Sunday, July 23, 2006

Paddling along and crayfish fate

After a few hours sleep today, I woke up to go canoeing with friend and co-worker P.F.. After dragging the canoe out, hosing it off, and loading it on top of the Jeep, we set out for a local lake. We paddled for four hours or so, good exercise for my muscles that have become lazy and stiff lately. The speed limit on the lake is 10mph, but another boater, North River OR 33 AAP was trying to go water tubing. They would have been called in to law enforcement by PF, who enjoys a calm lake, had the cell phone coverage been better. As it was, I guess the driver thought my binocular level interest in him was personal. We meant to circumnavigate an island in the lake, but found ourselves at a dead end, not an uncommon scenario in blind navigation around here.

Anyway, a good day seemed to be had by all, talking about whatever came to mind and chewing the snacks of cashews and dried mushrooms PF brought along. Dried shitakes are a surprisingly good snack.

The subject of a grade school science experiment came up. Sometime around fourth grade my science teacher asked two students to bring in a live animal in a jar. I volunteered to bring a crayfish (we called them pinch crabs,) and a boy brought in a bug of some kind. It turned out to be a question of oxygenation. The bug got holes in the lid, the unfortunate crawfish had none. Of course, you know the result.

Question: Why did my pinch crab have to die? I wonder if my fourth grade teacher made a judgment call to allow the creature that she deemed to have the most merit to survive. What's better, a bug or a crawfish? Crayfish eat bugs or their larvae. Or was it a decision based on her personal affinity for the students in question? Who knows, maybe it was a random choice, crayfish fate decided by drawing lots.

Does it mean anything? I guess not. Those crayfish were my personal pets. I spent many hours carefully catching them, keeping them in jars and always eventually returning them to the DeWitt Run behind my house. I don't remember many details from my childhood, but suddenly that is clear in my memory. I was never a favorite of either teachers or classmates in school and it seemed like a slight to me.

Is there a lesson to be learned? Is one species better than any other? I'm a meat eater and leather wearer, so obviously I think so, no matter what I say. I think my kitties are better than the bugs they sometimes kill and eat. I leave rat poison in my attic crawl space. I religiously deflea the kitties and gleefully squish any mosquito unfortunate to land on me. Maybe it's a lesson about giving the underdog a chance.

On the other hand, it could have something to tell me about people. A reminder to be more considerate of others. A comment on illegal immigration or racism or gender discrimination. Some people say I overthink things. Is this too much too derive from a long-ago-dead crayfish?

What do you think?


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