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.