My only real dilemma as I headed out to do some clamming this morning was steamed or chowder? I went to World's End in Hingham with my clam bucket in hand and my "secret" spot in mind. Despite finding a good-looking medium-sized quahog moments after stepping onto the beach, to all outward appearances, this was a failed clamming expedition. One clam does not a clam bake make.
After 30 minutes of digging clams to no avail I realized this was hardly a success. If I was trying to make a living as a clam digger I'd be going hungry tonight. Now, I know my secret spot isn't exactly the envy of professional or even recreational clammers. The beach is rocky, the clams are few, and it takes great perseverance to get even a single clam. But I did find enough clams there once last summer to make a nice appetizer so I thought I'd go back to the well. Which was, apparently, dry.
I rediscovered my love of clamming last year after a 30-something year hiatus. My own father taught me how to clam when I was a kid out on Long Island after a weekend trip to the bungalow he'd gone to as a child. You look for water bubbles coming up in shallow water and dig with your feet until you hit something. In the soft sand of the Long Island Sound you can dig with your toes or your hands -- you won't hit rocks so if you stumble on something hard it's likely a clam. And nothing in this world beats eating freshly caught clams from your own hand. Nothing.
These were the thoughts and memories swirling through my head as I dug into the thick mud at World's End coming up empty again and again. Even without clams it was good to be out on the edge of the water, feeling the mud slip through my toes on a beautiful summer morning. Perspective is an important component of life and my morning was as full of perspective as my clam bucket was empty of clams.
I'm not great at just relaxing and enjoying vacation time but this helped. Sure I would have loved coming home with a bucket-full of clams as a trophy. But so much of life is about the experience rather than the end result. And sometimes outward failures are inward successes. After all, Jesus' death led to his ultimate victory. In other words, appearances can be deceiving when we worship a God who treasures our inward lives so much more than our outward ones.
I wasn't sure what to do with my lone clam. I was considering the time-honored tradition of "catch and release" since holding up one clam during my triumphal entry would seem somehow more pathetic than returning empty-handed. And cutting up a small clam into four equal parts would be worse still.
Alas, when I returned to the bucket to clean off my precious clam I realized that while my clamming "prowess" made me feel like a mere shell of a man, this clam was a mere shell of a clam. It was filled with sand! All I can say is I'm glad I didn't bring the boys with me. I'd never hear the end of it.
If you want a clam worth risking a heart attack over:
If you want to feed a small family:
That thing is impressive!
My comment about risking a heart attack is from my days living in Hoquiam and Ocean Shores, Washington. Or, more like what happens during in Ocean Shores during clamming season.
We rarely get snow over an inch or two at the altitude where most people live around here. In many cases, the snow melts during the afternoon. Therefore, people in the Pacific Northwest are infrequently reminded about what happens when a 40-70 male desk jockey tries to lift a load with a shovel.
Add to that how crowded the roads to the beaches get for clamming season. (A lot of people agree with you about fresh clams.)
This means the EMTs of the Ocean Shores Fire Department have the honor of trying to keep middle aged men alive when a normal 30 minute drive from the coast becomes 90 minutes. Even the back roads, which are few in number, clog up--and most tourists don't know about those roads.
(When THE earthquake hits and Ocean Shores has 30 minutes before it is going to be covered with a 30 ft tsunami, it isn't going to be pretty if it is clam season, Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day.)
One year the staff in the Emergency Department at Gray's Harbor Community Hospital kept score on a blackboard where the public couldn't see it: the number of clams taken, the number of human deaths.
A nurse there who had worked in an emergency department in a ghetto was impressed with the number of people (read: middle aged men) the Ocean Shores EMTs kept alive for that drive. Many more lived than died.
Yes, there are that many deaths from clamming that the emergency department staff would start keeping track.
An enterprising priest could set up a shop to hear confessions and to annoint people (men) as part of their last rites before going clamming. The prayers would be free, but the priest would need to charge S&H to "cover costs" with this operation.
Comment #1 - I saw people clamming at Egypt Beach last fall - seemed to work for them.
Comment #2 - I used to clam in the Sakonnet River when I was a kid. But since I don't really have a taste for what I call "Boogers on the half shell", I pretty much just threw them back.
Do you still like me?
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