Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yabbies for Breakfast Anyone?

So, imagine this. It's about 6:30 am. I am about a block from home, heading back after my early morning walk. It's already starting to heat up here in Queensland. If I don't go by 5:30 or 6:00 at the latest, it becomes too uncomfortable. The combination of the humidity and the seering sunshine just hurts this Canadian gal's skin way too much.

I notice about halfway up the block a young boy emerging from the drive of his house. He is shirtless, barefoot, about 9, maybe 10 years old. I watch as he makes his way across the street to the corner where his mate or brother (not sure which) is standing waist deep in the storm drain on the road. He has lifted the heavy cast iron grate off and it is leaning against the curb. I cannot hear their conversation yet, but as I get closer, I can see that the kid in the sewer drain is about the same age, also shirtless and he is using a small net with a short handle and he is scooping guck and slime and gross sludge about 2 cups at a time and emptying it on the concrete next to the hole.

The two of them then sift through this disgusting sludge with their bare hands and are pulling the odd "treasure" out of the glup. My first thought is, "isn't this a bit dangerous.? What could they possibly be looking for and where is their mother?" Initially, I figured I would just keep walking past them, leaving them to their search, but my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped and asked them if they had  lost something.

They looked up at me and the one in the hole says, "I lost two dollars in here the other day." Now that I am standing right over them, I see there is a secondary prize being found. He has collected at least 4-5 small creatures that look a bit like a small crab. "Eeewww, what are those?", I ask. "Yabbies," says the kid in the hole like I must be a complete idiot for not knowing. I ask him what they do with them. "Do you use them for fishing bait?" The kid on the street says, "yeah, you can use them for fishing." "Aaahh,  I see", I say trying not to be grossed out by their grubby, slime covered fingers as they grasp the wriggly crustaceans up for me to examine. I see they have not found their gold coin however and as I am about to leave them to their hunt, the kid in the hole, looking as feral as a character from Les Miserables shouts after me, "I'll eat one if you dare me!"

I gotta tell ya, the mere fact that this kid was willing to pop one of those filth covered yabbies in his mouth was as horrific to me as it would have been if he actually did it. I assured him I did not need to see him eat a yabby from the storm drain and he seemed disappointed that I didn't egg him on. He shouted out, "have a nice day" as politely as would be expected from an urchin standing in a pool of black goo at 6:30 am., and as I turned the corner toward my street, I looked back and saw they had continued their mission, unphased by the likes of me. Part of me wanted to give them each a 2 dollar coin just to get them out of the hole, but I reckon that would have ruined the fun.

Just another day here in my hood. In Maryborough. In Queensland. In Australia.

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