April 04, 2005

City-Style Crabbing

I was greatly inspired (by a couple of posts written by Hick) to share a little story.
Hick was visited recently by a couple of her “city slicker” friends who were charmed by all that country living had to offer. Her writing style is comfy and her stories quite amusing. Thanks for the brainstorm, Hick!

As some of you already know, I moved from NYC to rural New England about 19 years ago and have adapted quite nicely to this calmer, more-mellow and slower lifestyle. I miss certain aspects of city life and will always refer to New York City as “home,” but I welcome the traffic-jams here which involve no more than four cars arriving at the same intersection together.

Upon my arrival in New England, my sister and her friends were my only social life. They all got a kick out of how charmed I was by simple “country” activities and local events. In retrospect, they went out of their way to introduce me to various rituals ~ it was like an initiation of sorts. (“Quick, let’s get a picture of the city girl feeding a roadside cow!”) For a time, I had become their main source of entertainment. I never minded this at all and often got a chuckle out of it as well.

One evening after dinner, a group of us had been sitting around and the guys were trying to come up with a new activity to “teach the kid” the next day. Don’t ask me how they arrived at this, but the fine art of crabbing was penciled in for the following morning. Joy of joys.

Up the next day at what felt like the crack of dawn, we were all bustling around the house gathering the necessities for our journey to a nearby cove. (“Nearby” to them was a 25-minute drive thereby finally demonstrating to me what “up the road a piece” actually meant to them)

Along the way, we stopped and picked up chicken necks. You didn’t read that wrong. They were able to stop into a supermarket, head to the butcher department and pay for a bag of chicken necks. Ew. I was told this would be our bait. No crabs in sight yet and I already learned something – crabs like to snack on chicken necks. I would imagine they don’t get the opportunity to do this very often just based on their natural environment.

We arrived at the cove and headed down the side of the roadway leading to the water’s edge. There we set up camp, so to speak. A blanket was laid out for my sister, so that she could sun herself (she hated crabbing) and each of us grabbed a can of soda or juice from our cooler. One of my sister’s friends was busy getting my equipment ready; a long piece of heavy duty string, a chicken neck and a tube of sun block. Someone had bothered to load a boom box onto the truck, so we had music to crab by. Apparently, this was essential.

Do-right, as I affectionately refer to my sister’s friend, then headed toward me issuing instructions as follows:
“Okay, now pick a nice spot to stand at the water’s edge, be sure the sun isn’t directly in your eyes because you’ll be standing there looking out for a while. Tie the neck tightly onto one end of the string, then toss it out as far as you can and just keep an eye on it. Sooner or later, I guarantee you’ll catch a crab… let me know when you can see him in the water and I’ll come over with the net.”

It sounded fairly simple to me, so I did as I was told and stood there watching and waiting. I watched and I waited for about 20 minutes while the guys were standing a distance away, talking with each other about the tide. I had already decided I wasn’t crazy about this crabbing crap and that it was best left to the bumpkins. The sun was annoying me (I had predicted that would happen), I was hungry and frankly, just plain bored to tears.

Suddenly something caught my eye below the surface of the water. Movement! It was a big crab and he was just sidling along with my chicken neck in his claw. Seeing this reduced me to a giddy six year old girly girl and I started to jump up and down, flailing my arms and yelling, “I got one I got one!”

“See that? Now draw him in very slowly with your string till I get there,” Do-right hollered.
“Okay! What string?” I asked, still jumping and giggling.
“Your string! Pull on it very slowly and don’t take your eye off the crab!” Do-right said again, impatiently this time.
“But I haven’t got a string to pull!” I answered.

By the time Do-right got to me, he was shaking his head at me in total disbelief and laughing wildly. I pointed to the crab that was now slowly moseying further and further away from me, chicken neck tucked tightly in his claw. Everyone was now standing by me, pointing and laughing. I failed to see the humor.

“How did you drop your string?” they all asked.
“I never dropped my string. I did what you said. I tied on the neck then threw it out as far as I could … hey, I’m the only one who caught a crab so far, what’s so funny?” I said.

