where the writers are
Some Gifts You Must Return

While I was teaching in the Creative Writing class at Lee High School, a well-meaning student brought me a Christmas gift of two hermit crabs in an "eco" box, complete with sea salt water and hermit crab "pellets."  Not wanting to hurt the student's feelings and to be the gracious and kind person I like to think of myself as being, I made a fuss over the hermit crabs, and said how much "life" they would add to the class--like another window to the outside world.  However, as days passed, I noticed that the water in the sea water shell had not diminished and the hermit crab food pellets, intended to be utterly irresistible to hermit crabs, remained untouched.  Inwardly, I was miserable.  I don't like to remove creatures from their natural environment.  My mother always found it taboo even to pick up a shell with something living inside it; even if it was the shell of her dreams.

During Christmas break, I knew I had to take the crabs back to the sea.  I had looked beneath the seaweed and straw where they were hiding inside their shells, and I could not determine if they were living or dead.  They were completely still.  However, they rode in the backseat of my beat-up Saturn to Mexico Beach, just southeast of Panama City. 

 The hotel, where I have stayed, for almost 40 years, has five levels, including a parking garage that, like every room, faces the sea.  As I unpacked the car, I stood in a wind tunnel of moist sea air and took a cleansing breath. I reached for the eco box, praying the crabs, if they had been alive in the first place, had survived the journey.  To my delight, the crabs were not only alive; they were waving their claws and pinchers as high as possible, climbing against the plastic walls of their prison, as though saying, "We're home!"  I didn't even wait to get into my room, even though it was already dusk.  I know life urgency when I see it.

I drove to a point between Mexico Beach and St. Joe, on St. Joe Bay, where the water was shallow, and there, climbing over rocks, shoeless, I walked into the water with my cargo of alive and lively, no longer depressed or withdrawn, hermit crabs.  When they first touched the sodden sand, it took a moment for them to realize they were free.  Since I think most of us share that feeling in common, I gave each the tiniest of nudges.  Off they scurried, in what appeared to be hermit-crab abandon, and they disappeared under the water of the bay.

As for me, relieved and happy as a hermit crab mother who has released her offspring, I sat on a rock and watched the water until I could barely see it anymore.  I smelled the salty air, and I wondered just how long my hermit crabs had been waving their claws in the backseat.  Sea air carries far into the distance.  What longing they must have felt in their small beings.  I know.  I feel much the same about the sea in my much larger self.  I will never again accept a gift of hermit crabs in an eco box; or, if I do, I will immediately return them--let them go.  Home.  A place we all recognize from far away. 

Comments
6 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Beautiful. Thank you.

Beautiful. Thank you.

Comment Bubble Tip

Blog Hermit Crabs

Dear Jane,

 Thanks so much for your comment.  This was my first-ever blog on this site, and I was nothing less than terrified.  You have encouraged me to write more and maybe not be so "stiff" the next time.  Thank you!

Bonnie

Comment Bubble Tip

It wasn't stiff. It was

It wasn't stiff. It was lovely, and I enoyed reading it. I live in a poor community where all I see is suffering and reading provides nourishment for my soul. Thanks again.

Comment Bubble Tip

Blog Hermit Crabs

I'm so glad I chose a more upbeat topic, Jane! I see suffering all around me, as well, and too often maybe, I tend to lean to writings about suffering--some of which at least appear to have little to no redemption. Sometimes, I like to think that the redemption is in the writing itself, which allows me to release some of the sadness, and also to inform others about what is happening in my neighborhood--or in the world. However, it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes, focusing on the negative over a long period of time can turn me into a big dust bowl. In recent years, I look more closely for that tiny speck of good that at least creates a bit of tension or challenge for the darker side of life; and also a tiny speck of dark to create a bit of tension for the lighter side of life. Thank you for your kind support. I will try to send out nourishing blogs. We all need a million times more nourishment for the soul. I know I do. There's little of that to be ferreted out in the world, or else it comes to us by--well, it just comes to us! Thank you again.

Comment Bubble Tip

Very nice!

I could smell the salt air and sense the excitement of the crabs...I think I know what they must have felt like. Even the smallest of creatures can be depressed if confinded I'm sure...thank you for setting them free and for sharing this with us! It was lovely!

Comment Bubble Tip

Sea salt smell--

Dear Becky,

 Thank you so much for your very kind comment!  

 There IS something about the salty air of the sea that is like nothing else.  For me, it is healing.  I sometimes think if I breathe it in deeply enough, it will cure whatever is ailing me--physically or emotionally.  I had never imagined that hermit crabs could be "depressed," either.  I suppose that's my human word for it.  They simply knew they were away from their source of life, where they had everything they needed.  An "eco" box is no substitute for the Gulf of Mexico!  I do think they would have died very soon if I had not returned them to that powerful source of life; and that would have made me so sad.  Thank you again for taking the time to comment.  I look forward to reading a blog from you and visiting your site.