Wednesday, November 28, 2007

South Fork of the Eel mystery

I was down at the river that goes through our valley. I take a walk every now and then. There is a road that lines along the bank of the river, and it is a good place to take a walk. More often than not, my walk is taken over by my curiosity. I seem to be drawn to the river bar, I look for the prettiest or most unusual rock, or piece of driftwood to take home to my wife. I try to pass it off to her like it was jewelry or something. She seems appreciative but the “jewelry” thing doesn’t fly with her.

I always check the edge of the water, the small tadpoles and baby fish interest me, and I like to watch the under-water bugs work and do their thing. I learned a long time ago that if a person will just stay really still, and not move or make a noise, that mother nature will perform for you every time.

I found a flat rock by a small pool surrounded by willow and river grass, I pulled my cap down low over my eyes, laid down on my belly, and set my chin on top of my crossed hands. I started to study the small pool under my nose. Soon, small fish came out of hiding and went back to feeding, I noticed several frogs that moved back into the opening in the middle of the pond, and the bugs were scurrying around doing what I’ve never been able to figure out.

As I laid still, trying to watch everything, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a critter was doing something under the edge of a rock. That soon took over my attention, and I started to speculate what it might be, as I watched, I could see a claw dart out pushing sand and muck out in front of it. After a while, a whole crawdad about three inches long came scooting out and scooted right back, as if to say “look quick, this is all you will get.”

I laid awake that night thinking about the crawdad. I hadn’t seen one in the river in a long time, and I wondered why I hadn’t. I got to thinking that it would be great to have a crawdad in my Koi pond. So I got up early, grabbed my goldfish dip net, and my fishing license, and headed to the river. When I got to the spot that my pet crawdad was hiding, I noticed that his spot was all dug up. I thought, wow, he’s been a busy little critter to move that much sand. Then I looked on the river bar beside the pool, and there was what was left of his tail.

There were coon tracks all over, but as I looked across the water, I saw a group of four river otters playfully looping through the water. I know now why I don’t see crawdads so much any more, but now I wonder who ate my little buddy, the Coons or the River Otter.


EkoVox said...

Dang it Ernie! I'm the one who is supposed to prompt memories.

We had a family of river otters who lived below our house. We would see them in the early spring mornings as they were bringing their young out for life training. They would travel up and down the river, but for some reason, they would stop below our house for about a month or so and we could see their shenanighans in the mornings. Very rare to see river otters. Count yourself lucky.

As far as crawdads....we didn't see them in the Lower Trinity. But, up in the Upper Trinity and it's tributaries, we would see them in the feeder creeks.

Anonymous said...

Another awesome story!

Lil Barney said...

Ernie: I've tried to get on for a comment about your article of the Round Valley and the book of Genocide & Vendetta. My husband's great grandfather was Wylacki John.
Wylacki John David Wathen, had a son named John David Wathen II, he inturn had twins by an Indian women, Frances (my husband's mother) and John David Wathen III, John David Wathen II married a white women and had a son, John David Wathen IV. John the III lived in Potter Valley and was a state trapper, John the IV had a ranch on Hwy 20, we purchased that ranch, but have since sold it. It is now being made in to a vingard. Known as the Wathen Vingard. I'm hoping you receive this note and you will email me. Lil

Ernie Branscomb said...

Lil Barney, I have no way to get your e-mail adress from a blog posting. Blogger cleans them off for privacy, but mine is

If you e-mail me then I can e-mail you back.