Crayfish and weather

It rained hard last night. I went for a marathon twelve hour sleep and was woken the first time by cloying heat and then the second time by lashing rain. I’m rested now and in place for the first audience of the matinee. We might be able to keep dry.

I wait for the audience in a pathway flanked by overgrown nettles, with a little stream running by it. Everything is open to the public so occasionally I approach a dogwalker thinking they’re an audience member. Somebody was fishing in my sett earlier. Rain is forecast though, so there aren’t so many random members of the public today. We just build them in if they show up.

I wandered down to the riverbank and saw a string sticking out of the water. Immediately curious, and with the instinct of a geocacher, I pulled it up. Not a cache. A rather sickening moment of wondering. Chicken bones. There’s a bucket full of raw chicken in the river. Nothing else yet. It must be an improvised crayfish trap.

I wonder how effective it will be? Maybe I’ll check it again this evening. I won’t be taking any crayfish home though. Also I wonder if it’s put there out of necessity or greed. You’d think if they were hungry they’d eat the chicken.

I once put out a crayfish trap in Maine as a young man, for greed. I came back to find a drowned water rat and I felt terrible about it. If I’d been starving I’d have eaten the rat. But I wasn’t, and it didn’t look appetising so it died for nothing. I tried to sink it in the lake and it came back the next morning washed up in my sight to rebuke me once more. So I canoed it half a mile away and slung it into a bay where I correctly assumed it wouldn’t be able to find its way back to our little patch of shore. The whole experience rather put me off trapping crayfish. I used fish guts, which you’d think would be more effective and you can’t eat them. There were lots of crayfish in with the dead rat but my appetite for home caught crayfish was sorely damaged by the dents in the steel made as the poor drowning creature frantically tried to get out through the side of the cage.

I don’t think this bucket of chicken in this urban English stream is going to yield much. There’s probably somebody up river with an electric smartmesh that covers the whole river bed. Nowadays everything is done on such an industrial level it’s a miracle there’s anything left alive anywhere there’s water.

Here comes the audience…

Time passes.

And yep, the crayfish guy showed up by chance during the evening show. With his bike. Checked it and replaced it. No crayfish despite torrential rain. He hocked a great big loogie and wandered off. I reckon he’s working alongside one of the restaurants nearby. Like the guys in Richmond harvesting the garlic when the park wardens are trying to get them to leave it for the deer. He got none because they’ve had the lot already in that area. Another bit of the ecosystem funneled into the machine. “When I was a kid you’d lift up a rock around here and there’d always be a crayfish. Now you never see them.”

We suck. We’ll take ourselves out of the equation before long. But the more I think about how shortsighted and selfish we are the less I care about our continuance as a species.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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