day 310 – Clam Digging Part two

Now, defenseless without my sneakers,  I clamp my toes (it is more intuitive barefoot anyway) around what I believe to be a huge mollusk.  I reach down with both my hands into the salty liquid and I bend my right knee, raise my foot towards the surface, releasing my toe grip on an enormous clam as I place it securely, deftly into my left hand and lift up a beauty of a clam.  I shake it up and down, I spring out of the water about a foot high and exclaim loudly, “Mira, Pa, mira que grande!” (Look, Dad, look how big it is!)  It seems humongous in my childish grip.

My dad looks over from around fifteen feet away to my right, in much deeper water, further out from the rocky shore and calls back, “Oh, ese lo vamos a usar en una linda sopa.” (Oh, that one we will use in a nice soup.)

“Yes,” I ponder proudly, “it will make a good addition to a scrumptious fresh clam chowder!”  I know my mom will add homegrown veggies from our summer garden to the meal and I start to salivate just imagining it.   I find and retrieve yet another clam without letting it drop back into the sea and escaping my hold on it.

I enjoy the entire event – the ever diving down, reaching and clutching with my toes, the dance of lifting and grabbing the mollusks from my foot, to hand, to basket, and the time spent with my dad.   The satisfaction of spending quality time with my father (in a natural setting to boot) infuses my soul.  I also rather enjoy the feasting afterwards and with a comfortable, slow smile on my face follow the thought of how much I take after him and how much we belong to each other. There is no way I was adopted, though sometimes you wonder when you are young, because I instantly know in that moment, we are too alike and are having way too much fun hunting and gathering and being productive.

My dad takes pride in my clam-digging skills.  I fashion myself as a worthy ten-year-old sidekick.  My only drawback,  is  I want to keep everything and I question, haggle and repeatedly ask, -“Is this clam too miniature or illegal?” and  ” Are you sure I have to put it back?”  Clamming for a few summers now,  I feel confident in my dexterity, skills and ability.  I toss the mollusks left and right into the makeshift tire-tube basket that floats and dances between us under the scorching sun.

Every clam has a destination after the harvest.  A super large Little Neck clam resembles and weighs as much as a hefty rock! Chopped up gigantic four to five inch “Little” neck clams are relegated to my mom’s tasty and well-seasoned version of  clam chowder.  She bakes the medium -sized clams right in their own deep purple and pearl Quahog shells with homemade Italian breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and butter. The bivalves are served in their own homes, a spot of pure genius and ingenuity.  These savory sea morsels are best right out of the oven and devoured while still blazing hot.   The Iroquois Indians of Long Island valued the beautiful violet interiors as currency.  The darker and larger the purple stain, the pricier the clam shell was worth.

Tune in tomorrow for the final description of clam digging and eating.

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