Lifestyle

TOP O' THE MORN: Our memories are as happy as clams

It was about 1929 when we lived with our parents, a brother and two sisters in an old house at the corner of Midway Boulevard and Barrington Drive, just south of Smith Park and not much of a walk to the beach. When the tide was out, we found clams deep beneath the shining mud. Old Duke, Dad’s hunting dog, would prowl the mudflats carefully, when a fountain of water squirted him in the face, Duke would pounce and dig at the spot. We never knew what Duke would have done had he captured a clam.

Clam digging became a favorite family sport. The family loved to dig and eat them, but, through the years — like SCUBA diving and water-skiing — we found ways not to dig or eat clams. We just went along for the fun of it, and helped carry the pails of clams back to the car.

A special place to dig clams was out on Maylor’s Point. Across slippery, seaweed-covered rocks to the tideflats, the family scrambled. We were the only one not carrying a bucket or clam gun — we carried a camera. Thus, we have the best collection of clam-digging snapshots in the area. We left the diggers and pickers and kids fighting over sea urchins and wound our way to the upper beach. Here was a treasure trove unnoticed by most: driftwood, bright shells, crab molts and white clusters of barnacles. We filled our pockets, gathered an armload of driftwood, then relaxed on a log. Above me, on the bank, a pair of blackbirds, fearing for their nearby nest, whistled worriedly.

On the trek home, we planned to paint the driftwood and make plaques of the shells. The family planned to cook the steamers, grind the butter clams and experiment with new recipes for chowder and fritters.

In justifying our lack of entusiasm for clams, we recall that for every cluster of clamdiggers there is a butterfly to be found abve the beach. For every bucket of clams, there must be an armload of picturesque driftwood.

We ate just as well as the rest of the family. And our clam-digging excursions show a profit: We have pictures, gifts for friends and unusual bits of driftwood for flower arrangements.

One does not live by bread alone … or clams.

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