Dah Lobstah Pound

photo 1Lobster Pounds are apparently along the rustic highways and commercial byways, places where you can buy living lobsters by the pound (.453 kg.).  Up in Maine the primary industry is lobsters, at least according to the many billboards and signs, restaurants and eateries that cluster along Route 1 hugging the coast.  True other industries exist from blueberries to paper pulp, tourism to potatoes, and don’t forget mining.  Actually, from an economic perspective, fishing occupies a sizable but yet a very slender line item within the overall economy.   However, don’t tell that to those who live on the coast.  Or the many, many, many tourists who come calling, especially in droves over the summertides with sticks of butter in one hand, a nut cracker in the other, and bibs covering the pajamas they have taken to wearing in public fittingly decorated with Sponge Bob Square Pants motifs.
photo 2If one has the chance to view the waters about Maine, they are cluttered with buoys marking traps, also called “pots” by the locals.  They clutter up the waters and along the shore one can collect a boatload of those that have broken free, were turned lose, or otherwise are not tided down.  One can see these buoys of different designs bobbing about in the waves marking places where the pots rest below.  Each design marks a different fisherman… or lobsterman perhaps… and I am told that fishing rights are inherited and passed down in families for generations.  These traps are everywhere but seem clustering about in generally good habits for lobsters.  I am not sure what those are, but when boating there were times I had to avoid more than others.  One can also see these pots stacked in the lawns in front of so many houses, especially the more dilapidated ones.  These lawn pots are either awaiting deployment or being cleaned or whatever other reason may have brought them ashore. While there still is the harvest of lobsters, some things have changed up in these areas while other features of the landscape and population appear to have remained the same.
When I was a young child, about a hundred years ago (at least just before The War), my family was to relocate from the suburbs of Gotham’s blessed Long Island to the rugged coastline of Maine because:
1. The Bomb
2. There were only so many bridges connecting the island to the mainland [in the event of The Bomb]
C. A whim of my parent or grandparent
For wherever reasons, we pilgrimaged to Maine and there found a house, I do not know how, since this was far before the age of the Interwebs and all those tubes pushing us up-to-the-nano-second pricing information on houses.  One of the parents, grand or otherwise, found a house on the mainland, right a few miles from the bridge to lesser and greater Dear Islands.  I remember there were a lot of abandoned houses back then.  And a lot of abandoned lobster traps.  Back then the lobster traps or pots were made of wood and perhaps tied together with hempen rope or maybe oakum rope since this is before we littered the oceans with quite as much indestructible plastic as we do today.  Lobster traps were everywhere.  They also were stacked up in front of the more dilapidated houses in yards also containing a number of older cars, some farm equipment, a boat or two, and sundry appliances but none of it working.  Back then a great percentage of these houses were rambling complexes of connected shacks, stalls, and barns, the later being perhaps the greatest in size of these complexes and in the greatest amount of disrepair.  This was The Age of Plastic on The Windows, after all.  The family was in Maine to inspect one of those structures, a house on a hill, the only tree close to it an apple tree and beyond were 40 acres divided between fallow fields and spindly woods.  We had some dreams, I know today these were unrealistic, but then I yearned to be up there, free from the suburbs, to make new friends, to have adventures, and to explore the many islands about.  It was a strange and fancy dream that perhaps stuck with me in one or another perverted form well into adulthood.  I used to draw houses that looked like the house we saw as well as islands all windswept and barren that sunk deep into my creative activities and childhood story-games.
photo 3Our Family did not join this collection of The People but settled elsewhere but in a house that would have fit in with the blasted and broken ones seen on those Maine byways.  Our new home Elsewhere like so many in Maine had the previous owners and those of his ancestor’s trash about the yard from washing machines to car parts and more glass than was needed in a yard.  Meanwhile, in Maine, the area about our never-to-be-ancestral-home became gentrified in the decades since I first visited as a child.  The house my parent and grandparent looked at remains on the road, but is unrecognizable with actual landscaping, and has become the idea of a country home rather than the country house it had once been.  It is quite nice and I assume no longer will be on the market for $40,000.  The fallow fields about that I remember made it so hot that summer day are now all woodlands.  There are new homes up there too.  Polite cottages and gate to unknown special retreats.  