The flat grey sky reflected darkly in the deeper water beyond the shallows.
I picked up his discarded shoes and strolled along, the crunch of the sand, shell and small rounded stones underfoot; breathing the salty seaweed air and watching the sea move slowly in the deep water, heaving, almost soundless.
All was tranquil here.
“I’ll put my sandals back on now” called James, intruding upon my reverie.
“The stones are hurting my feet”.
“Okay, come up the beach a bit to the firmer ground and I’ll dry your feet and get the sand off.
As we walked up, we had to step over a long line of seaweed and jetsam, which looked like a rolled up carpet marking the high water mark.
It smelled strongly of the sea and was covered in sand flies. Tangled up with the seaweed there was the usual debris found in our oceans.
“Where does all that stuff come from Daddy?” asked James.
“Oh those flip flops probably came from the Indian Ocean” I replied, “Everyone wears them down there you know”
And the rope nets and floats, well they are obviously from a trawler in the Pacific”
“The drift wood is from Africa and the plastic bottles came across the Atlantic Ocean.”
I smiled inwardly at the thought that it most likely came from just down the coast.
James didn’t want to walk through the damp mass of it in his bare feet, so I picked him up and carried him over, as I did so, a million sand flies rose up momentarily before settling back down.
After wiping James’ feet with my hands he slipped his sandals on and took off towards the rocks, and the focus of our walk, crab fishing!
James came to a stop near the rocky outcrop of the headland;
“Daddy daddy, look, I see pools in the rocks, can we try crab fishing here.
In his excitement, the words tumbled out, almost colliding with each other.
“We will need some bait and a piece of line” I said, as I quickened my pace over the sand.
“Do you have your knife daddy?”
“Yes I do” said I as I looked around for something to use as crab bait.
There were plenty of limpets, so I eased my pocketknife blade under one of the unsuspecting crustaceans and gently levered it off the rock.
A single strand of nylon rope from the roll of seaweed made a perfect line so I scraped the limpet out of his shell and attached the squishy brownish grey remains to one end.
We were now fully equipped for crab fishing.
“If there are crabs lurking in this pool, they will smell this tasty morsel.”
James lowered the bait slowly into the depths.
Instantly a dark shape scuttled out from under the rock and grabbed the lure with both of his large claws.
“There’s a crab” I almost shouted. James squealed and lifted the bait too quickly, the crab held on for a second then let go and, and sank slowly back to the bottom and scuttled back to his hiding place.
“He was big” said James.
“Much bigger than I thought we would find here, let’s try to get him up onto dry land.”
“Dangle the bait close to where he was and when he grabs on, slowly pull up so he doesn’t spook.”
James gently lowered the bait down to where our quarry had hidden.
It had barely arrived on bottom when the crab darted out and grabbed hold.
James very carefully lifted the line, bringing the crab to the surface and then swinging him on to the rock, squealing with delight when we had him on dry land.
He wasn’t huge but big for a rock pool dweller.
We watched as he tore pieces of flesh from the limpid and hungrily stuffed them into his mouth, apparently unperturbed by his sudden transportation to dry land.
Just then a light mist descended, but the sky threatened heavier rain.
“We’ll have to dump our crab and head to the car quickly or we’ll get soaked.” I said.
I stood up and unceremoniously side footed the crab and his limpid supper into his rock pool, they sank slowly to the bottom.
The mist was thickening to rain so we raced for the steps.
Just as we reached the gate in the sea wall, breathless and damp, the heavens opened.
I turned to look back, the raindrops made individual indentations in the smooth water beyond the shallows, and the beach, deserted now, rocky headland slowly disappearing behind the curtain of rain.