Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In praise of crawdad hunting......

Kurt recently posted about a "No one
permitted in water" sign, the fact that
the neighborhood kids ignored it, and
the underlying problem of people trying
to mandate that life be risk free.

We lived at the other end of the diversion channel that
provides much of the water to the creek that flows by Kurt's
house. Much like his kids are now, my kids- and their friends-
waded, overturned (and threw a few) rocks, and generally
played in the shallow water. There was a stretch of time when
crawdad hunting was their favorite activity. They would take
a butterfly net and a pail and head off to catch some crayfish.

For ten year olds (plus or minus), they learned some
interesting lessons. They learned that crayfish are very quick,
but predictable- so easy to catch. They learned that wild
things do better in the wild than they do in captivity. In the
ten gallon aquarium the crayfish were dead in 24 hours and
smelly in 48. They learned that dad's preaching about catch
and release was maybe better than catch, keep, and throw
away. (Eating was never considered an option). They
learned about working together, sharing, and the joys of just
splashing around in the water.

One late summer afternoon, Dan's friends caught sight of a
snake among the rocks in the channel. They were determined
to catch it. Not wanting to participate myself, and not being
willing to tell them to get out of the water, I found a
comfortable seat on the concrete headwall and settled in to
watch and listen.

About ten minutes into the exercise I hear my son say to
himself, "I am so scared. But Dad says that courage is being
scared and doing it anyway, so I'm going to be brave."

Took my breath away.

After another ten minutes, and no further snake sightings,
the kids abandoned their search and decided to ride bikes.

Life is very good.

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