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  • Rich drove up in his pickup truck as I repaired the old traps and rolled down his window with a mischievous grin. "Plan on doin' some fishin' there, Erik?" he said with his heavy Downeast Maine accent and a chuckle. The old wooden traps I was fixing wouldn't be hauled out into the bay ever again and we both knew it. The traps' "kitchens" (where the bait had been tied all those years ago) and "parlors" (where the lobsters crawled looking for a way out only to become stuck deeper in the trap) would never hold another lobster. The only fishing they would do now would be to hopefully lure folks in off of the highway to see them piled up and decorated for the Christmas season. Maybe they would then stop in at the Market and arrange for lobsters to be sent to family or friends who lived "away" as a Christmas gift. After his chuckle, though, it became clear that there were still memories that had long ago come in through the kitchens of those traps and which still rested, even now, in their parlors. "My first 20 traps were just like those," he said. "They fished so much better than the wire ones."

    After Rich left and I went back to my work, I found there was still more resting inside those traps. The pieces of wood that formed the half round shapes had been steamed to be pliable enough to take on that shape. Each bent piece had been set into a mortice cut carefully into the base. The doors at the narrow ends of the funnels were made of sticks bent with skill into nearly perfect circles. The whole design had an almost Shaker-like simplicity and unintended elegance. Inside those traps, beside the memories that sit in the parlors, still lingers the fingerprints of hardened hands; hardened hands filled with skills that were almost certainly then taken for granted but now are lost to all but a very few.

    Maybe I'll fix one of those traps so it can be hauled out into the bay again. Not just so the trap tree will last through the weather of the season, but so all the doors work, the funnels are tight and the hatch opens, closes and locks. Maybe I'll fix just one trap so it will fish again and see if this Spring it won't catch just one more memory.
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