Thursday, August 09, 2007

Oh, by the way . . .

Another tidbit from my recent trip:

The afternoon before I left Mobile, the girls and I went to Dauphin Island to spend a few hours beachcombing for shells and wading in the surf. One of this island's attractions for us is its large populations of hermit crabs, but it also makes shell-hunting a rather laborious process if one doesn't want to take a crab home by accident. One quickly becomes skilled at peering into the curved space of the shells' interior, looking for tell-tale claws or antennae (usually, the crabs can't hide completely in them). As G. said, "The crabs get all the good shells."

And one of the not-so-good ones, too, as it turns out, G.

I was just minding my own business yesterday, calling to inform my mother that I'd made it back to Wichita okay, when suddenly, not 3 feet from where I was sitting, one of my bags of shells moved and I could see something that looked like a tarantula gripping some oyster shells. Alas/Fortunately (depending on one's point of view, of course), it proved to be another member of phylum Arthopoda. I still hollered a bit, though, which caused my mother some brief concern until I told her what was going on.

I don't want it to die, but according to this, it's likely to, and soon. Two chief reasons figure into my calculating this: a) I have learned from my reading that hermit crabs are surprisingly social creatures and in fact do much better (read: are more likely to survive) in the company of their own kind. However, I was rather successful in making sure I brought only one crab I hadn't intended on bringing 900 miles with me to a very very very landlocked state in the first place. So, no runnin' buddies for my stowaway to talk over shell-swapping with. b), though, is a rather more crucial element on the old hermit-crab equivalent of Maslovian hierarchies of need: recent events have brought home to me that springing for the proper home for it is indeed a luxury, seeing as those events have made springing for my and the Mrs.'s own proper home (not to mention, you know, eating and stuff) seem something of a luxury in and of itself just now. So for now, I have it in a fishbowl with some shells and some of Scruffy's dog food, which I can't tell whether it likes or not.

There's no real point to this post. It's a little amusing, perhaps, but also a bit poignant: my home's new occupant is "just a crab," yes, but it is a living creature that, through no fault of my own, is here and which I feel some responsibility for but which I can't fully meet.

Is it dumb of me to engage in a bit of blogospheric hand-wringing about this? If "yes," then please help me out with something: via extrapolation, then, at what point up the species scale does it begin not being dumb?

9 comments:

Pam said...

I'd be feeling the same way. I keep thinking "perhaps I could offer some advice" but I have little. Except this: doesn't Witchita have a saltwater fish store (or a pet store with supplies)? I've been living on the coast for so long that I assume that places inland have saltwater supplies (which might include food).

I always feel terribly responsible for this things. But then, I evacuated a toad once with me - when everyone fled the coast because of Hurricane Floyd. A single toad. It didn't make a dent in the lowcountry's toad population. It was pretty nuts.

Cordelia said...

Yes, I'd call a fish store that has tropicals or exotics, but I'd bet the zoo or an animal habitat will have some answers or be able to take it.

Winston said...

No, not dumb. Just don't start arranging a funeral for it at time of expiration. That would be dumb. Unless there were little kids around. They usually like to do such things, and that's good because it gives them a reference point on death.

I never had one, but they used to sell hermit crabs in the shell at five-and-dime stores and such. As a kid I had a friend that had one. It rarely moved and was not a very exciting or interactive pet.

Other than that, I've never had the crabs, but have known a couple of people that did. They said they itched like... What's that you say? Oh, I see... Sorry...

emawkc said...

John, have you considered the possibly that Karma may be using you as it's instrument? I mean sure, you don't want to offend the universe by casually casting aside a seemingly innocent creature.

But, it's possible that the crab itself, in some former life perhaps, has angered the universe through actions of its own. In which case, Karma may have prompted you to pick up that particular shell with that particular crab therein for the express purpose of punishing said offending crab.

Just putting the possibility out there is all...

Hyygeia said...

Maybe you can find some suggestions on Anthony Bourdain's website?

Winston said...

btw, how is Dauphin Island these days. Years ago I vacationed there more than once. Since then, I know they have suffered serious damage from multiple hurricanes. Have they rebuilt? Is the old fort still there on the east end of the island?

John B. said...

Greetings, all, and thanks for the comments and suggestions. The blanket response is that I had to head out of town after posting and so had to do what I could for "Herbert" (the Mrs.' name for him), as described in the post, with limited resources and time. I feel a little like the father in The Road who, as readers of that book know, has a son working on him as a sort of conscience. My options weren't best regarding Herbert, but I'm still one of the good guys.
Winston, in answer to your second question, the island looked pretty good to me--a bit too good, in fact: I saw a couple of post-Katrina high-rise condos there that are much more like Gulf Shores/Orange Beach structures than the usual Dauphin Island weekend-getaway houses. I perfer the island precisely because of its absence of condos. Well, "lack," now. But Ft. Gaines is still there, and though the beach has eroded a bit, there are some projects in place to arrest that. And, it's still one of the best places on the Gulf to watch a sunset.

R. Sherman said...

Forgive the shotgun comments as I'm catching up.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch lauded Dauphin Island in the Sunday travel section two weeks ago. It sounds like a good place to hit the beach without the "Redneck Riviera" commercialism of Florida Panhandle.

Cheers.

John B. said...

Randall,
"Shotgun" is more than acceptable, especially considering what you've been through. It's good to have you back in the blogging saddle.