A crayfish crawled out of the neighborhood stream—its little crustacean arms spread wide, its claws flared, its mouth wide open—and it looked like it was saying, “Let me in your house! I’m fun; I promise!” A neighbor snapped a picture of the whole spectacle and slapped it onto the neighborhood Facebook page. When I first saw it, I thought it was a joke. A crayfish, running around on its hind legs in mid-day sun on asphalt? No way! But then, I looked closer and recognized the houses on the street, which were right next to my street. The caption for the photo said something like, “We’re being invaded!” Other neighbors responded to the post by saying they had seen “many” crayfish “all over the place” in our neighborhood. So, I truly believed that our neighborhood was flooded with crayfish, and I thought that would be the best thing I could ever see in my life.
If I couldn’t believe my neighbors, who could I believe? I ran as fast as I could downstairs to open the front door. My steps on the staircase must have sounded like an urgent craft alarm was about to go off, so Nate and Alex ran after me to try to stop me from any kind of crazy crafting that could possibly destroy the raging amounts of productivity that coincide with a sunny afternoon on a Friday before Labor Day weekend.
“What’s going on?” Nate asked.
I didn’t think I had time to answer him, so I just flung the door wide open and saw. . . nothing. I didn’t see what I expected to see, which was a ticker tape parade of crustaceans who’d decided to explore life beyond the stream.
“Ugh! I’m soooo disappointed!” I said. “I was expecting to see a mountain of crayfish, but I missed them. I must have seen that Facebook post too late.”
When I showed Nate and Alex the picture on Facebook, everything I said made more sense—and now, they wanted to see the crayfish parade too.
“We’ll see them better at night. That’s when they’re active,” Nate said.
(The Washington (state) Department of Fish and Wildlife confirms that crayfish are active at night, and they can be caught with small pieces of fish or dog food. Here’s a link: Fishing for Crayfish.)
After dinner, when the sun had set and the skies were growing dark, Nate, Alex, and I went out with our phones, with the flashlight app kicked into high gear. I was expecting to feel prickly, crispy shells poking at my ankles, but the crayfish were not running around the neighborhood streets. So, we looked down culverts, where we might expect to see the Pennywise clown—we were brave—very brave—piercing the culvert slats with twigs but nothing pierced us back. Near the stream, we didn’t see any signs that the crayfish had been out at all. With hope still in our hearts, we trudged all the way to the entrance of our neighborhood. Near the entrance, there’s a decorative fountain where frogs play and make all kinds of noises. Perhaps the crayfish were sliding down the waterfalls and riding the backs of toads. Oh, we could only dream of such a sight!
“Look for crayfish castles, too,” Nate said.
That sounded even more magical. I was now imagining crayfish crown-wearing royalty that lived in castles, rode bareback on toads, and ran down the streets of neighborhoods for all to see.
We searched and searched for those dreamy “castles” (which are really tiny mounds of clay/sand) but didn’t find any. I wondered if I could call them with some kind of sound that they would respond to. Apparently, a professor from the University of Exeter recorded a symphony of underwater creature sounds, and the crayfish that he recorded made some kind of loud, trumpet-like hooting noise. (Here’s the link to that article: “University of Exeter: London Aquarium Captures Rare Fish Choir Sounds in a First for Underwater Recording.”)
Eventually, we gave up, but we did take a beach walk along Whidbey Island this morning, and I snapped this picture of a crab. I know. It’s dead, but it’s a crustacean, and it will have to do for now—until the next crayfish parade sweeps across my doorstep. Then, I’ll be prepared with toads and castles for their enjoyment—and I’ll rig the craft alarm so that it makes regal trumpet-like “hooting” sounds.
In Other News: Little Old Lady Comedy has published a humorous essay I wrote about the time that Nate and I went bed shopping when Alex was around nine years old. It’s called, “How to Read in Bed.”
Also, I will have a bi-weekly column in The Daily Drunk literary magazine! I will be providing adult beverage reviews—I’m so excited—and nervous! I think there will be big, big expectations for drink reviews. The chardonnay from the grocery store that I’ve been drinking won’t cut it.
Your Turn: Is there any interesting wildlife where you live? Do you ever get to see it? What’s the best way to see it?