Saturday morning catching crawdads in the creek at the bottom of R Street, lush mushy mud capturing our feet.
That’s what instantly comes to mind when I think of spring. Not flowers, not blossoming trees, not sudden showers or a steadily warming breeze. I am eight years old, up to my knees in the creek and bent over at the waist, my nose no more than an inch from the surface, giving me a clear view. I run my hand along the bottom, near the bank, to expose the holes where the crawfish have spent the winter, bringing up handfuls of mud and decomposed leaves that reek of death and decay, stark counterpoint to the sweet scent of the crocuses and daffodils that line the banks.
Then I pause to let the current sweep away the cloudy water to reveal crawfish slowed considerably by the still chilly water. Even so, they will be gone if I don’t act quickly, and it doesn’t help that my friends Ronnie and Goo-Goo, who lack my patience, are splashing each other with water not ten steps away, their brother Steven sitting on the bank crying, soaked to the bone from a brotherly push.
I look down. A crawfish looks up. And jets away.
If I had thought about it then the way I think of it now, I would have smiled, even laughed, because it was spring, muddy and wondrous, and every day was perfect and perfectly long. But I had missed the crawfish and someone had to pay, so Ronnie and Good-Goo soon found themselves soaked to the bone as well, and I along with them. Steven, who had stopped crying during the water fight, now pointed at the three of us and let out the only laugh I have ever heard that came close to a guffaw.
The creek is no more, filled in many years ago to make way for new homes. But my mind returns there each spring to hunt crawfish and fight Ronnie and Goo-Goo in the creek. I hope to catch that crawfish one day.