Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Susan's Shuso Blog: Lobsters and Clams and Little Furry Things

Last summer I spent a week at Tassajara Zen Center in Carmel Valley, California. My granddaughter Grace was with me. We were attending a five day yoga and meditation retreat. Grace is 16. She is afraid of spiders. Every day it was my job to remove daddy-long-legs from the white curtains that covered the windows of our yurt room.

I told Grace they were harmless, but this did not reassure her. At some point in my practice of Zen I found myself taking bugs and unwelcome intruders outside instead of automatically killing them. Saving small creatures from death can bring a sense of self righteousness. "Oh look at me now, I am practicing the first grave precept: "A disciple of Buddha does not kill."

Self righteousness dissolves when I remember the mouse poison I leave in the storage shed. . . a week later I discover two little furry things stiff and dead. Better them, I think, than the memorabilia and photos they use as nesting material.

I have been advised to trap gophers . " This is the only way to get rid of them," my gardening buddy tells me. You trap them and then you whack them over the head. This I cannot do.

I used to think nothing of dropping a green lobster into boiling water. I didn't connect with the pain of being boiled alive. I thought only of succulent lobster meat dipped in lemon and butter.

When I lived on Cape Cod I loved walking the clam flats at low tide. An air bubble meant there was a clam underneath. . . a quick dig brought forth a creature in a hard shell. . . a clam knife opened it. I topped it with lemon and cocktail sauce . . . yum . . . it doesn't get any better or fresher than that!

I no longer dig clams or boil lobsters. I do, however, enjoy clam chowder and lobster rolls prepared for me by others.

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