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Helmet the Hermit Crab was playing with the turtle trio, Terry, Timmy and Tommy near the GREAT ROOM. Helmet enjoyed the good spirits of the young turtle brothers and whenever Helmet was available to share their playtime, the occasion took on a special meaning for each of them. The fearless foursome frolicked in the fun for hours, frequently forgetting the hour of the day.
The foursome had been performing their special jump dive float drift maneuver from Lucky Lookout Ledge located near the east edge of the coral reef. The process involved jumping from the ledge, diving toward the bottom, floating through the water and drifting to the soft smooth sand at the bottom of Seascape. After rolling in the sand, the critters would struggle the long climb to return to the private platform. The climb up the coral reef involved careful use of the special steps that the motion of the water had carved in the coral.
The frolicking foursome had repeated the process countless times. Although muscle-weary from the many trips, they had been steady in their joy.
The sea critters of Seascape had named the platform in the coral, Lucky Lookout Ledge, lucky not only because they had felt lucky that they had a ledge to which they could climb and from which they could jump but also they had felt lucky that they had a ledge from which they could see and from which they could be seen by all of the sea critters of Seascape.
Standing on the ledge, a sea critter could see to the outer limits of Seascape, to the North, to the South, to the East, and to the West.
Harry Seahorse had pulled together a ditty about the Seascape borders and would recite it on cue when asked.
On the North side was the jetty and the beautiful marsh with its rocks and reeds that looked so harsh. On the East side was the beach and the elegant sands with their beckoning oats that some called hands. On the South side were the pilings and the perched pelicans with their relaxed posture that begged elegance. On the West side was the great sea, and the protective reef with its colorful coral that some called relief.
Yes, while standing on Lucky Lookout Ledge, a critter could see to the edges of the Seascape world. Some critters said when they paused and listened very closely while looking over Seascape from the ledge; they could see as well as hear all of the sights and all of the sounds in the entire world.
Well, not every critter agreed with that conclusion. But most critters would listen politely, smile and move on.
Still, it was definite that from the ledge a critter could see not only many unusual sights but also the reassuring outline of Mr. Ray as he provided protection at the entrance into Seascape from the Sea.
Mr. Ray, concealed beneath a thin dusting of white sand, performed his protective task of concern for Seascape. But from Lucky Lookout Ledge, the outline of Mr. Ray's back could be seen in the sand as clear as a critter could see the shape of the swaying Palms on the beach in the East. Mr. Ray would swish his tail in the sand slightly as a sea critter stood on Lucky Lookout Ledge, as if notifying the critter with the swish of his tail that it was time to jump, that the coast was clear. Swishing allowed Mr. Ray to feel like he was a part of the fun which the sea critters shared from the ledge.
Lucky Lookout Ledge was a good look out ledge as well as being a good fun ledge.
"Yes indeed," Helmet had said to the turtle brothers, "we are lucky to have the ledge so that we can look out over Seascape."
From that time on, nearly everyone in Seascape referred to the protruding platform at the top of the coral reef as Lucky Lookout Ledge. There were some who would slip and call it Lucky Ledge but even then everyone in Seascape knew about which ledge they were talking.
There were several ledges which the daring swimmers used in their frolicking fun but no ledge offered either the challenge or the excitement which Lucky Lookout Ledge offered to those strong enough to overcome the challenge of the climb and to those brave enough to boast a drifting dive from such a height amid the surging currents of water. Yes, the critters were lucky to have Lucky Ledge whether it was used for "looking out from" or for "leaping off of."
Time had passed quickly for the fearsome frolicking foursome. Everyone had been having such a good time that the sun had managed the climb on the eastside of the sky and reach its high point directly above the GREAT ROOM hours before anyone realized that it had moved. The sun had begun its daily trip down the west side of the sky to rest for the night when Helmet's attention was distracted from the playing with the turtle brothers.
Fred and his friends had had lunch, Ollie and Sam had taken their naps, and all the friendly sea critters had finished doing their usual chores in Seascape, when Helmet's eye noticed [as he stood on Lucky Lookout Ledge], that Mr. Stingray had begun to stir in the sand at the entrance to Seascape. Mr. Ray had begun to stir more than his usual stir.
Mr. Ray would do an odd stir in the sand when certain happenings needed out-of-the-ordinary stirrings.
One of the more serious happenings was whenever intruders were prowling about the Sea just outside the entrance of Seascape, on the western edge.
If it looked as if the intruders might try to enter Seascape, Mr. Ray would do a special stir. Any sea critter on Lucky Lookout Ledge would be certain to notice the commotion motion.
But, all intruders were not bad intruders.
