Follow the light

Hermit crab

Hermit crab. Jessica DiamondCC BY-SA

Daddy has a story to tell this morning:

“Last night, a sound woke me up.  I got out of bed and listened.  A steady clinking was coming from the bathroom. I thought: What in the devil could be making that noise in the bathroom? I went and looked around – didn’t see anything. I bent down to look at the pipe under the sink. Nothing. The noise was much closer, though, almost right in my ear . . . I turned my head and there on the sink leg was that hermit crab, crawling up. His shell was hitting against the metal leg – that was the clinking.”

I look in the glass bowl where my pet crab Shermie lives. He’s completely inside his black-and-white shell now, obviously sleeping off his late-night adventure. 

“He got out of his bowl and went that far? Why would he do that, Daddy?”

 “I guess he was following the light.”

The bowl is in the living room. I look at the hallway. The bathroom is at the end, around the corner on the right. That’s an awfully long way for a little crab. I imagine him crawling along the hardwood floor past the bedrooms in the dark. It’s a good thing none of us got up and stepped on him. 

Shermie’s stalk eyes peek out of his shell and I wish I could ask him: Why were you trying so hard to get to the light?

Maybe it wasn’t the light. A quick skim of the Internet reveals that hermit crabs are nocturnal creatures which often climb out of cages at night, when they would normally be in search of food and water; in the wild, they do this in droves, traveling for miles. When a pet hermit crab escapes – apparently quite a few do – the experts say to check the bathroom, as the crab might be seeking the humidity of its natural habitat.

In the days before the Internet, however, we didn’t know all of this.

For years I thought of that tiny creature and the Herculean task of climbing out of a wide, smooth glass bowl – how, I do not know to this day – to make his way, alone, through the dark toward the only light in the house.

And I would think: If Shermie could figure out where the light is, then so can I. There’s a light to follow out of this darkness, somewhere. I’ll find it. I’ll climb out.

slice-of-life_individual Early Morning Slicer



16 thoughts on “Follow the light

    • Thank you, Rose, for your response and the congrats! That little crab has loomed large in my memory. There’s a lesson, a learning in everything. We need to listen to nature more, sometimes. Thanks again!


  1. > If Shermie could figure out where the light is, then so can I. There’s a light to follow out of this darkness, somewhere. I’ll find it. I’ll climb out.<

    Hermit crabs are odd little creatures, that's for sure. I had a pair as "classroom pets" for a number of years, and the kids were engrossed with them. However, they never escaped their little home away from home.

    I like that idea, how Shermie could figure out where that light was, and so can you. What a way to end an awesome slice! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you and I do think it’s a matter of trusting that the light is out there, even when we can’t see it (All the Light We Cannot See – lol!) And absolutely, we keep moving, keep searching, keep hoping. Who would have thought a little crab could be so inspirational? My dad even seemed duly impressed – no small feat!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran your piece has allegorical overtones, which add to its appeal and depth as a writing piece. You have added to my personal knowledge of Hermit Crabs sharing the fact they are nocturnal. They are also quite definitely determined and persistent. There is a neatness to this piece as well. A clear sense of appropriate closure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alan, for reading and for the specific feedback. The crabs’ persistence and determination are startling, indeed. I think this is why the experience sticks with me after so long, coming to mind every so often, like a nudge of encouragement.


    • My favorite word – magic! When I think on a memory like this, I almost feel like I am back in the experience. I have that minute or two, maybe, to look, sense, capture how it was, before it fades again. That is the magic, the capturing. It’s harder sometimes than others but this has been a vivid memory, especially connected to sound (the clinking waking my dad). Thank you so much.


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