Friday, February 27, 2009

Crawdadding

When I was a kid we went camping, alot. It was the only sort of vacation my mom could afford--and I loved it. We were lucky to live close enough to Big Sur that we went often. It was like a home away from home.

Us kids became Junior Rangers every summer through the state park's program, and my mom made a great production out of making stone soup. Other than that the kids pretty much had free reign. We played in the river, climbed trees, and hiked on the trails making up whatever games suited us.

Another thing we liked to do was go crawdad fishing. My mom would give us a string, a piece of bacon, and a pot, and we were good for hours. We knew the good crawdad holes. You could sometimes see the crawdads crawling around on the riverbed through the crystal clear water, their little pinchers reminding us to wear our tennis shoes in the water lest they find us tasty.

Our favorite fishing spot was a deep, sandy pool where the water slowed and swirled. We had to walking across a big metal retainer that kept the hillside from sliding into the river. At its end was a small landing where my sister and I could settle ourselves in for catching crawdads.

We tied our bacon tightly to the ends of our strings and sent them to the river bottom. Then we would wait, watching through the ripples, looking for the teeny, prehistoric looking creatures that were the closest we'd ever seen to lobsters. It could take a while, for the crawdads to notice our bacon. We'd let it float and drift, trying to tempt them with its deliciousness. Yet we tried to be still and patient so as not to scare them away. They were ever wary of our over zealousness; seemed to sense our every move and hear our whispers. So we sat, quietly, patiently, waiting for a crawdad to notice our offering.

Sometimes they didn't notice, and we would come back to camp emptyhanded, with nothing to show for our efforts. We would always try again because the fun was in the doing. The trying. And that's how it is with writing. Of course we want the reward, we want that book in our hands, but if we don't find the joy in the writing we will never get the bucket full of crawdads. It takes alot of time, patience, and thought. It takes work. Sometimes there is a reward, but more often there isn't.

And yes, sometimes we would catch crawdads. Once one crawdad took notice of our bacon another usually would, and then another and another until they were climbing over each other to see what we had(Is that what a book auction is like? Hee hee.) When one had a firm grasp, we'd pull, slowly, bringing the crawdad to the surface where we could plop him into our bucket. And then we'd take them back to camp to show that yes, we actually did accomplish something that day, as much as we looked like we were enjoying doing nothing.

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