Some intruders were vacationing visitors. And if the visitors meant no harm to the sea critters, they would be welcomed into Seascape. Helmet could tell from Mr. Ray's stir whether or not the intruders meant harm to the sea critters or no harm to the sea critters.
Mr. Ray never spoke as the other sea critters spoke, in bubble. In fact, Helmet could not recall ever having heard Mr. Ray speak a bubble.
Mr. Ray communicated with his stirs.
Some Mr. Ray stirs were signal stirs; some stirs were standard stirs; and some stirs were special stirs. Most sea critters could understand Mr. Ray's stir language slightly but Helmet was exceptional as an interpreter of stir.
Another less serious happening which would cause Mr. Ray to standard stir was when Helmet or one of the turtle boys would land on Mr. Ray's back after jumping off the platform, Lucky Lookout Ledge. Most of the time, the playful crew would glide silently through the water toward Mr. Ray's position in the sand and land on Mr. Ray's back.
Mr. Ray never complained when disturbed by the playful antics of his friends. He just moved in a standard stir and adjusted his position further away from the platform and closer to the entrance to Seascape from the Sea.
Other happenings would cause Mr. Ray to stir special but Helmet knew immediately that this stir was a very special signal stir which was significantly different from Mr. Ray's usual standard stirs.
It was an extraordinary especial stir.
Suddenly, as Mr. Ray navigated his extraordinary especial stir, Ollie Oyster awoke.
Whether Ollie had been dozing; or whether he had been, as he would often say, "Just a-restin me eyes, I am," will never be known for certain by any living critter. But for a reason known only to Ollie, his shell top flipped up and his head popped out between the narrow opening in the shell.
Ollie Oyster is quite different from Mr. Ray.
Mr. Ray is quiet and speaks only in the stir language.
Quite the opposite, Ollie Oyster pumps water into his shell as fast as he possibly can pump water into his shell in order to keep his vocal chords lubricated so that he can talk uninterrupted and unrestricted, for hours and hours!
Everyone in Seascape, all of the local sea critters, knows that Ollie loves to talk. Ollie [it is said by more than a few local critters] loves the sound of his own voice so much that he can never get enough of its sweet music.
True to his personality, as soon as Ollie awoke, as soon as his lid flipped up, as soon, (maybe even before) as soon as his head stuck out, his voice began to work.
Normally, Helmet would have smiled at Ollie and continued swimming with the turtle boys.
But this was to be a different day, a special day, a stirring day in the life of the all the critters in Seascape. It would be remembered and it would be talked about in the GREAT ROOM, on the sand bars, on the Lucky Lookout Ledge, and everywhere in Seascape that critters gathered to share. It would be talked about at high tide and at low tide. It would be talked about during the good times and during the bad times. It would be talked about by the young and by the old. It would be referred to as the time of the BIG BLOW!
Helmet sensed that something unique was about to happen.
Again, Ollie broke the silence which, if only briefly, had invaded Seascape,
Aye Mate, let's a-see hyar now. Thar's a-somethin a-big in tha a-makins. A-big a-blow, a-big a-blow thar tis. I kin a-feels it. I twer a-lying a-next to Sam Sponge, a-next tota shelf hyar, I twas. We twas a-talkin', a-big talk we twas, .....or twas we a-sleepin? Oh, well do'nt a-make no a-merry a-mind a-bit anyway, I a-could a-feels it. I a-could a-feels it across my shell back. Happens airy time thars' a blow, top shell a-shivers, strange little a-shiver it tis, so it does. Well thar now, Sam's a-twitchin he tis. See him a-jerkin his fingers a-quick a-like they a-was a-fare. Whats a-tink tis Sam? I say thar Sam Sponge, what-cha a-tink.
Sam Sponge shuttered, stuttered stammered and drooped.
Then Sam spoke, "BIG BLOW a-comin!"
Sam had never been one for wasting words on small talk. He had always gone directly to the point of a discussion. This was to be no exception. Sam stuck to simple communication.
Sam spoke again, "Need a warning spread! Quick! Get Helmet!"
Sam was speaking with a new found authority. He sounded more as a Captain might sound than as a Mate might sound. Sam claimed to have been a Mate years and years before, in the days of his youth.
Ollie Oyster could not tolerate Sam Sponge taking up so much time talking. He blurted out in the middle of Sam's conversation, interrupting Sam,
Aye Mate, only critter ta a-spread a-warnin tis Helmet ta Hermit Crab a-causin of his speed. Helmet a-moves a-fast a-like a-lightenin when Helmet tis a-inspared. Why, once I saw Edgar Egret and Sandy Sandpiper a-chasin aftar Helmet, and a-smack, tay a-bumped heads as Helmet a-scooted away inta his shell. Quick he tis, I say, quick. Never....
