Sleep­less and hun­gry

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

I get a lot of joy out of hav­ing a large fam­ily. We never run out of scary sto­ries around the camp­fire, snow­ball fights can be in­tri­cate, half-day af­fairs and we don’t have to look far to find some­one will­ing to be the “mon­key in the mid­dle” at the swim­ming pool.

But there are draw­backs, too. Lately air travel for a fam­ily of six can be a bit ten­u­ous. We al­ways pay the ex­tra fees to pick out spe­cific seats ahead of time, but there’s been more than one oc­ca­sion that we’ve got­ten to the air­port (ex­tra early, I might add) only to find out that our en­tire group has been part and parceled out over the plane. So far, we’ve got­ten lucky that some kind-hearted souls were will­ing to switch seats so one of us could at least sit with the lit­tlest two.

Then there’s sleep, which can be darn elusive around our house. To be hon­est, my hus­band and I had ab­so­lutely no idea what we were do­ing when we be­came par­ents for the first time, and sure, we made a lot of mis­takes when it came to sleep-train­ing our chil­dren.

But, na­ture was against us, too. Each child was born with some sort of hom­ing in­stinct that lets them know the in­stant we have fallen asleep. The rea­sons for wak­ing us are as nu­mer­ous as they are cre­ative: leg cramps, night ter­rors, strange noises, pos­si­ble spi­der-sight­ings and, my fa­vorite of them all, the ever pop­u­lar ex­cuse of “I can’t sleep” (so why are you wak­ing me up to tell me?).

I was a heavy sleeper be­fore hav­ing kids, but a decade of be­ing roused in the mid­dle of the night has taken its toll and now I have a hard time fall­ing back asleep af­ter be­ing awak­ened. You’d think that would be com­pletely un­for­tu­nate, but there are ac­tu­ally a few lit­tle-known ben­e­fits to be­ing awake in the wee hours of the morn­ing.

Some­times, I eat break­fast twice. And I’m not talk­ing about oat­meal or a piece of toast. Be­ing awake all night calls for a hearty meal like waf­fles or eggs sunny-side-up, with some­thing greasy on the side such as ba­con, or my per­sonal fa­vorite much to my hus­band’s dis­com­fort, scrap­ple.

That lit­tle bit of grease keeps the stom­ach on an even keel, kind of like hav­ing a cheese­burger first thing in the morn­ing to avoid a hang­over. Which, come to think of it, is a feel­ing sim­i­lar to not sleep­ing most of the night and then tr ying to be awake and at­ten­tive all day long. Lots of caf­feine and some­times co­pi­ous amounts of cho­co­late candy bars are nec­es­sar y to keep my eyes open and brain alert.

And I’m al­ways very up-to­date on the lat­est in­fomer­cial of­fer­ings. I know I’m not the only wife out there who has lim­ited knowl­edge of how to change the tele­vi­sion chan­nel. We only have one TV set and one DVD player in the liv­ing room, but we have no less than eight dif­fer­ent re­mote con­trols for all the ex­tra add-ons like Netflix, Ap­ple TV, and Fire

stick. Even af­ter sev­eral demon­stra­tions, I am still only able to op­er­ate two of them ad­e­quately.

So, if I’m up in the mid­dle of the night and those two re­motes don’t work, I’m out of luck and stuck watch­ing what­ever chan­nel the TV is al­ready on. And that of­ten means in­former­cials. I’ve come mighty close to buy­ing hair care sys­tems, vac­uum clean­ers, and even a spe­cial rack for cook­ing ba­con in the microwave. I’ve re­sisted temp­ta­tion so far, but I’m not sure how long I can con­tinue to hold out.

About two weeks ago I was up in the mid­dle of the night again. I’m not sure what night it was. I think it was a Satur­day, but I can’t be ex­actly cer­tain be­cause sleep de­pri­va­tion af­fects mem­ory, that’s a proven fact. I was lucky that night, though. Even though the tele­vi­sion re­motes I know how to use weren’t work­ing, the TV was set to Mary­land Public Tele­vi­sion, and af­ter a few min­utes, I took no­tice when a half-hour spe­cial all about eat­ing crabs came on.

It was filmed in 2006, but many of the restau­rants across Mar yland’s wa­ter­front are still fa­mil­iar land­marks to­day.

There was Harris Crab­house in Kent Nar­rows, Cantler’s in An­napo­lis, and Capt. Billy’s on Pope’s Creek, all places I’ve had the honor of crack­ing crabs. Most of the scenes ended with the nar­ra­tor feast­ing on Old Bay-en­crusted crabs with an ice-cold bot­tled beer as sole ac­com­pa­ni­ment, and by the time the 30 min­utes was wind­ing down, I had a strong sus­pi­cion I’d be hav­ing crabs for din­ner my­self soon.

I just couldn’t let this de­sire go and this past week­end we picked up a cou­ple dozen hard­shells from our lo­cal joint. It’s not a wa­ter­front res­tau­rant, which is just fine with me be­cause a view isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a pre­req­ui­site for good-tast­ing crabs.

I’ve been get­ting my crabs there since I moved to St. Mar y’s County and they are al­ways heavy and de­li­cious. This time was no ex­cep­tion and we de­voured ever y last one. Even though it was a lit­tle on the cool side that day, we en­joyed them out in our yard on a pic­nic ta­ble cov­ered with news­pa­per along with ap­ple cider vine­gar and Old Bay for dip­ping and fresh corn on the cob on the side — a true crab feast.

The show got me think­ing, though, of how many dif­fer­ent places there must be to get crabs in South­ern Mary­land. And even though I’ve lived in these parts for nearly 40 years, I might be miss­ing out on a real gus­ta­tory gem.

Just like hav­ing oys­ters Fri­day night at Snell­mans or a crab­cake and stewed toma­toes at Jerry’s, some­times only the lo­cals know the very best places to go for an ex­cep­tional meal. So maybe you could help me out and tell me, where’s your fa­vorite place for crabs? I’m look­ing to broaden my hori­zons this sum­mer.

I’m also look­ing to get more sleep. Heaven help me if I get stuck watch­ing a show about lob­ster rolls next time I’m up. I just don’t have time for a trip to Maine right now.

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