Today I caught a crab. Over the past fifty-some years I’ve caught thousands of crabs. As a boy with my family on the Eastern Shore. “Pulling pots” with my uncle Dale on Synepuxent Bay. On our dock in Murrells Inlet with friends from Atlanta. Today I was by myself. I wasn’t crabbing for dinner, I just wanted to do it. For me, it’s therapy. Dangling a bait to the bottom of the creek and wondering about the creatures below. Watching marsh birds slowly trusting my presence as they creep nearby in their hunt. Looking out at the marsh grass, inspired by its’ ever-changing colors. Breathing the salt-heavy air, forgetting about the things that don’t matter, and remembering the things that do.
Looking back down, I saw the taut vibration of the cotton line, signaling that Callinectes sapidus was enjoying a chicken neck. As I slowly retrieved the six feet of string, the clear autumn water began to reveal the outline of a sizeable Jimmy. As it got closer, I could see the tell-tale yellowish-brown, darkening the typically white part of its shell. This was no ordinary blue crab. This one was special. “Ol’ Rusty”, we called them back home and it reminded me of my sister. For those that don’t know, the rust-colored shell of a blue crab indicates that it was packed full of meat and ready to shed. These are one-in-a-hundred and a real prize for the steamer. My sister would always get so excited when she caught one, immediately claiming it later for dinner.
I sent this picture to Melissa and she called me immediately. “You caught Ol’ Rusty! Nice Work!” We talked for a while and promised to do it more often, most likely following a picture sent from one to the other; a nephew holding a big trout, a niece in the kayak with Charlie, a nice sharks tooth found on the beach, an Oriole on the feeder or Osprey building it’s nest. The beauty of nature is there to remind us to slow down, take a deep breath and look around. And don’t forget to call your sister!