Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.
Crabby Crab is either dead or molting, and I don't think he's molting.
This is not the saddest news item right now, but it is the one that is most local to me. Let me start at the beginning. A while back there was a funny story going around our little blog circle about an art project that involved providing artificial shells for wild hermit crabs featuring corporate logos. While we were at the beach, we discovered that low culture is again light years in front of high culture.
Hermit crabs with artificial shells bearing corporate logos were for sale all over the beach. Hello Kitty. Spider Man. God Bless America. The works.
At first Caroline just wanted to go look at them. I was happy to indulge her, because they were cool. I didn't want to buy one though, because of an old lesson from Dale Jamieson: "It is prima facie wrong to keep a wild animal in captivity." I thought things were safe, because Caroline didn't seem to even understand that the crabs were for sale. But when she saw one actually sold, she caught on, and I gave in, frankly, because I thought the crabs were cool.
Caroline named the beast Crabby Crab, which we liked a great deal, and I immediately set about trying to find a way to keep the critter alive, knowing in my heart that it was useless, that these benighted animals were sold on the boardwalk like goldfish at a fair, a disposable "pet" for people who can't say no to their children. On the drive home we kept Crabby Crab's cage covered in a wet towel, so that he wouldn't overheat. When we got home, we found the web site of the crab lady, which had lots of good care advice. We bought an aquarium, heatlamp, and thermometer. We lined the new crabitat with playground sand. We kept the environment moist and used only filtered water.
We live a complicated life, like most people. So I never sat down and read the Crab Lady's whole site. I just read a snippet here and there and used the info for small alterations to our crab-care system. We read about bathing the crab to keep the air gills moist, so we tried a bath. Crabby Crab didn't move much, although sometimes we would wake up to find that he had burrowed in the sand, or moved his sponge. He would generally come out of his shell, though, if we took him out of the crabitat and placed him on the floor (after exiling The Ediedog to the backyard).
But he wasn't eating, and was moving more and more slowly. We put several different kinds of food in. I ordered more crab merchandise online, including a humidity gauge and water purifying equipment. The last night, after we put crabby crab on the floor, Caroline became distracted and started running around. While running, she accidentally kicked the crab, who then slid across the floor. We put crabby crab back in the crabitat, and hoped for the best. After Caroline went to sleep, Crabby Crab shed a limb. The next time I checked on him, he had fallen out of his shell and stopped moving.
When we got the crab, I worried to Molly about having to teach Caroline about the cycles of nature. Molly soon recognized that I was in fact the one who was not ready to learn about the cycles of nature. Me, the environmental philosopher. After I saw that crabby crab had expired, I stayed up late looking at pictures of the flooding (12:30, late for me) and feeling sad for nature, red in tooth and claw.
Look around the universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living creatures, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their on happiness. How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children.
Philo, in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, bk. XI.
Caroline still thinks Crabby Crab is just sick. There is an off chance he could be molting, but he should have been eating more food beforehand, not less. I told Molly I wanted a shoebox in the backyard--a good suburban animal burial. She asked if I was doing the production for Caroline or for me, and strongly implied that Caroline would not benefit from such an experience. I dunno.
I also don't know what we are now going to do with all this crab stuff.