You know what bothers me? I love horseshoe crabs, and they get abused because people need their blood. And I was with this woman who claims to be helping them, but she was drilling holes in their shells.
Do you know what for?
To track them, but that can’t be good for them, having holes drilled in their shells. . And the other thing I’m worried about is gentrification in the park.
The next day, V reread the New Yorker article about horseshoe crabs and what the writer, Ian Frazier, called citizen science. She read that horseshoe crabs prefer sheltered bays with shallow, calm water and that some kinds of shoreline reinforcement, like seawalls, threatens their habitats: too vertical, too intrusive, too many crashing waves.
Later in the week, V took the number 14 bus down to Narragansett Bay and looked for horseshoe crabs on the soft sands and inlets, but didn’t see any. They spawn when the water gets above 50 degrees, she remembered reading. They are protected in Rhode Island in the months of May, June and July. (We read some of the same articles, V and I.) On the bus back toward Providence, V had an idea about the food trucks and horse police in Kennedy Plaza.
In May, June and July, each food truck gave a free sandwich to one particular person each day. In the afternoons, crowds of kids bloomed around the horse officers like algae, asking questions, asking to pet the horse, asking the horse’s name. The horse was fairly relaxed about it.
Also in July, V and about 20 people from her friend’s church took the number 14 bus down to Narragansett Bay again, bearing sticks with little flags made out of that biodegradeable tape that cows like to eat. The flags said, “Future Horseshoe Crab Habitat.” They planted them in the dunes, in the grass, on some lawns, tucked into the timbers of porches. They went every week to replace the flags that had blown over or away, or that people had removed. They stood with them and talked to people about them until it was almost time for the last bus to leave. The lines of flags, a tacky pale fluorescent pink, made a scoop into the land, the shape of a shallow bay.
In the world, people ask differently the question of what they can spare.