The wealthy, those of Greater Boston and perhaps even further south of there, have come to take whatever of the mainland and islands and reorder them as compounds and estates and high-end off-the-grid experiments.  However, the Old Down Easters, the Salt of said Earth, have themselves changed in many ways.  Replacing those old Yankee farmers and fishers are a mostly motley crew.  The older have changed too their comfortable clothes, the traditional garb of the People of Walmart that allow for the body to expand indefinitely in all directions.  The younger bounce about look as many do in this rich and green nation, tattooed and pink hair, like a Yamamatti interpretation of Twisted Sister as told to them by Willy Nelson.  To this end, they are visible from some distance, but like many locals in areas today, perhaps do not approach them nor make undo contact.  The group I saw at the gas station appeared so stoned, that I am not certain one could make contact with them.
Ir/Regardless, the villages yet remain quaint and there are some industrious members that still tend to the lobster traps or pots or whatever is set out under those floating markers in order to entrap strange and alien creature so we may boil them and butter them to no end.
To this mission, we came not to any Lobster Pound, but one so recommended by Yelp I think the computer came a little when we landed on the page.  At the end of some bridge or another, there was an unassuming establishment except that unlike the many other hundred thousand we had seen, this was was packed, forgive the pun, to the gills.  Getting in line to get through the door to get in line was a struggle.  The clientele was an eclectic sort, if by variety we mean Asian and from the dialect it seemed to be a heavy many of people of decent or from the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic Republic of South Korea were lined up along with the biker gang members, elderly locals, and other clearly touristic folks, ourselves included.
photo 5I ordered a lobster.  Fresh.  Alive.  Small.  Cooked, yes sir, cooked please, and what is the number, 10? Sir, 10? To this the man with the large apron on opened a cooler and wished out a lobster from the pile, just one of hundreds of creeping crawling lobster in there save that this one had but just been placed inside before meeting his doom.  However, this one did not take it like the others.  No, unlike the last group who lay in the bowl on the scale this one turned about.  Arched up, claws raised, mouth open, he (or she) cursed me out and in the little 1.5 lbs. for $9 a lbs cooked mind he threatened me with his claws – they were tied up with bands but I knew what he meant by his stance.  Before I could back down, before I could even process this threat, he was tossed into a net bag with my number on it (10), and vanished outside with a group of others.
I pondered this action.  I felt for him.  Faced with an alien land, with aliens actually looking right at him, he stood up, raised his claw fists and yelled, NOT ONE MORE!
photo 4Twenty minutes later, perhaps ten I do not know, my number was called and guiltily I went to collect his now hot and red body and the butter I ordered on the side.
There he was.  The defiant little guy I summoned death to greet in the pot outside the doom of all his kin that day and countless days hence and prior.  I do eat meat.  I eat sea food.  I just… never have to look the creature in the eye moments before eating it.  I sat for a moment.  I wanted to honor his short life, so I took the tools I was provided and broke open his shell to extract the delicious meat inside, so tasty that I didn’t need the butter substance… if indeed that was what was in the plastic cup.
Sated and having rent open a good many sections of the body of my friend, I collected the items, his sad remains, I no longer required, a mixture of his organs, exoskeleton, napkins, that “butter” and whatever other castings and shoveled them into the bin already full of similar leavings I guess to be hauled to the closest precipice and tossed into the abyss.  Of this, I saved some part of the front claws not as a trophy, but a reminder of this lobster that cursed me out.
There are but many Lobster Pounds along the coast of Maine, and perhaps other regions too. Day in and out they toil to toss these sea spiders into the boiling pots, a charnel house of terror that ends in yummy deliciousness.

photoEditor’s Note: Lobsters were harmed in the making of this blog.  Lobster pictured is serving suggestion only and is for information purposes only and my not have been the lobster so mentioned above.

4 thoughts on “Dah Lobstah Pound

  1. As someone who was born and raised on the coast of Maine, and now displaced in the Midwest, That was a good read. Made my morning. Thank you

    • Thanks. I was reminded why I fell in love with the place as a kid. I would love to move there, however, I am neither blessed with skills needed to work there nor with funds to allow me a “gentleman’s farm.”

      • I too am torn by wanting to go back, but the thoughts of the winters are unappealing to me as I age. And like you, it would be hard to find the resources at this point in life to make it a financially stable environment. My hometown has seen a lot of changes since I left in ’99. Don’t know as I would recognize a lot of it anymore.

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