That's right. We ate them. Right then and there. Bones 'n' all. First, the uninitiated among us learned how to gut fish, cutting off their heads and pulling a knife sharply along their bellies, then removing the innards, including pale-orange roe from the females. Then we shook them around in the icy water, to rinse off the remaining blood and guts, and into the frying pan they went, with a bit of oil and salt. We ate them tucked inside warmed hot-dog rolls — bones, tails, and all. They were crunchy, flavorful, and delicious. In a matter of minutes, we'd transformed fish into food. It felt, as one of us put it, "very essential."

As did the entire experience. Being "outside" in the middle of a freezing evening, with good friends, PBR, and food that went from sea to bun via our own hands — all of this was salt-of-the-earth type stuff, make-you-feel-alive type stuff, I-could-stay-here-forever type stuff.

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