Saturday, April 25, 2009


I grew up in Miami, Florida.

And yes, it is very much semi-tropical. Actually, if you left the place alone for any length of time it would revert to the swamp it rose from with little or no trace of humanity. When I worked as a surveyor's assistant, we had occasion to travel to parts of south Florida that showed us what would happen.

Scientists have theorized what would happen to the Earth if humans suddenly dropped out of the picture. In the Arctic, things would be preserved for a long time. In temperate zones, the breakdown would be faster. In South Florida, things would be faster still. An accidental experiment has demonstrated that. There are cases where developers would bulldoze some land right down to the ground, (that's what they do, it's cheaper) lay down streets and utilities and then lose their funding or have some sort of financial setback. Nature would take over and in ten years, you couldn't tell anyone had ever walked there.

Nature is very resilient. The buildings will rot and fall down. Shoot, they were rotting and falling down around us while we lived in them. Take a look at the buildings in New Orleans that have been abandoned. They won't have to tear them down, they'll tear themselves down. The ownership of the land would revert to the snakes and land crabs and cockroaches that I grew up with.

Boy, those memories stay with you, too. Yesterday, I saw a dried oak leaf skitter across the road in front of me and I swerved to avoid hitting it because it looked so much like a land crab. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, land crabs are not the good eatin' kind.

No, these are hard shelled, nasty buggers that would bite your toe off given half a chance. Growing up next to a canal as my brother and I did, we fought them constantly growing up. They lived in holes in the ground - yes, crab holes - and they had a natural barometric pressure gauge. When a tropical storm was coming, they would come out and seek higher ground, for example your house. As soon as you opened a door, they would try to run in. What fun! We'd hit them with a stick or a shovel and then fling them into the weeds.

But if you're going to do that, you'd better make it FAR into the weeds, because, my friends, there is nothing on Earth like the smell of a dead land crab. And they look bad, too.

I mean, really! They run sideways, their mouth opens sideways and their body is their head. Give me a break! I'm not pretty, but even I'm better looking than this freakish horror. And the death smell stays with you, good grief, I can smell it now!

So, yeah, it was great growing up in south Florida. No snow. All the species of poisonous snakes in the US, all in one spot. Gators. Humidity in the summer at nearly 200 percent. And land crabs.

But then again, there was no snow, the dry season was very mild, not much pollution, and the puffy white clouds in the piercing blue sky - fabulous! All that other stuff, you got used to. Except the damn crabs.


Dave said...

I haven't smelled the smell of a dead land crab for many, many years. As soon as I read this the smell came back with a vengeance.

Leah Kleylein said...

so give me a it just the smell of something dead, but more so?? More dead-smelling? Or was there some special extra ingredient?

Rich Kleylein said...

Well, this isn't movie death smell, this is Stephen King on drugs death smell. You've seen the shows where the cop comes into the room where some poor bastard's been dead for a week and the cop runs out of the room retching? Pshaw! We could take that and dance a little jig. If someone smells 200 pounds of dead land crab... well, I don't know what would happen!

debbie said...

Guess I should consider myself lucky, never encountered them while living in Miami!!!!!