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On the banks of the Navarro River

Navarro State Park
Mendocino County
July 7, 2004

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Wading in the shallows, I spotted the remains of a not-long-dead crawfish, the tail of a tiny lobster-looking thing that had lost its claws to some predator. "Look!" I pointed the girls to it. "A dead crawdad."

"Are you sure it's dead?" asked Ellie.

"Pretty sure ... " I said, creeping closer. "It's not moving." I reached into the water, towards the lifeless tail, and then, on an evil boyish whim, thrust my arm forward, as if it were being yanked by the powerful jaws of a hungry sea monster, and began to wail and thrash in the muddy river.

Then there were high-pitched screams, skinny little legs splashing towards the pebbly beach, and the hearty chuckles of a dad on vacation.