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  • She is a collector. My little girl. She collects twigs, pieces of strings, tiny rocks she finds on the ground, sea glass, shells, pieces of paper, whatever little treasure she can find under dried leaves, wet sand, playground dirt. There's no knowing what I'll find on the dining table, under her pillow, in her shorts pockets. Someone's junk is someone else's treasure, and so I let it be.

    So here we are on the Punalu'u beach of Hawaii. The famous black sand beach on the Big Island. Its almost dusk. We're returning from the Volcanoes National Park, stopping at this pristine, ethereal beach on the way back to our vacation rental in Kona. Living in Oahu, we've seen all kinds of beautiful beaches. But never a black sand one. Glowing dark remnants of lava mirroring a drowsy sky. A thousand years gone by, and a moment. We're stunned by the beauty. But its getting dark. And we have a long, winding road to traverse. And so we head back to Kona.

    About three hours later, finaly there! I'm the first to jump out of the car, and head straight to the bathroom. Its been a long day. And what do we do about dinner now? The kids are tired and hungry. We have a little kitchenette. Maybe we can fix something here. There's no way we're going out again. My mind, as always, is making a "to do" list as I go about my business. And then I hear it. A scream, and loud sobbing. Did my 3 year son old hit my 7 year old daughter? A cockroach? Worse, a centipede? I make a fast exit and run into the bedroom.

    They're both standing in a corner. She's still crying and looking fearfully towards the bedside table. What happened? "Mommy!" she cries. "Look, my shells are walking!!" And there they are....poor little baby hermit crabs, so many miles away from home, finally finding freedom from a little fist!
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