Tangerines, Canoe and Blue Crabs, Too


The Tangerine tree’s upper fruit was out of reach and quite ripe, now.

But we tried to gather what we could with the small ladder in the shed. 

Ladder to Tangerine Heaven

Then our neighbor offered his tall ladder, with a request for a few tangerines in return.

The most shocking thing about the tangerine tree – to this country slicker – are the thorns. 

Tangerine Tree Thorns

Look at them!  As we climbed up the tree, we had to be careful where we placed our hands.  And in my mind’s eye, I imagined the torn skin from a ladder fall, ripped by the jagged thorns.

John went up first.  Then he tried to put the ladder up to the heavens for the very top cluster. Just looking at it made me queasy.

I should probably be holding the ladder

We also tried to rope the upper branches to lower them to our reach, even on the ladder.

When I went up, I re-learned how to hold onto the tree, through the ladder rungs, as I climbed.  Wow, that made it so much more secure. But we finally had to give up and leave the tippy top tangerines to rot.  IF ONLY we had the tree trimmer John has in New Hope.  We could have snipped the last balls of orangery, tart, sunshine — but no matter.  We had plenty!


Our Neighbor has a canoe and we borrowed it to explore the back bay.

In the process of trying things – from fishing to canoeing and art and fruit picking, I am making a check list in my head about the things I like, don’t like, would alter and such.

Sign on our neighbor's dock

View of neighbor's dock from water

A heavy canoe is NOT one of the things I would choose. This one was long, wide and heavy.  Plenty of room for the fishing gear and stuff, and good and stable in the water – but these waters are tricky.Heavyness of the flotilla makes it more difficult to glide over the rock and oysterbeds that arise as the tide lowers.

I also did not like having to drag the canoe through the grasses leading to the water, with the land underneath becoming more and more soft and mucky, while I found myself humming, like an old southern woman, to alert any crawling thing to skedaddle in the opposite direction, immediately.

Nevertheless, we got underway just after the height of high tide, when the waters start to turn, pulled back out to the gulf.

Oyster beds emerging - like shell waterlillies

It was fine when we began, the waters deep enought to paddle. But it changed, pretty quickly, and not knowing these waters, we had to watch carefully for the oysterbeds that can gouge the canoe bottom, chip the paddles, cut off access between two islands – because you can’t see them until you are just upon them.

John - with a patch of oysters inbetween the two islands

“Whooop, Whoop, Oysterbeds! Back Up! Reverse!” I yelled a couple times in our meandering around the bay.

Early on, we saw a lot of fish activity in certain areas.  They rise, just below the surface, and move along either towards or away, creating small, undulating circles on the water.  At first I thought I was seeing things, but then John saw them too.

Mouth to the Gulf

Learning how to read the waters is my goal.  Knowing what makes the just-beneath-the-surface-oysterbed-ripples from the tide-moving-in-the-channel-current-ripples is kind of important when you are out wandering unknown territory.

After doing a loop around one group of islands – taking a look at, but ignoring, the opening gap to the gulf, we meandered along the shoreline, east of our neighborhood.

Passing by boats – old and older.

boat for sale! DIY

I wanted to show John the property on the point, that had a built in bulkhead – wharf like structure for protecting the land, and connecting to a dock.  but is also had a  non-grassy, “beach” area, that was not mucky and allowed  one to pop into a canoe or kayak from land, without dragging it through the grasses.  That is a firm yes on my Want List.

Easy access beach

We saw another  property with just that that kind of access to the water, all the way around it’s point, which is so much more appealing than having to walk out on a long dock.  But I guess a low access point also creates easy access for water to overflow the land in a storm. Everything’s a tradeoff.

We made a few casts in the water but the only thing jumping was a mullet – teasing us again and again as he made his way from dock to dock.

John Fishing Back Bay


After canoeing, Daisy of course demanded her time – beach time – so we took her over and threw the ball until she was out of breath – for the second time – and drove home – only to see a man put out a BLUE CRAB sign. So we wheeled around and talked to Johnny – but he had just sold his to Ricky – at the other side of the school. So we wheeled around again and came home with 12 blue crabs for $10, along with instruction for cooking.  Boil water with desired spices, pop in the crabs, bring back to a rolling boil = done!

Dozen for $10

Grabbing Crabs


OK – it was a scene from Annie Hall, only with Crab instead of lobster and John got nipped!


He then put on some gloves.

(I’ve become obsessed with using gloves for everything – this land will really wear your hands out and mine are already old looking)

Hell No, I won't go!

And the screams of “help me! h-e-l-p me!” could not be ignored as the crab hung on, claw  clasped on the pot handle. (a most interesting picture)

I’ve never been a fan of crab because it’s a lotta work. 

My first introduction was at age 13 or 15, with my girlfriend,  in Baltimore, at a fancy crab party of our friend’s neighbor. She and I used to babysit for these folks when they lived in Glen Rock. So here we were, at a very grown up, society Baltimore party with big round tables covered in newspaper and bushels of freshly cooked crab.  It was quite a show and production as the help dumped the crabs into the center of the table and everyone began grabbing and whacking and cracking.  I watched how people opened them and my friend and I ate a few, when she became very jittery, jumping up from the table. I followed her as she got more and more agitated. Finally she asked me to get Ronnie, our host – who got a Dr. at the party – who sent her to the emergency ward – who diagnosed her with a shell fish allergy. In future years, I have seen her spit out a salad at a restaurant when she suddenly realized there was shrimp in it.  To bad for her. Shellfish is delicious to me. But crab is still a lot of work. I really appreciate the people who pick them and package them up for us to enjoy. Although, there is nothing quite like a fresh crab claw!


Let's give it a go!

So we sat down and feasted – this house still needs pickers – on the list for the next shopping trip – and somehow we got through 8 or 9 crabs.  The rest I prepped for a little crab salad lunch.

This lemon was the size of a big orange!

So that’s the latest news. Hope your week’s been good!

xo Laura


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark McCullough on February 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Look at them…..gluttons.


  2. Posted by Patti McHugh on February 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I’ve been reading blogs Laura, nice trip. I agree crabs are too much work!


    • Thanks for commenting, Patti. But I have to say the next day, it was easy to strip them out and made delicious crab cakes. But at the table, a lot of work, Sammy! LAURA Laura Matson Hahn New Hope, PAwww.conversationfarm.co



  3. Posted by Harald Poth on February 21, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Wow–these crabs look a lot bigger than I had imagined. Last time I had them was at a place that spread newspapers on a picnic table and gave out a hammer to break them up. It was a lot of work, but it was fun with beer and sunshine.


    • Maybe they looked bigger in the picture – because they were about the size of my palm – the body part. Yes, a lot of work but fun – and the next day’s crab cakes made from three left over ones were terrific. Next time I’m cooking them out over the grill, in the cast iron pot! with newspapers on the table. xoxo LAURA Laura Matson Hahn New Hope, PAwww.conversationfarm.co



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