Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crabbing



"Ouch!"

Smack..smack..brush the ear..brush the neck..brush the arm... Darn Mosquitos! Suddenly, Jim shouted with a start. I looked over in his direction, and saw the silhouette (great word for a spelling bee) of an open shed, and the light from Jim's flashlight swirling around, as he tried to see something flying at him.

"Are you alright?"
"Gees! What was that!"
"What happened?"
"I think a big bird flew out of here right at my head!"
"Flew right into my head!"
"Scared the helloutofme!"
"I've had enough of these mosquitos' 'I'm going back to the truck.' 'What about you?"
"Yea, me too."

Back inside the truck we both asked the same question,

"Where are the crabs?"
"That guy got 24 of them, and we can't find one."
"What the heck are we doing wrong?"

An hour earlier, feeling great after a good meal, Jim and I decided that tonight we were going crab hunting. The crabs found on the island were Land Crabs, and came in two varieties: black and white. The difference seems to be in the coloration of the shell, and the word was that some prefer the white to the black for eating. From the Belongers we talked to, they both are quite edible. Thoughts of a Linguinne and crab dinner filled this cook's head.

I grabbed a long-handled tool with a metal head that opened and closed like a jaw, (still don't know what that tool's purpose really was) from its position just inside, and to the left of the downstairs entry door. It was purposely put there in anticipation of the crab hunt. Feeling confident that we could pin any Moby Crab down, and not get our fingers pinched off, Jim and I jumped into the pickup. Our companions wanted nothing to do with this adventure, preferring to stay in with cold glasses of rum and coke. They did wish us good luck, but it seemed to me that there was a slight hint of derision in their wishes too. So with laughs, and good lucks, Jim and I set off on the hunt.

Driving slowly out of the village, and even slower on the road, we headed north. I was riding shotgun, and with the windows down, hung my head, shoulder and arm out the window while using the flashlight to look closer into the edge of the brush. This technique was alternated with looking directly ahead, in the hope that we would see a herd of crabs slowly crossing the road. After half and hour of hard looking, the herd of crabs would gladly be exchanged for just a glimpse of one.

"Maybe, as we drive closer to the Flamingo bays, we should see crabs.' 'Right?"

Nada. Nothing.
Past the bays, and a mile or so further, we pulled onto the dirt road leading to the boatdock, where we had met our guide a couple of days earlier.

"There's got to be crabs around here."

After the startled-bird-flying-into-the head incident, the thought of a cold rum and coke, convinced us to turn around, and head back. We hadn't given up though. At that point of the hunt, all we wanted to do was to at least be able to say that we'd see one. We both hated the thought that we would return to our pals with absolutely nothing to tell.

I drove this time, and decided to slowly drive the truck in a leisurely side-to-side curving pattern up the road. Since leaving the house, we had not seen another vehicle out on the road, so felt no sense of being the cause of an accident. We were the only ones out there hunting. Still, we were careful, and slowly made our way up to the village, and left-turned into it, toward the house.

A block later, we made a right turn, and saw a fellow walking up the road ahead of us. I turned off the brights. Jim and I both felt and said the same thing about wanting to go back with a story that was better than, "didn't see a thing." We had even talked about the possibilities of setting up a crab trap. They had to eat something. What did those crabs eat? Could they catch those quick little lizards? Did they eat bugs? Eachother?

"Sure wish we didn't throw all of the fish carcasses into the ocean."
"Bet if we'd left them in a pile on the path to the beach, and checked the pile every 15 minutes, sooner or later, crabs would come to it."
"Yea.' 'We should have tried that."

Suddenly, at the end of a driveway, I saw a crab.

"There's one!"
"Where?"
"At the end of the driveway!' 'I'm shining my flashlight on it!"

Jim jumped out of the pickup. With pincerpole in hand, and flashlight shining everywhere like a kaleidoscope, Jim's big body suddenly flashed across the headlights, and in an instant he was standing over the crabspot, with pole down, and pointing the flashlight into the brush. For a big guy, he sure moved fast!

Seconds later, I was standing next to Jim, cardboard box in hand and looking down. Seeing nothing, I asked,

"Where is it?"
"I can see it!' 'There it is!"

Down stabbed the pole, and there was the crab, throughly pinned. Jim reached down to pick it up, and did so, by grabbing it from the back. But he got his fingers too much on the body, and the bugger got him just as he was releasing it into the box.

"Ouch!"

Laughter, followed by a look with the flashlight to see if the finger was still attached to the hand. Yes! Everything was still intact. A bit of blood, but we still had the crab. Nice big black colored Land Crab. Now, we had a story to tell.

Handshakes, more laughter and excitement punctuated the night's air as we drove up the road to the house. Passing the fellow walking up the road, we both noticed that he gave us a funny look. We laughed some more, and talked aloud about what that guy must of thought of those two crazy whitemen in the truck, and the stories he would tell to his friends and family.

Back at the house, we climbed the outside stairway up to the second story rooms, proud as can be with our box and it's new inhabitant. Opened the door to see our pals hurridly getting up from their chairs to greet us. The box was put on the table. The question, "did you get anything?" was followed by proudly tilting the box for them to see our great catch. That crab looked a bit forelorn. Mad too.

As a couple of pictures were being taken, the crab scrambled forward, almost making it over the edge and out of the box. Guffaws of laughter, exclamations and the quick tilting back of the box, just saved the victory from turning into a "mad crab dashing around the house, being chased by four crazy white men" moment.

After the victory, pictures were taken, Jim took the boxed crab down to the beach path, and freed it. Can't imagine what that crab must have thought about its personal Karma. "What the heck just happened to me?"

Timing is everything.

To be continued...

4 comments: