Yesterday J Smooth had football practise. A creek runs nearby, which I cautioned Sledge not to go to close to. The banks were so muddy, and if there is mud and dirt around, my kids are sure to find it. Sledge wanted to show me something by the creek that she had discovered last time we were at the field. She and I trekked down to the creek and in it were these big rocks. Immediately my mind wandered to my childhood. There was a creek across from my home, where all the neighborhood children would meet. Children would show up with buckets in hand, setting them at the the top of the creekbank and we would take off our shoes and socks and get into the knee deep water, wading, looking -hunting.
"Sledge! Find a stick, one big enough to lift those rocks" I demanded. Sledge walked along the banks. I spotted one on the other side of the creek, jumped over the creek, picked it up and then jumped back across. The stick was big, big enough for me to break in half, using my foot for leverage in the break. I handed one end to Sledge and I took the other. "Sledge, you have to see this!".
As a child, the hunt was all about precision. Of course, as a child, the work was by hand. Taking a rock and carefully turning it to the side, trying not to muddy the water. If the water was muddy, we couldn't see "it". "It" was the crawdads, or some might call crayfish or crawfish that we were looking for. They would shoot out, swimming backwards at high speed. Children spent the better part of a day down at the creek. We would have contest, to see who could catch the biggest crawdad. Long before PETA, we had crawdad fight contest at the end of the day. It was a big build up to the "fight". At each crawdad finding, a kid shouting, "Wow! Look how big the one Brad found is." It meant finding one bigger, searching harder. We were all determined not to have our crawdad lose. By days end, with a good amount of crawdads to chose from in our buckets, each child would select a similar size crawdad and put them into a tub, which was our fight ring. The winner was determined by when one would run away or lose a claw. Then the winner would take on another kids crawdad. We spent most of the day in the creek.
"Sledge, have you ever seen a crawdad?"
"A what?" she asked. You know, I never hear of children looking for those these days. Thinking about it, I just don't see them. Not that I have looked very closely, but as a kid, there was a crawdad under every other rock. Tons of them. There was never a day you couldn't find several.
"A crawdad. It's a thing that looks like a tiny lobster. It swims backward". I explained. Sledge walked along the banks, "Is this one?" She pointed to a bug on the creek.
"No.", I said carefully sliding my stick under a rock and lifting it over so to not disturb the water, "LOOK!" out came a grey crawdad, shooting backwards through the water to only find another rock.
"Oh, My, gosh!" Sledge said, at this new discovery. "That is cool! It does look like a lobster! Will it bite or pinch you?""Oh, yes! They will pinch." I thought back to the numerous hits I took, a rite of passage for a child in my day.
We spent the better part of J Smooths practice, Sledge and I in that dirty creek, no longer concerned about getting to dirty. We saw a total of only two crawdads. But it was a new exciting discover for Sledge. Equally exciting for me, something I had all but forgotten, there in that creek and sharing it with my child. We are both looking forward to our next practice, so my daughter and I can hunt for the big one....and I'm bringing a bucket!
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