When they explained through their chuckles that I was supposed to hold on to the other end of the string as I tossed out the neck, I was both embarrassed and disgusted with my blonde, city self. “Well you didn’t SAY that!” I insisted.

The others couldn’t believe the crab helped himself to my chicken neck then paraded himself right up to me to show how clever he’d been. He was moving more quickly now, but Do-right managed to gather him up in the net anyway, and said he’d have quite the story to tell at work the next day.

The remainder of that day was very uneventful compared with this little incident. My “take” was one of the only three any of us caught that day, so the guys put them back into the water since there weren’t enough to make a meal. Secretly, I was pleased with this.

I suppose there was irony in the fact that I did “catch” a crab, since the others were going about it the right way and weren’t very lucky. Do-right still insists that I never technically caught that crab, and I just smile and tell him that I caught it in my very own special way.

Nowadays, I enjoy watching and holding the various crabs we have at the Aquarium. I'll have to ask our husbandry team just how they were caught.


Anonymous John said...

I'm glad you had fun Carol! Do you eat sea food? I have never been able to handle it... If something doesn't look good or is slimy, I can't possibly eat it!

The gal who came for the suntan had the right idea... ;)

7:43 AM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

Just because you didnt do it the right way.Doesnt mean it didnt have the same results.You caught that crab girl.Dont have anyone try to tell you anything different.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Carol (Smiles and Laughter) said...

Sounds to me like yours is the RIGHT way. They just hadn't figured it out yet!

Glad you let the crab go. Not that I wouldn't eat crabs. But when one comes back to say "thanks for the chicken neck" I don't think I could eat it. ;)

11:21 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Thanks for the nice compliment. Your post made me laugh and it delighted my city slicker friend who was visiting me.

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around crabs eating chicken necks.

4:24 PM  
Blogger happyandblue2 said...

LOL. Well at least you took part in catching it. Maybe you can teach another "city slicker" how it's done some time..

9:02 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I like seafood, to a point. I will eat clam strips and popcorn shrimp and even octopus, but only if it is deep fried. But you could not get me to touch crab or lobster or fish.

This cracked me up. Especially since, when I first read the title, I was thinking crabbing was the art or act of being crabby...sort of like b*tching. You know what I mean? So I was really surprised to read about the crabs!

I knew about the chicken necks. Nora Roberts wrote a wonderful trilogy about three brothers who live on the water and one of them is a waterman. Her descriptions and characters are so real that I am almost (not quite) thinking about moving to Alaska. And I hate winter.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

Well you followed the instructions given and dinner walked up to you and said Hi. So what's the problem? Write your own how to book on crabbing.

2:03 PM  
Blogger L said...

too funny! this post really brings back memories :)

6:50 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Very funny story. Love your writing style. :)

6:55 PM  
Blogger blue2go said...

An entertaining story, kinda like Peanuts, but a lot better!

10:05 PM  
Blogger NYCbeauty said...

I'm definitely loving NYC, but miss the slower pace myself. Oh, and by the way, at Passover, the rabbis say, if you can't find a lamb shank for the passover plate, you can use a chicken neck instead. I have shopped for many a chicken neck in my time!

12:26 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...


This is a great story! I don't see myself ever going crabbing, but I surely enjoyed your tale. I think you had the best way to catch the crab!

Keep the great stories coming! I'll never get tired of them.


5:09 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

So now you have that "New ENGLAND state of mind."

It sounds nice.

2:27 PM  
Blogger "AG" said...

I left NYC for New England 20 years ago when I was 17. I love it here and will never move back.

5:10 PM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

In Texas we crab with a rod and reel and a net, using bacon. You still have to be careful when you start to bring them in and net them before they can see you.

We do use the string trick when fishing for crawdads...

I think your method works as good as any and is much better than some of the ways my redneck buddies have gotten crabs...

4:45 AM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

it should not matter how you caught the crab. every one has their own method. they were just jealous.
thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. have a good day.

7:29 AM  

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