Gut Rumbles

July 07, 2004


I never knew until today that my 93 year-old grandmother had never seen a crab in her life. When she told me that, I was stunned, but then I thought about it. She lived most of her life in the hills of eastern Kentucky, where crabs aren't found very often. When she moved to Savannah, she was old and frail and didn't stomp up and down salt-water creeks fishing with a chicken-neck on a string.

I had already cooked the crabs by then, but I brought her two, one male and one female, to examine. She was fascinated. "Are they red in the water?" she asked.

"No, Mommie, they turn red when you boil or steam them. In the water, they have white bottoms, green tops and a band of blue along the shell and pinchers."

"How do you know one is a male and one is a female?" I showed her the bottoms of the crabs. A male blue crab has something that resembles the outline of an erect penis embedded in the under-shell. A female has a wide, semi-circular outline with a small point at the top.

"That's how you can tell," I said.

"Well, I''l be," replied Mommie. "Did you know that you can tell the same thing from a turtle's belly?" I had to admit that I didn't know that, but I do now.

The next time I find a turtle, I'm going to flip it upside-down and check its sex.

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