by Jeanette Levellie         
© Ron Levellie

Our first spring in Paris, Illinois found us settled into country living fairly well. Or so I imagined. A lifetime in Los Angeles cannot prepare you for the crazy things that happen in a rural setting.

This particular morning I was up early. The pre-dawn sky was grey at best. I hadn’t had my caffeine yet, so was still groggy when I opened the back door to let the “fur children” in. But, what I saw crawling across the lawn woke me up fast, and I found myself charging down the hall to our bedroom, adrenaline taking over.

“Kev, get up, now! There is a huge insect out back; I’ve never seen one this big before, even bigger than those horrible potato bugs we had in California! It’s awful, it has claws, and it’s waving them in the air. Hurry, it’s going to get the kitties,” I cried, on the edge of hysterics.

Here is my husband, who does not do well being awakened from a deep sleep at any time, but this is 5:30 in the morning, for goodness’ sake. A frantic redhead is jumping about the bedroom, wringing her hands and saying something about a killer insect. He creaks up and slowly reaches for his glasses.

“Get your pants on, please! Go out and squish that horrible thing before it attacks my kitties!” I rush to the back door, like Kevin needs a tour guide. In my wide screen imagination, I can see my babies sprawled on the lawn, stiff from the poisonous bite of this science-fiction-like creature.

Finally, Kev stumbles down the hall and out the back door, peering onto the lawn to view this potential murderer of my cats. He waits an eternal minute to let his eyes adjust to the dim light, then starts chuckling.    
“Jeanette, do you know what this is?”

“No, but can’t you just kill it?” I whimper.

“Honey, this is a crawdad! It must have crawled up from the creek when it rained last night. It’s perfectly harmless. It will find its way back home eventually, and it’s more afraid of your cats than they are of it! Let’s go in and get some coffee!”  He is so kind, but he cannot help shaking his head at my city-bred naivety. I suppose I did panic a little, but never having seen a crawdad “in person” before, it sure looked like an enormous killer insect to me!

Kev still teases me about the morning he rescued out cats from the dreaded Crawzilla. After living here eleven years, people who know the story continue to rib me about it. And I laugh at myself along with them.

I wonder that we snicker about our mistakes in misjudging crawdads, but think it’s okay to judge people by their appearance, their occupation, or their name? I once heard a speaker say, “You know you are free of prejudice when you treat someone who can do you absolutely no good as well as you treat someone who has the ability to help you tremendously.”   

You are still not going to catch me dancing with any crawdads in the early morning hours, but “Crawzilla” taught me that you can’t judge a creature, or a person, by their cover.

A spunky, sometimes reluctant pastor’s wife of thirty-six years, Jeanette has published articles, greeting card verses, stories and calendar poems.  She authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column in her local newspaper, and enjoys speaking to church and civic groups, offering hope and humor in every message. She is the mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress to several cats. Find her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at http://jeanettelevellie.blogspot.com


  1. This is great, Jeanette! Such a good reminder about how we look at others. Thank you for that.

    Sounds like Mr. Levellie is like Mr. Schrock - he can't pay to be bored. Hee hee hee.

    That's what living with a redhead will do.

  2. oh, such a good reminder, Jeanette! Thanks!

  3. Rhonda: You or your boys must have some red in your hair, eh?

    Melanie: Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Eeeek. I probably would have thought the same thing! I'm not very familiar with crawdads.

  5. Country living is such an adventure. One 4th of July we had a rattlesnake decide to join our backyard festivities (of course we had missionary friends in for the weekend). I heard an odd noise and went to investigate. Upon seeing the monster coiled, hissing, and rattling for all it was worth, I performed what my entire family (and our missionary friends) now refer to as "the snake dance." At least we can provide entertainment in our less than dignified moments.

  6. Funny story, good lesson! Love the way you captured the scene!

  7. Jeanette:
    My hubby grew up on a farm. I grew up mostly in a town. He gets a large charge whenever I mess up as I talk about rural things.
    And he doesn't let me forget the times I do.

  8. I've never heard of a crawdad before. INteresting and love you yelling at your husband to get his pants on and go kill it. Funny! :O)

  9. Stephanie: You mean they don't have crawdads in Nashville? Some people refer to them as crayfish.

    Niki: Oh, I'd be dancing with you, as well as screaming!!

    Karen: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

    Cecelia: Husbands are good for pointing out our ditzy moments, aren't they?

    Diane: I'm surprised you don't have them crawling around your property, annoying the chickens! They live in the water, and raccoons eat them.

  10. I can imagine your horror! We have a pond in our front yard and the hawks regularly make a meal of the crawdads. Can't imagine one creeping up the lawn! Thanks for the reminder that we can't judge a creature or a person by their cover. God bless!

  11. Living on the prairies makes it very unlikely that I will have a crawdad in my yard but once I had a slug that hitch hiked via my hiking backpack and ended up in my clothes closet. I called my neighbor to come over and take it away!

    So important not to judge those that happen to be different from what we have ever seen before. Great illustration.

  12. I absolutely love that speaker's quote - that's truly something to strive for. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Maria: A pond in your front yard? I'll be right over.

    Lynn: Oh, yuckkk and triple yuckkkk! I'd call 911 and the National Guard if a slug was in my closet. But it would give me a great excuse for buying a new wardrobe and shoes!!!

    Susan: Yes, I've thought of it many times, and it's kept me from judging harshly.

  14. That's hilarious! I can't believe you'd never seen a crawdad. LOL

  15. Hi Jen -

    LOL! I would have been jumping around with you.

    I worked for a Louisiana native years ago. The first time his mama sent a package of live crayfish, I almost fainted.

    Susan :)

  16. That's too funny. It's well-documented that I do not tolerate creatures with more or less legs than I have. And I'm leery of those with the same number!

  17. Great lesson! Not so great crawdad.

    If that'd been a spider--of any shape or size--I'd have been in your shoes.


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