on hermit crabs.

Until last week, the last time I had any encounter with a hermit crab was a few years ago when I stepped into the L's house and Lucie was screaming.  I came over to babysit for the night (or weekend, I don't remember which) and as soon as I walked into the foyer I could hear her upstairs in her bedroom screaming and crying.  I immediately dashed up the stairs to see what was happening and found her in her bathroom with tears streaming down her face.  She had a small cage beside her and in the cage was a dead hermit crab.  Trent, her big brother, bounded down the hall into the bathroom with us to see what was happening.  He grabbed the cage and took it over to their parents room and showed them the source of Lucie's distress.  They comforted her as best they could until the tears stopped and, after some time, they left the house - me alone with two kids and a dead crab.  My first order of business that early evening was planning a funeral.  We went outside with a small shovel, a hand drawn card, and a small box containing the lime green & hot pink shelled hermit crab.  Trent took over the ceremony, Lucie stood quietly beside me.  He dug the shallow grave under a huge magnolia tree, placed the box in the hole, covered it up, found two sticks to form into a make-shift cross, and placed Lucie's card on the grave.  Trent's a good big brother.  He asked Lucie if she wanted to say anything, she slowly nodded and simply said, "goodbye.  I loved you."  Trent followed that up with some words about that crab being the best crab they've ever had and how he's sure it is now in crab heaven.  I finished it up with a simple "amen" and gave Lucie a hug.  She turned to me and asked if we could go jump on the trampoline. 

Maybe a story about a dead crab isn't the best way to start out talking about my new crab.  Or maybe it is... remind us of how short life is, especially if you're a scavenger crustacean near the bottom of the food chain.  I've owned a hermit crab before.  I was about ten years old, his name was Skeeter, and that story ends similarly to the one above.  Let's just say, I loved him a lot and thought he was cool, but someone, who promised to take care of him, forgot about him while I was away at summer camp.  You know how it ends...

On our second to last full day at the beach last week we decided to stop into the Scotch Bonnet for some fudge.  "Featured on The Food Network" fudge... John got Fire & Ice and I got Espresso and both were delicious.  But this story is not about fudge, it's about a crab.  In the back of the store there were fixins for hermit crabs but no crabs.  I asked the shop owner about them and he said they wouldn't get any in to start selling until Memorial Day. Then he asked me if I wanted a hermit crab.  Some tourists had left a couple hermit crabs on the porch, after they got them they didn't want to take them back home.  One, unfortunately, died, but he still had one that he kept in a cage behind the counter.  "It's yours, if you want it," he said.  I said YES.  How could I say no to a small hermit crab, in a garish, Batman-painted shell that had been abandoned and was still thriving?  I'm a sucker for rescues.  I went back to our beach house with the crab, a small booklet on hermit crabs, and the fudge in tow.  All the other adults in the house laughed at the story but quickly became super interested and entertained by the new house resident.  I set her cage on the table in the living room, along with the booklet, and throughout the rest of the days & nights at that house, I think I saw almost everyone pick up the booklet and read through it.  It was interesting to see so many people having conversations about the nature of hermit crabs.  I named her Hilary Duff.  After the Lizzie McGuire star... obviously. She's a very active crab.  She loves climbing around and is not shy at all.  I didn't know a hermit crab could be so fun as an adult.   The cats haven't shown interest in her yet, and I'm hoping it stays that way. I've loved having her for this past week and hope she sticks around a long time. I feel way better preprared to take care of her now than when I was ten, so hopefully I won't have to plan any funerals anytime soon. 

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