September 05, 2007


Well, despite my close encounter last week, I went running again this morning. The truth is, being able to experience nature is one of my motivations for running. A big one, in fact. I don't know how treadmill runners do it.
There's lots of wildlife in the rice fields. Birds are the most notable: hawks, kestrals, magpies. Migratory waterfowl, like ducks, geese, and swans are present, especially in the winter months. Sandhill cranes and herons can also be seen.
Toads and frogs are heard more often than they're seen. Once or twice, I have spotted snakes slithering in the sun. Turtles also make their homes here; at least, that's what I've been told. I've yet to see one.
Where I run.  It looks cloudy, but I think that's smoke from forest fires in the mountains.
Then there are the crawdads. Some folks, especially in other parts of the country, call them crayfish. At certain times of the year, as the rice fields are flooded and drained, they come crawling out, appearing on roads, lawns, and even my front porch.
Some people eat crawdads. I did, once, and found crawdad to be a rather tasty treat. Others keep them as pets. Imagine waking up face-to-face with a crawdad! Unlike fish, crawdads can easily crawl out of your aquarium, so watch out.

Crawdads have powerful claws that they use for crushing snails and small fish. Among some species, the claws are strong enough and sharp enough to shear a person's finger clean off. Ouch!
The crawdads I encounter when I run make me laugh. Once, when I approached one, he turned to face me, and raised his mighty claws high in the air, as if to say, "Watch out! These are deadly, and I'm not afraid to use them!" He raised his claws as high as possible, trying to make himself look bigger -- much like teenage boys flexing their muscles.
I took one look at the crawdad, and I said to him, "Give me a break. You're two and a half inches long! I could crush you with one step, and not even break my stride."
He looked back at me and stretched his oversized claws even higher, saying to me, "Oh, yeah?" As he did so, his raised claws made him so top-heavy that he toppled onto his back, and began flailing around helplessly.
"See ya later!" I said as I ran past him. (I did not, however, step on him.)
I ran maybe five yards when another crawdad saw me approaching. "Hey, hey, hey," he said as he turned to face me, raising his claws. And the ritual began again.
I laugh at the crawdads, but I admire them as well. They bravely face the challenges that confront them, rather than running away. It is true that I could (as I've mentioned) easily kill one by stepping on it, and yet the crawdads' behavior seems to work for them. Crawdads are crustaceans, and crustaceans have been on earth since the days of the dinosaurs. They must be doing something right, to have surived so long.
When I face challenges or problems in my life, I tend to ignore them as long as I can. But eventually, I must -- like the crawdads -- turn and face my challenges head-on. The church I pastor is currently facing its own set of challenges, which we have put off dealing with for years; but now they, too, must be faced.
Yes, I laugh at the behavior of the crawdads, but I learn from them, too.

1 comment:

joseph said...

Thanks for sharing part of your life with us.

We have crawdads here at the Regional park in Auburn,CA.

My father pastors Bell Road Baptist Church.