Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Can Dig It, He Can Dig It, She Can Dig It, They Can Dig It, You Can Dig It...

Oh, let's dig it! Can you dig it, baby?

Well it turns out I can! Who knew? It's only been
approximately 20 years since I've been anywhere near a clam dig, and with good reason I think. First of all, I don't eat them, in fact, I avoid them with a certain level of fervor. And secondly, but perhaps more importantly, I was never a fan of freezing to death on a windy, rainy beach being Dad's designated shovel holder while he digs his limit, and then continues to "dig" mine (since we all know that would be breaking the rules ... but apparently for children if an adult brings the clam up, and the child picks it up from the loose sand that counts as the child's clam ... only Dad would ask the "Fish Hawks" as he calls them for the actual rules). However, I figured it was time to roll up my sleeves and see if there were any skills or tricks hiding up there, or just cobwebs, and I thought this would be the perfect weekend with dad to do it!

It was our last weekend together before they head South for the winter, whilst visiting grand babies en route. As it turned out it was opening weekend of clam season too, he just happened to slip into several phone conversations as the weekend approached. So it was no surprise that upon entering town, I was whisked off to the hardware store for my license. Then off to the homestead for a pre-dig lunch, with enough time to jump into our clamming costumes (which for me included about 100 pounds of clothing consisting of 5 layers of tops alone ... did I mention I hate being cold?).

Can I just take a moment to praise God for afternoon digs?! I never knew such a thing existed! Where were these when I was bounced out of bed before dawn in my childhood to brave the windy beaches as a 50 lb. icicle getting blown down the beach, knocked over, or taking the ever annoying wave over the boot?! Ok, so maybe those experiences were character building (the jury's still out on that one), and it's not like it put me totally off the dig ... just on a 20 year hiatus. Though I have to say I enjoy evening digs much more than morning digs, then again I enjoy Fall more than Spring, and maybe that has a little to do with it too.

I can't lie though, I had an absolute blast this time. That alone was worth the wait, to actually be able to enjoy it (even in pouring rain!). That's not to say that I never had fun going as a kid. I remember going to certain beaches for steamer clams and thinking this digging business was SO easy (direct attention to rule in paragraph 2). I didn't realize there was a lot more involved than just running your hands through soft sand and picking up 6 or 7 clams at a time. I'm sure Dad must've had as much fun hiding them there for me as I did finding them. I was never big enough, or really quick enough for the razor clams, when they hear you coming they scram! But I was reminded of the time Dad was bent over going for one, and he'd look up to keep track of me, and saw me just messing around with a shovel in the dry sand. Pretty soon he looks back up and sees me digging away, but he goes back to his business only to look up once more to see (in his words) "POP! Out comes a clam just as big as can be! HAHAHA!" But this trip was easily the best I've ever had. We were graced with pretty decent weather all three days of digging and even though the first evening out was a complete monsoon we were never cold, and the days only got increasingly better. Until we finally had days like this:

Which, maybe doesn't look like much, but it was lovely. It was warm, and mild, and everything felt soft except for the wet, packed sand, but when everything glowed in a thick layer of diffused sunlight there was something soft about it as well. It was almost a shame we were able to get our limits so quickly, it would've made for a nice evening picnic on the beach had we stayed longer. But I think we were all eager to get back to a cozy home, soak our little friends, and wash the sand out of our ... everything!

The only thing left to do was pull this little guy up ... the last clam of the day ... though I believe I
was in the lead at one point, but who's counting? I usually don't do well with the teacher looking over my shoulder, but I guess that's something I've outgrown.
I learned a lot this weekend, for one, that thing I'm holding is called a clam gun. I've never used one before this (designated shovel holder), and yes it was harder than it looks. I also learned that I'm willing to wear so many layers I look like the Michelin Man in order to avoid being cold, and wet, and honestly looking fluffier than usual didn't bother me, what did was trying to bend my knees in order to sit in the back seat of the truck. I learned more about my dad, I think I do every time, he's still got a few surprises left. I enjoyed the quiet times, and late nights looking through his box of old pictures, and sharing stories, and listening to the ones I didn't know, and looking as he named countless strangers off to me. I learned a few new recipes, and some old ones from a well used cook book that had belonged to his mother. I think I was told about 100 things to do with zucchini, which will come in handy since I have two Godzilla sized zucchinis staring at me in my kitchen. I also learned that relationships are what you choose them to be, ok, maybe I didn't just learn that, but maybe I was reminded. It's funny, oftentimes people think they just sort of happen, like out of the blue. They don't. They take a lot of hard work, and sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and be willing to get dirty, and other times you need to know when to relax. It's knowing when to do each of these things that can be the confusing part sometimes.
Wow, who knew clam digging could be so philosophical?
I feel like I see things differently now, like they are in better focus than they used to be. Sometimes a bit harsh, or jagged, but clearer for sure. If I walked around in fuzziness throughout my life I would miss things like this beautiful weekend ...

... and that's just not going to happen!
Here's to a safe trip for Dad & Patty, I hope they found our time to be a lovely send off.