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When the Frost is on the Artichoke…

Tonight we’re having our first Dungeness crab of the season, courtesy of a seafood store, and also courtesy of a traffic jam two nights ago that had us crawling so slowly down El Camino Real we were able to see the small sign on the corner that said FRESH CRAB STEAMED/LIVE. It’s typical of our life in the past fifteen years that we get to know a place just in time to leave it. Last year I depended on the Saturday morning farmers’ market for my live crab (being far too much of a food snob to do anything but kill it myself, particularly after taking a half-day class at Sur le Table taught by none other than West Coast Seafood‘s Jay Harlow–but not enough of a member of this community to even know who to ask about finding live crab). Now I’m more empowered in Palo Alto, crab-wise anyway, but next winter we will probably live elsewhere, and once again we’ll be finding hairdressers and local cuisine and gymnasiums and such, and maybe we’ll live somewhere that doesn’t have Dungeness crab and then I’ll have to find another winter ritual.

Perhaps next year, when her interim assignment is done, Sandy will get called to a church where we’ll stay for a very very long time, maybe even forever. Or I’ll get called to the be-all job that allows us both to live somewhere on my salary. Or we’ll keep moving, and it won’t matter that much because life is pretty good anyway even if we move so much we can’t remember if we buy our groceries at Safeway or Price Chopper or Hannaford’s. Plus everywhere we go we find a CostCo, and that means a just alternative to Wal-Mart plus really good free food samples (chocolate-covered raisins and then buttered toast today; I was going to wait for a taste of the smoked salmon, but as Sandy pointed out, waiting for the snacks seems a bit needy).

Meanwhile, the crabs sit in a pot on the stove, waiting for me to kick up the water under the steamer and finish them to a turn. I’m going to melt some organic butter, open the wine, slice the sourdough (how good bread tastes when you usually avoid carbs!), and steam my little friends, and then we’re watching War of the Worlds while the cats sit under the Christmas tree purring over memories of crab snacks.

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