To see a field of glittering white sand, representing water, with the cocoa-nut trees extending their tall and waving trunks around the margin, formed a singular and very pretty view.No beach novels for Darwin, though -- he has the book of Life:
I have before alluded to a crab which lives on the cocoa-nuts; it is very common on all parts of the dry land, and grows to a monstrous size: it is closely allied or identical with the Birgos latro.You can see why he doesn't choose Fort Lauderdale. About two-thirds of this reading is walking us through the differences in kinds of reefs, which isn't that interesting to me -- and, honestly, I believe we're destroying all the reefs anyway, so why indulge in nostalgia? But the crab adventures, that part's got a little more action.
The thing that I like in Darwin is his firsthand close observation -- not so much, for me, because I'm interested in the observation, but because I like to think of this bearded Victorian gentleman lying on the ground watching a crab trying to crack a coconut:
The crab begins by tearing the husk, fibre by fibre, and always from that end under which the three eyeholes are situated; when this is completed, the crab commences hammering with its heavy claws on one of the eye-holes till an opening is made. Then turning round its body, by the aid of its posterior and narrow pair of pincers, it extracts the white albuminous substance.In my imagination, Darwin does this wearing either A) full black-frock-coat Victoriania, or B) an old-timey swimming-costume with horizontal stripes. And zinc oxide on his nose -- it's the South Sea, after all.
And the best part is that there's no natural-selection theory in this excerpt, so your Baptist friends can enjoy it too.