Notes on Learning and Disappointment

It was quiet in the boat last night on the way home. We’d gone out to pick up the pots and found two of the four missing….minds fumbling through the possibilities of sea grass entanglement at low water, strong tidal pull out in Padilla Bay dragging them out over 100 feet of line, or a middle of the night, early morning pirate taking spoils…..what I like about foraging for my own food is the wonder of nature, learning what crab are most attracted to as possible food – raw chicken, horse clams, salmon carcasses, these are specials on their menu. Becoming comfortable with what comes up the line….no legal crabs, but a wild and woolly starfish the size of a throw pillow, day-glo orange, the delicate beauty of a molting crab shell, sending the little ones back to grow, grow, grow!  And looking at depth charts to see where they like to congregate most and developing the poorly researched theory about crab family neighborhoods.

It is a different thing entirely to find your pot gone and suspect that someone has pirated it. I don’t want to think about it. Sometimes it seems likely that someone has pulled a pot and taken a couple….the latch isn’t quite right, the pot is 50 yards off mark, just enough space for a pull and a drop back down. That seems ok to me, share with those you know….those you don’t…this is ultimately food, though I love the way to it, the ride, the cold, the wet, the wild claws grasping my sleeve,  as much or more.

As we drifted back and forth out from Hat Island, scanning for a stray buoy with Bruce’s signature knot on top, the mind does drift too, to the worst case scenario.  At one point a bay boat came speeding up, one salty dog (too much beer?) shouted out “Hey, these are our pots all along this here line!”  Well, we can look can’t we? At home, hungry, disappointed, even with garden vegetables packing the fridge we needed some other kind of solace……a juicy, rare bacon cheeseburger with fries and a beer. So we hopped down to the local pub just before the kitchen closed to sooth our wounded souls.

Our days of leaving pots over night are done. We will plan to put them out in the morning and pick them up later in the day…..or drop and fish and pick up in a few hours…..we know how fortunate we are to be out there in the world, having resources others do not, we can celebrate the mystery of the missing pots. We’ll have our toasted whole grain bread with fresh cheese, home-grown tomatoes and basil for dinner tonight.


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