A Home For Hermit Crab

23 Jan

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 9.00.51 PMBook by Eric Carle

Rayden has his first pets, two hermit crabs named Daddy and Baby. He named them himself: one is big and one is small. We’ve been reading Eric Carles’ book, A Home for Hermit Crab, and thought it’d be a good idea for him to have one. So off to Broadway Pets we went to get him a crab. As Rayden wandered the isles running from fish tank to fish tank, I realized that buying the tank and crabs all in one day would ruin the fun and the build up. I expressed my thoughts with Lori and we actually agreed. She immediately started rambling about ways to involve Rayden and how he should make the home for the crabs. I just nodded and smiled. We settled on buying just the terrarium–once a teacher, always a teacher.

* * *

The next morning we head into the backyard to get started. After a few handfuls of dirt and wood chips we hop in the car for a flotsam collecting expedition. Swan Island, the site of Portland’s airport from 1927-1940, is our destination. Having a beach to comb ten minutes from the house soothes my longing for the ocean. Waves lap, tides pulse, and the Williamette river slips by. Gulls, herons, cormorants and the occasional osprey dive and thrive within sight of Portland’s skyline. Adult steelhead and salmon head upstream to spawn. Their kin (smolts), swim downstream by the millions; they will return in thousands. Across the river, giant cranes twist and creak, lifting giant containers filled with cheap shit made by children in faraway places.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeserted beach on Swan Island. A clear winter day where two Dads thought it was a good idea to have a big fire to cook hot dogs with a four year old, a two year old, and an eight month old: Total Genius.

Big Head, the lab from New Zealand scratches at old growth stumps carried from high in the mountains. Rayden begins his search, his little bro’ Jaxen snuggled tight to Mommy. The high flows of winter deposits treasures and sweeps the beaches clean of summer trash. The possibilities are endless. With each stick Rayden picks up, we reinforce our goal of building a home for Hermit Crab.

Hermit Crab might like that stick. That will make a good place for Hermit Crab to hide.

He grips a gnarled root polished by centuries and he wonders.

Crabp wherrr arrrr yooooo!?

The ultimate prize is a frayed piece of nylon rope perfect for Hermit Crab to climb. After fifteen minutes, the hands of Rayden, the mighty explorer, are too cold and Jaxen is crying. The expedition is over.

* * *

The next weekend we were ready for the crabs. Lori brought them home and we strategically positioned them so Rayden could discover them hiding.

A video documenting the home building and crab finding…


Ryan Chin is the author of Without Rain There Can Be No Rainbows, a multimedia memoir about his teaching experience in New Zealand. He likes to call it a pet and teacher memoir sandwiched into an overseas adventure. The book is available at Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and locally at Powell’s Books. He tries to keep a stack on his dashboard for random giveaways so if you see a Chinese guy driving a big white van, throw a piece of fruit (preferably something soft like a banana) at his windshield; he might stop and give you a book.


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