This weekend our good friends invited us out to Long Island. Another friend joined and it made for a fun group of people to hang out and relax with.
One of the main activities planned for the weekend was a clamming trip. I was excited when I heard the news. As kids we grew up clamming in the bay near our house but only in the summer, in fairly deep water and with our toes. The clamming scheduled for this trip was with rakes (similar to a three-pronged garden tool) and in ankle deep, low tide water.
Overall I found the whole process quiet and relaxing. Much like the bay at home the mud was thick, smelly and rich with oysters, mussels, clams of all kinds, snails, hermit crabs and beautiful red brain-like sea coral. I was able to rake in 1 oyster, 4 regular bleach white clams and 2 razors. While it wasn't a huge bounty by any means it was sitll fun and challenging. The most challenging part was how often my boots got stuck in the mud. Most of the time I had to claw each boot out individually. If I didn't work fast enough before I knew it the first boot I'd clawed out moments before would already be sinking back into the mud. When you are stuck in the mud you are literally...stuck in the mud. Don't panic. Breath and determine your next move rationally without moving two quickly. Twice I lost my balance while trying to rush and set myself free. Both times I nearly fell face forward only catching myself moments before I got a taste of nature's very own mud mask.
And as a side note, guys may like fishing and clamming because of the gear. So do girls but I must confess I was also in it for the boots. Who needs Uggs when you can have $10 white shrimper boots?
I found the rake I used quite helpful although I still liked using my hand despite the water being cold. I used my rake to clear away the layer of floating seaweed, I listened for a 'clink' and if I hit something I would then reach my hand in the smelly, murky mud and hope for the best.
By the time we waded our way back to the car, the sun was setting, a chill was in the air and we could hardly believe we had been out there for a few hours.
When we got home, we made a fire, opened some wine and everyone helped prepare the fresh seafood feast which combined lot made a huge meal.
This weekend made me nostalgic. Memories of my parents, sister and my many cousins clamming in our local bay together in the summers. How we liked to surprise our city house guests by pulling up clams with our toes mid-swim. How my mother was able to convince even the biggest city dwelling skeptic that they too could catch their very own clam. And how the whole lot of us complete with scraped toes, chipped toenail polish and handfuls of clams stuffed in our bathing suits would swim proudly back to shore.
Most of us spend our lives trying to forget where we come from. As I get older I struggle to find the balance between living my life independently of my past while still holding on to some of the better memories. For me many of those memories are often quite simple and lovely. Candles on the backyard picnic table. Fresh clams on the bbq. Good local wine. The sounds of happy houseguests as they try to recall the last time they caught their very own meal.