Last weekend we went crabbing with our aunt and uncle near the Canadian-Washingtonian border. We started out in our aunt and uncle's golden car, which always reminds me distinctly of a fat pill-bug. We piled our things in the car haphazardly--my backpack rolled around at my feet in front of a keyboard-print pillow and a large green cooler, while our uncle bombarded us with math questions pertaining to the number of days it would take to drive so many miles, etc. These questions were successfully answered, and we soon settled into a long discussion about various types of food.
Ah...food! Our first stop was at the Bellingham's Farmer's Market, a large and busy place, smelling of kettle corn, herbs, and cheese sticks. Some of the booths were more homogeneous, lined up in much the same way with the same white canopies stretched over the poles. Others were more conspicuous, shading some creative artisan behind hat-stands or sculptures or jewelry. We purchased some fruit and vegetables (not to mention a temptingly sweet bag of sugar-coated pecans, and a cheese stick). The sugar-coated pecans had the texture of an obstinately hard vitamin, the crunchiness and crispness of an overbaked cookie, and had the same filling taste as a gulpful of sweet lemonade.
Our next stop was to start crabbing. Our other aunt and uncle were there, as well as our maternal grandparents. The crab-nets were heavy and bothersome. I watched (entranced) as our gloved aunt put a raw chicken leg into a small cage inside the nets as bait for the hungry crabs. Our other uncle threw the net, like a frisbee, into the murky water, where it splashed like a skipping stone. We waited expenctantly over a delicious lunch.
My aunt was at the epicenter of this lunch, chopping tomatoes and cucumbers while talking loudly in Chinese, watching the lines of our crab nets until she determined they were ready to pull, and laying out tasks for her minions (our uncle and me) to complete. Namely, putting cheese and/or ham into the sandwiches. Our grandmother's lunch seemed to be made up entirely of peanuts and watermelon, although I could be wrong.
We caught a great deal of small crabs, one of whom seemed to be in raw-chicken-leg paradise, having managed to get halfway into the cage and feast upon his reward. We threw him back. My sister's official role was to prod the little crabs who got stuck on a bit of the dock that protruded out beyond our reach, with a chopstick or popsicle stick or whatever struck her fancy. I helped, and felt a feeling of satisfaction afterwards, as though I had saved the world. (It is a simliar feeling when one gives an ant struggling with a bread-crumb a lift in your palm back to its home.)
Every so often I would observe the number of crabs lounging in the tepid water inside my aunt's hat-shaded bucket. I thought it was over six, although I never would know for sure.