Two Dozen Crabs

by A. F. R. | May 1, 2023 | 0 comments

land crab
Land crab. Photo © Andrey Gudkov/

The cool Bahamian breezes tickle our faces. It is a relief to have some cool moments after this unusually steamy July day. We are following the quote, “One rainy day, one sunny day, and go crabbing the evening of the sunny day.”

Andros Island is the only Bahamian island that can boast of a “crab run.” From May to July of each year, a lot of the crabs walk to the marshes to lay their eggs. The western part of North Andros is basically all marsh, and is not inhabited by people. You can find crabs walking shortly after this time frame, although they will mostly have eggs.

This evening my sisters and I race around, grabbing our flashlights and headlamp. Gunny sacks complete our gear. We tell Daddy we are ready to go and then race to the bed of the Ford F-150 pickup. Daddy starts the pickup, and Mom jumps in the passenger door.

Our family does low-scale crabbing. We just drive slowly along the quiet road leading to Mastic Point. We spy some of our friends crabbing on foot along the road or in the bush. They have biked or driven out here, and are hoping that their evening will be successful! We wave and drive by, hoping to find some uncaught crabs. This a good road to crab along, especially because there are a lot of cocoa plum bushes. It seems that almost everyone knows that, for there are many crabbers out here.

My sisters and I peer above the pickup roof to see if we can spy any crabs. I am almost ready to rap on the roof, our signal for “I see a crab,” when I realize that the “crab” is only a brown glass bottle lying on the berm.

Soon we spy a crab, and rap on the roof of the pickup. Daddy quickly slows down and pulls off to the side of the road, turning on his four-ways as he does. We girls jump off the truck to catch the crab. Some crabbers are so experienced that they can just scoop the crab up behind its main body without pinning it down under their foot, but we are not very experienced.

While I am pinning Crab down, he somehow grabs ahold of my boot! I scoop Crab up, boot and all, and drop him into our burlap sack. Soon after he touches the bottom of the bag, Crab lets go of my boot because he thinks he is free. Alas! His assumption was not true, but at least I have my boot back! In frustration, he scrambles nimbly to the top of the bag, but I am ready to shake him down.

We leap onto the back of the pickup and start off once again. This procedure is repeated three more times before we walk along the road for a bit. One highlight of crabbing is that you get to snack on cocoa plums as you creep along, listening, smelling, and looking for a crab or so.

The musty scent, a characteristic of land crabs, tickles my nose. I listen extra carefully. A faint crackle issues from a nearby bush, and I focus my flashlight on an orange-brown crab. Finding my way around the bush, I chase the crab out onto the silent road. I swoop down upon it, pin it down, and then scoop it into my bag. I slowly start heading toward the pickup because Daddy had said that we were only going to spend fifteen minutes walking along the quiet road.

On my way to the pickup, I catch another crab. Rosanne hurries toward me. “I caught three crabs, and Mom got one,” she reports. “Daddy got five, and I think Marilou and Marie worked together to get three. It’s a REALLY good evening to crab. I don’t think we ever got this many in one evening, before!”

Daddy whistles for all the stragglers to hurry along, and we are soon heading toward home. We pause a few times to capture some crabs here and there, but are soon back at our pine-encompassed homestead.

A couple of us tote the crab sacks out to the crab pen and introduce the new crabs to the ones already inhabiting the pen. We carefully count the crabs as they pop out of their sacks. One, two, three, four…twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four…we shake the sacks to ensure that no more crabs are cowering in the corners of them.

“Two dozen even,” I sigh happily. I silently add, “Thank You, Lord, for a fruitful evening of crabbing.”

I drop a few cocoa plums into the crabs’ dish so that they have a little variety in their diet of rice grains and leaves. I spy a pair of glittering eyes sticking above the low rim of the water dish. The faint sound of bubbling water reaches my ears as the crab exhales while dipping himself in the water dish.

As I head toward the house, I notice the beautiful fingernail moon rising above the towering Androsian pines. In my heart I sing, “All the beauty, all the grandeur of the universe is mine…but for all I thank Thee, Lord.”

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