Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hidden Treasures in the Creek

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!

9 comments:

For the Love... said...

That sounds great! Can you believe that I have never done that? For me creek=snake...

"J" said...

You want to hear how much of a TOM-BOY" I was growing up (THANKS TO MY 2 OLDER BROTHERS) I would fish for crawfish in the ditches! I would tie bacon to a string along with something to weigh it down...I would catch a ton! Is that not crazy or what?!?!?!?! lol =) GOOD TIME GROWING UP!!!

Do yall have crawfish boils where you are?

It's in season now....YUM-O...I love them!!!

GO TEXAS!!!

Mrs. Jules said...

Fabulous story, Leigh. We actually had a creek running through our backyard growing up and my brothers and I would bring back buckets full of tadpoles and frogs. My baby brother's legs were always too short to jump to the other side, hence our weekly proclamation, "Mom, he fell in the creek again!" She was a patient woman.

HEWY said...

You're right. I remember seeing their coco-puff towers lining every stream. I miss those little fellows.

They have disappear like fireflies which I remember being in swarms in out in the fields away from the farms.

Leigh said...

For the Love-that is exactly what I cautioned my daughter about yesterday when she said she wanted to show me something down there (which was a little island made from rocks I forgot to mention). I worried about it too. But ya know, never, ever did we come across a single snake back then. Probably to many kids around all the time would scare them away...

J- you and I are alot alike. I can't tell you how many times I skipped school to go fishing at a pond with a bunch of my guys "frans" (girls didnt do cool stuff like that). I never did know abou the bacon. Acyallu the creek that we got in back then was a sewage drainage (where the water runs to that goes from the streets.) No telling what all was in there. LOL. But no actual sewage, for certain.

Mrs Jules- Thanks! You were lucky, NEVER did we find any tadpoles or frogs, sometimes minnows though. Never that lucky...and yes! Someone evidently fell in. We didn't care, we just stood back up and went back to hunting our prey.

Hewy-You are correct, not as many "lightining bugs" anymore. We would catch those in jars. That is what we did during the spring/summer after a day of crawdad hunts. I'd put them in a mayo jar with holes pinched in the tin lid in my bedroom at night. In the morning release those that survived the night....
Not as many these days. I was sitting on my deck on Sunday evening and did see several in the woods. Assume just hatched, it thrilled me to death, I called the fmaily to come and take a look. It was little sparkling lights, like Christmas, but still not near as many as there once was, "Back in the day"...

frannie said...

what a sweet story! we used to hunt for snakes mostly, but other creepy crawlies, too.

Abbey said...

I loved this. I grew up in Texas and always looked forward to coming to Alabama in the summertime so we could catch fireflies and put them in a jar, just like you said. Sometimes we'd pinch off their light and put it on our ring finger like a diamond! Just realized we both love fishing ... I just got a new rod and reel, nothing fancy, but maybe we can go sometime ....

Leigh said...

Abbey-I love fishing, I will go anytime, though prefer salt water. LOve it! Seacrh my blog for fishing-lots of fishtales on here-in fact, it has its own section, you can check it out there too, called "Fishtales" on my sidebar.

Leigh said...

J-I realized I didnt answer your question. Do, we dont have to many crayfish boils, my fmaily does a "low country boil" with shrimp. I dont think the crawdads round here would be big enough to eat. I have a friend that is from south MS, I can always count on her to give me and my family our lousiana style cooking though. Look under recipes, her name is flo, she has given me some good ones-but no crawfish.....