One afternoon last week, I was on the beach photographing birds. It was in the low eighties, but in the full sun the temperature was hotter. My skin was sticky with sweat and sand. As the afternoon slipped away toward evening, dark clouds gathered from the west. The wind picked up speed and abruptly turned cool. I turned my face into the intermittent gusts. It felt like standing in front of a window-unit air conditioner.
I stood for a moment with my face turned toward the cooling blasts of air, until a small movement caught my eye. A tiny ghost crab, perfectly camouflaged against the cream-colored sands, was making its way across the beach, perhaps to dig itself a burrow along the wave-line. I moved my camera into position and the little crab froze, perhaps convinced that I was the largest and most dangerous shorebird it had ever seen. I took her photo, thanked her, and moved away quickly so she could go about her business.
I took the dark clouds and newly excited winds as an indication that it might be time to head back, and I continued down the beach toward the dunes, this time with the storm winds cooling my back and neck.
I took one last photo of the clouds gathering over the dunes.
You can’t see the crab in this one.