My love and I dug clams today. Where else in the world can you walk outside, into low tide, with a bathroom plunger and rubber boots, and come back with supper? Not many places. My sister would say “We pick kiwis off the vine outside the kitchen window”, but she lives in New Zealand and they probably don’t even know what a plunger is in that country. Why? Because it’s so fucking beautiful there that nobody poops, that’s why! We poop here, in glorious Nova Scotia, and we aren’t afraid of bathroom plungers. Kiwis. Sheesh. You can’t live off those.
Clams, now. You can totally live off clams.
And, just to soothe the squeamish, the plungers were new, from the Dolla’ Sto’, never used until they met their destiny in the mucky, silty, salty bottom of a local tide pool.
Clams. Lightly breaded in cracker crumbs, fried, dipped in homemade tartar sauce (heavy on the horseradish), alive twenty minutes before they met my belly. I am a carnivore. I do not apologize.
Technique is all. You squelch through the sucking mud… I’m not kidding, it’s like walking through molasses and honey and quicksand and that stuff they put inside Stretch Armstrong, all blended together with dead crustaceous remains and seaweed. Remember Stretch? He would be strong enough to lift his feet out of South Shore tidal mud flats, but I am not.
The mud clings, and sucks, and beckons your too-big rubber boots that you borrowed from your lover, until they are ankle deep, and there is no way they are coming unglued from that shit. I lost my boot twice. My love retrieved it for me, with the imperative: “Dig more clams, woman!”
You find a clam hole. I know, it makes me laugh too. Clam hole. Haha. Sometimes I think I could write South Shore Erotica. “He found the clam hole, and plunged ‘er good. He was rewarded with a succulent, salty treat.”
A clam hole… for those of you who enjoy your clams in a more civilized venue; already plunged and shucked and breaded and fried, like they were born that way… is a tiny hole in the sand under about six inches of salty, rippling water. You place your plunger over the hole and give ‘er. I mean, thrust that sucker like Grampa Joe just left the loo and there’ll be no flushing til next Easter if you don’t take care of the problem, pronto!
The sand flushes out of the hole, creating a cloudy darkness that drifts in the water, over your boots as they slowly sink deeper into the mire. Stick your hand in that hole, dear. Don’t mind that the water is cold as a witch’s tit. Dig your fingers into the clammy deep and probe about until you are rewarded with gold. A clam feels kinda like a stone, but gentler, and you must’nt… at all costs… poke your fingers through the shell in your enthusiasm. No matter how deep your boots are sinking, no matter that the tide is coming in and you know your boots are never coming unglued, and the squelschy mud is just too gross to imagine walking through it barefoot… gently, gently probe your fingers around that delicate sphere, until you feel the suction pull of freedom and your hand emerges from the frigid deeps with… dinner!
It helps, to fully enjoy the authentic clam digging experience, if your weiner dog is in a wild frenzy of yapping, running, careening, suicidal “Beach Chicken” killing raptures. Seagulls, to The Weens, are chickens. Anything with feathers is a chicken, and deserving of a violent death. By the time the clam bucket was full, Jeepy Jeep, the Wonder Weiner, was coated head to toe in mud, panting, with eyes bugging out, telling me, in his German accent: “Zose damnt chickens! Zey sink zey is zo schmart! Zey fly! I vill not give up! I vill kill zem all!”
My love and I dug clams. With a plunger and a weiner. Only in Nova Scotia.