Saturday, May 27, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night....


I swear to you, this boat was bigger! It is some kind of a strange phenomenon that happens in childhood memories. Everything is remembered in a HUGE way. Is it because we are so small and new to the world? I don't know, what I DO know is that by the time we become adults and we figure out that something wasn't as big as we thought, it is terribly disappointing.
As I am sure you have guessed, this was yet another summer excursion with Grandma and Grandpa T. This time we were to meet up with some friends of theirs. Some where along the line they decided it would be great fun to go catch some crabs for lunch. I had never eaten a crab, so what did I know? Besides, I wonder if in my little adolescent brain I thought, "Well how bad can it be, I've eaten sardines for God sake!" (Yes, I probably really did think thoughts like that and use language like that, what would you expect from some one who's first words were Son of a bitch?)
We set out to a special place that they knew would be good for crabbing. Once there, big cages with long ropes were slowly lowered into the water.... down they went until I couldn't see them anymore. I was told it would take a little while. I was the only kid onboard with 4 adults , there wasn't much to do. Grandma and her friend decided on a game of cards while someone put a huge pot of water on the stove. The little galley was cramped, but I don't remember it being horribly cramped... though looking at the picture I wonder how we all managed to even move around on that thing! What the hell kept us from flipping over the side from even the slightest of waves? I leaned over the side of the boat to try to see down to where the traps were. All I could see was the rope going down until there was nothing... the water was as dark as ink. I didn't want to stare into the water for too long, it gave me the creeps. I have always had this fear of staring into the water and then suddenly seeing someone's face staring up out of the water at me. Who knows where this fear came from. Maybe it was just a matter of not really knowing what was down there.
Finally, the time came to haul the cages back up to see if we caught anything. The anticipation was almost too much to bear. I leaned way over to watch as they pulled the rope up. Why did it seem like it took longer to get the cage out of the water than it did to put it in? My eyes were going blurry I was concentrating so hard on trying to see something... suddenly the cage came into view. It didn't look like there was anything in there. I started to get a little disappointed.
Wait! What was that? I could see something in there... was that a crab? I couldn't be sure.
Everyone was getting excited, the cage was apparently heavy, which apparently meant there were crabs there. With one swift yank, up came the cage and sure enough it was full of crabs. I heard someone say something about Dungeness crabs. They were huge and mad! Snapping their claws wildly at whatever got in their way. I followed as the cage was hauled into the galley. I no sooner got right at the door and Grandma stopped me dead in my tracks. She told me that I didn't need to watch that. She looked nervous and worried. Watch what? I wondered. I sat there with her for a few minutes then asked her why I couldn't go in there. She explained to me that the crabs were put into the boiling pot of water while they were still alive and that they made this noise like a scream. I must've turned 3 shades of green. Grandma patted my hand and said, "Don't think about that, and once you taste them, you won't care about any of that anyway, darlin'." I sat there staring at my feet. Oh, this sounded so not good.
However, I will tell you that I sat at that little table with my Grandma and Grandpa and pigged out on crab. It was the best thing I had ever tasted and Grandma was right, the icky thoughts were long gone and forgotten.
My next memory of this outing was us deciding to camp. We found a quiet cove with woods as far as anyone could see. Grandma and Grandpa didn't have a tent, the weather was beautiful so we were just going to sleep up on a bluff looking down at the cove. Their friends were going to sleep on their boat. Some time in the middle of the night I woke to pouring down rain,wind, as well as thunder and lightning and my Grandma holding some small piece of tarp over me, she was soaking wet, but was trying to keep me dry as I slept.
That right there was the epitome of Grandma. And it was a realization that sadly wasn't found until she had already passed on.... the woman would have sacrificed (and maybe often did) anything and everything for her family. There she was in a horrible summer storm, in the middle of the night, making sure that I was dry, warm and comfortable.
And now as I sit here, in my late 40's I look back at the adult women in my life with whom I was in their care -I realize that each and everyone of them were and are -some of the strongest, most resilient women that I have ever encountered. In just their presence and in their actions, they have taught me one of the most important lessons in life... survival and overcoming.
Sometimes I have to struggle to remember that, but eventually genetics takes over and before I know it, I too am surviving and overcoming the obstacles in my own life.
This is one instance when I can say "thank God for genetics!"

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