"Go Fred," said Sam Sponge to Fred Fish as he motioned with a long finger, "Go!"
Turning to Ollie, Sam blurted out, "Stop your confounded talking Ollie." Ollie had continued to ramble even as Sam had been giving instructions to Fred.
Ollie would probably have been talking for several hours if Sam had not stopped him.
"Go Fred, go fetch Helmet before it's too late," said Sam.
It was as if Sam Sponge had been left loose. He turned back toward Ollie and said, "This is no time for you to be running on and on about things that are not important at the moment. No time at all!"
"No call a-gittin a-rowdy dar, Sam. Fred a-hears ya. Sides, Helmet's around dat dar corner with ta turtle boys a-swimmin," responded Ollie.
As Ollie, Sam and Fred were trying to make up their minds about who was to get Helmet, Helmet appeared from around the corner of the coral reef, near the GREAT ROOM.
"Its a-goin ta be a-big a-blow, it tis," was Ollie's final attempt at authority, after having been put in his place by his special friend, Sam Sponge.
Ollie was still mumbling as Helmet approached Sam and Fred. About that time Mr. Ray Stingray stirred again and moved toward the gathering as if to offer personal support to the decision making process.
Sam started, "We need to warn Mrs. Turtle and her little ones. They'll need time to prepare."
Helmet, Mr. Ray, Sam Sponge, Fred Fish, and of course Ollie Oyster gathered at the edge of Seascape, next to the entrance to the Sea, close to the door to the GREAT ROOM, near Lucky Ledge.
The decision making began.
There was no question in any of their minds. They knew they had to send a warning to all the critters of Seascape, immediately!
But along with the warning which Fred would carry, there also should go some advice as to what to do to prepare for the big blow.
Everyone knew it would be Fred who would carry the message of warning throughout Seascape.
In the waters of Seascape, there was no other critter that could beat Fred at speed, except Mr. Ray. But everyone in Seascape knew, as did Mr. Ray, that Mr. Ray should stay stationed at the entrance to Seascape to offer directions to any friendly critters needing help and to provide protection from unfriendly critters who might try to take advantage of the sea critters of Seascape during their time of difficulty. Besides, not everyone in Seascape could understand the stir language as Helmet understood it. Talking in stir would make communicating with those who didn't speak stir very difficult.
Sea critters listened to Mr. Ray's stirs when he was standing guard at the Gate. Critters seldom argued with Mr. Ray Stingray. Much of the time the critters remained quiet because they were unsure as to what Mr. Ray had meant with his stirs. Still, the communication confusion helped Mr. Ray command authority and when you are a guard, authority is important.
Indeed, Mr. Ray would be the guard and Fred would be the messenger. It was understood that way and accepted by the sea critters.
Some of the necessary business which was conducted at the meeting was the result of past practice. Some accepted positions of leadership had been approved over a long period of time, such as Mr. Ray Stingray being Seascape's guard and Fred Fish being Seascape's messenger and Helmet the Hermit Crab being best suited to conduct important meetings. Every critter in Seascape understood and accepted these tried and tested conditions.
Helmet struggled to keep the unimportant chatter out of the meeting but Ollie was excited and he could hardly contain himself. Sam threatened to slam his lid and sit on it to keep him quiet if necessary.
Ollie could control him self for a short period of time when threatened by Sam but then the decision making would excite him again and off he would go talking about when he was First Mate aboard the S.S. SUNDANCE, in the Great Oyster War in the 50's.
Helmet did an admirable job keeping both the subject and Ollie under control.
During times of stress, Helmet juts the stem of his shell into the sand, making it stand on-end, and then he climbs to the spiral top of the shell. From atop his shell, he can see everyone and look them in the eye; from there he can ask questions; from there he can make certain that everyone listens to one another; and from there he can make certain that everyone understands what is being said.
Often Helmet lifted a claw and asked for quiet. Then he repeated the issue being discussed. Helmet is masterful at directing the sea critters with his claw waving in the water from atop his shell. Some sea critters think Helmet becomes inspired when he is in charge of a group of critters.
The issue of the moment was where to tell the sea critters to hide.
Sam Sponge made the point that the air critters should be told of the conditions and circumstances confronting everyone in Seascape. He also suggested that the land critters along with the air critters should be told of the conditions.
Excerpted from SEASCAPE by Ronald Lee Weagley Copyright © 2010 by Ronald Lee Weagley. Excerpted by permission.
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