Crab legs were (and still are) one of my favorite meals as a kid, introduced to me as soon as I was capable of wielding a set of claw crackers. Growing up in Wisconsin, true, fresh ocean seafood was impossible to come by. So all I knew was the salty sweet platters that we'd get at Red Lobster, only on the most special of occasions.
I never needed the melted butter.
Today, I am lucky enough to be able to go to the market or to the fisherman's pier and get fresh dungeness crab, still alive and clacking away in the cooler on the drive home. (This is also terrifying and I probably won't ever do that again. I prefer my seafood pre-killed, thankyouverymuch.) Boil them up in a big red pot, and then spend a good hour hammering away at them, trying to extract the tiny bits of delicious crabby meat. This is not the stuff of Red Lobster. This is the stuff of the hard gray Pacific, tough, calcified, lots of elbow grease required.
A couple of weekends ago, we went to the beach on Camano Island and we hunted for crab shells under the shade of a big wind-blown beach tree. In a small radius, we found a treasure trove of crab bits.
We gathered the tiniest skeletons, and being no biologist, I wondered if they were just really little full-grown crabs, or if they were babies that never made it. The sun had bleached and dried them fully. Hollow crab ghosts.
I secretly hoped that they were not baby crabs.
It's just a crab.
Even baby crabs have mothers.
Do you think that mother crabs have feelings?
Everyone has a mother.
Maybe they were full-grown crabs, and they lived a long, happy crab life.
Everyone has a mother, even the homeless guy standing outside of Whole Foods, with his sign, asking for socks.
Every day, my heart cracks open a little bit more.