Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Boundless Curiosity

Three boys, a beach, and boundless curiosity. I got to savor that joyous combination earlier today when I was out for a walk. There's a small beach on the grounds of my apartment complex. I saw three boys who looked to be about eleven or twelve on the beach with a big plastic container filled with water and bits of sea weed. I asked them whether they'd found anything interesting.

I half-expected a sullen or bored reply, or maybe total disdain for this grownup interrupting their play. Instead, one of the boys, a wiry redhead, enthusiastically answered that, yes, they'd found lots of interesting creatures. He lifted a smaller water-filled plastic container and showed me something that looked like a cross between a prawn and a cockroach. It was brown and had lots of little leg-like appendages. I said it looked kind of like a shrimp. He agreed, but wondered if it might be a sea cockroach. I've lived here for over five years and had never seen anything like it. Pretty impressive.

Not to be outdone, one of the redhead's friends reached into the larger container and pulled out a green wormy-looking thing, about two inches long. "There's another one just like it, only it's pregnant," he announced and began searching through the sloshing water for the other worm. In short order, he brought out the same variety of worm, but this one had a dark patch along one side, under which I could make out what appeared to be two heads, presumably offspring about to be born. Who knows? Certainly not me, but it was great to see these kids speculating with so much excitement.

I was about to resume my walk when the third boy, who had been busy in the water with his net, came leaping exuberantly toward us, shouting "I found a seahorse." Sure enough, there in the palm of his hand was a tiny brown seahorse with a perfect little curved tail. As the boy rushed to deposit the seahorse safely in the large container, I asked him and his two friends what they planned to do with their finds. Their answer—put them all back in the bay. These kids were out to explore the watery world, not conquer it. Their curiosity made my day.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful story. I wish the NYTimes would have stories like this on their front page.