When I was a little girl, I heard a story telling how New Englanders would put live lobsters into a boiling pot and that you could hear them scream. Naturally this was very disturbing to me and I can remember thinking this was cruel and unusual punishment for these poor unsuspecting crustaceans. I could just picture them, marching in step across the cold ocean floor and then, whammo...caught in a trap, thrusted screaming into a pot, boiled alive and served up with drawn butter on someone's dinner plate. I was quite disdainful of this process. But that was before...
When David and I met in 1995, I had no idea of the grand adventures we would embark upon together. I just knew he was cute, had a million dollar smile, and was someone I could talk to about all kinds of random things into the wee hours of the night. Falling in love with him was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east every day. I didn't put up much of a fight. Just fell. Hard. And never, ever looked back.
The first year we were together he took me skiing in Winter Park, CO. A totally new and exhilarating experience for me that I will never forget. But then, the following summer, David brought me to East Boothbay Harbor, Maine to visit the place where he had spent summers as a child. He might has well have said we were going to Mars. What I knew of Maine was only what I had seen sporadically on TV shows or in magazine articles and I honestly had no idea what to expect. What I did not expect was to fall instantly, desperately in love with a place. To say I like Maine is to say that Imelda Marcos 'liked' shoes. I can't get enough of Maine. There is a peace and tranquility here I have yet to find anywhere else I have ever been. Being here heals me and restores me and brings me back to a place of wholeness. I think heaven must be a lot like Maine.
People of Maine are no-nonsense, hardy, tough-as-nails folks. As a Texan, I am looked upon with a bit of suspicion by the locals here. I don't blame them. I have chemically enhanced, blonde and red hair. I wear make up and I like sparkly things. I stick out like a sore thumb here. This doesn't bother me much, though. I love Maine but don't expect Maine to love me back with equal enthusiasm. I have enough love for the both of us. The first trip to visit Dave's family, part of the summer ritual was to go to pick up live lobsters and bring them home in paper sacks and store them in the refrigerator until it was time to eat them. They were all very matter of fact about it. They take the lobsters out and let them wander around on the ground, their claws disabled with thick rubber bands. Crazy. The first time I saw David's mom put a live lobster in the pot, I had to excuse myself to go outside because I had tears in my eyes and felt guilt and sorrow for my complicity in their demise. I'm happy to report that there was no screaming. Not on my part or that of the poor unfortunate lobsters.
Years have passed and I have adapted. Since my children were toddling around on wobbly legs we have been coming up here and they have carried lobsters around in their bare hands, letting them 'race' across the back deck while they shriek with glee and excitement. (The children are gleeful and excited, not the lobsters). It is a ritual now woven into the fabric of our family. They bring the lobsters into the house and participate in putting them into the pot. They dig into them with gusto, their faces are buttery, smiling, happy messes. I cherish these times. I always will. Unfortunately, in the 16 years I have been coming here, I've never developed a taste for lobster myself. I eat macaroni and cheese while everyone else joins in the lobster feast. That is my ritual. I know...I realize it's not the same but there are some vague similarities. For example, both macaroni and lobster have to be boiled in hot water. Just for the record, the macaroni doesn't scream, either.
I'm going outside, now. The tide is going out, the gulls are calling and there are treasures to be discovered in the tide pools. Flowers in the garden need dead-heading. The sparkling blue water beckons. The children are ready to explore the shore. There is much to do. I'd better get to it.
Here's a video proving once and for all that lobsters don't scream when they are in the pot. They do, however, squirm and wiggle a bit. *shudder*