The Sand Crab On The Rocks

It was too windy to play golf so I was taking the back way to town, looking to see if the recent rains had raised the river level. I looked down the riverbed as I crossed the bridge, and was surprised to see the Sand Crab sitting on a boulder near the shore. I’d never seen him away from the course, so my curiosity got the better of me and I pulled over. He apparently heard me crunching through the pebbles as I approached, because he flicked his cigarette into the water and looked over his shoulder in my direction. When he saw it was me he shrugged, waved, and lit another cigarette.

“Too windy for you, too?” he asked without turning around.

“The first big front of October always does it, Crabman. No cold, but a lot of wind. I’ve never seen you off the reservation before. The TV in the grill go on the fritz or something?”

He snorted. “I got a life, you know. It’s peaceful out here. Or at least it was.”

I let that remark slide and waited for the follow-up, but he just kept staring at the river. I gave up after a while. “I can leave if you want. I just wanted to say hello.”

“Nah. I’ve had my fill of peace and quiet. Do you cross the river here on your way to the course, or were you going somewhere else?”

“I’ve got a life too, Crabpot. I needed a few things for dinner and decided to take the long way into town, see how the river was doing. It’s up a little, don’t you think?”

“Maybe a bit. It still isn’t more than a foot deep, at the most. So you live near here?”

“A few miles from here. If I take the back way to the course or town, I come through here. It puts me in a good mood for a round if I can take the time to come this way.”

“You need to do it more. You’ve been cranked up a lot lately.”

“Meaning what, Crabs?”

“Your swing’s too fast about half the time, you jump at the ball like it might get away, I’ve even seen you lose your temper. That’s not you.”

“I’ve been pretty busy. It gets light later in the morning so I have to hurry more to make my tee time with all the stuff I have to do before I leave the house, and ….” I stopped talking when I saw he’d lost interest.

He pointed downstream. “You ever been around that bend in the river?” I shook my head. “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. Either say something or come around where I can see you.”

“No, Crabs. I’ve never been around that bend.”

“That’s better. I haven’t either, and I’ve lived here all my life. I just drive through here, glance at the water, sit awhile like this about once every five years. Never looked around that corner. Never seem to have the time.”

I caught myself starting to nod. “I’m always on my way somewhere when I come here, too.”

He acted like he didn’t hear me. “It’s kinda like that tree on the eighth hole.”

“Which tree, Crabs. That hole’s full of trees.”

“The last big one, about 125 out. The ball magnet for second shots.”

“I’m getting lost here, Crabman. Explain.”

“I’ve played that hole the same way for more years than I can count. I keep telling myself I should try a different approach, stop trying to hit over that tree. But I keep doing the same thing, keep hitting the tree. I never take the time to try something new.”

“I saw you hit over it once.”

He laughed and flipped his cigarette butt into the water. “Once out of how many times? I’ve bounced it off the trunk into some OK spots more than I’ve cleared it, but I don’t try to hit the thing. I just look like I’m trying to.”

“So how’s that like that bend in the river? I’m still lost.”

“You got grits for brains, boy? Look, you and I drive by here over and over, think it’s a nice place. Right?” He waited a beat, and then continued. “I take it you nodded. We do the same thing, we don’t stop and take the time to check out something we think might be pretty good.” He stopped for another beat. “Say something, don’t just nod.”

“Go on, Crabpot.”

“We don’t even know what it’s like a few feet away from here. Never take the time. And I suppose you keep hitting at that tree, too. Just like me.”

“I’ve thought about other ways to play it. But I’m not sure I could hit that spot to the right of the tree where I’d have a good approach to the green. And if I did I’d probably roll downhill and into the rough.”

“I think the same thing. So you and I both keep doing something that we know doesn’t work because we aren’t sure something else will work. We never take the time to try. After all, it might be a waste of time, right?”

“Maybe. You know, I’m not even sure how far it is to that tree from where I’ve usually hit my drive. I just know I can sometimes clear it with a great shot.”

“Sounds like me. Pretty stupid, huh?” He jumped off the boulder and started untying his shoes. “I’m gonna wade around that bend. You want to come, or are you gonna keep hitting that tree?”

“How long do you think it’ll take to get around that bend, Crabman?”

“I have no idea. But I’m going to find out.”

I watched as he waded into the river. When he stopped and looked back I was taking off my shoes.

(Photo by Charles Prokop)

This entry was posted in The Sand Crab and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Sand Crab On The Rocks

  1. Brian Kuehn says:

    Nice story. I think I will take my shoes off now and then in the future and go wading too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s