:: We spread our holiday out like warm butter on homemade bread. First, we had an unofficial Christmas back east with the family I married into: sledding, toasting homemade wine and the glory of far-flung family bunching back together.
:: Our second Christmas was on the day itself, but you already know about that.
:: And, whew, lastly was our annual clamming extravaganza where we celebrate Festivus ("for the rest-of-us"; remember Sienfeld?) with my side of the family on the Pacific coast.
I was about to write that I was spoiled by having so much family to help with Juniper (especially her older cousin Aspen who was a non-stop joy for J bug--I have never seen Juniper have so much fun), but I think it was more like I got a taste of what childrearing was like before we decided to move out on our own and be nuclear. I was never harried, never stressed, never over-taxed, never hungry, never thirsty and even occasionally found myself standing around in a daze, not really sure where I was needed because my toddler was fully engrossed in a game of chase with her cousin, or reading with her grandpa, or gazing at Christmas lights with her grandmas.
^J bug's cousin Aspen showing her how to use her new balance bike.^
:: My husband and I have a tendency to incorporate the hunting and gathering of local foods into our vacation plans and Christmas is no exception. My family rocks, but we're also there to dig razor clams.
^J bugs: watching and laughing from her perch on her papa's back.^
^Although it's true that all good clam digs start with a good brew, my mom is not tipsy in the above photo. In fact, she was a total trooper to be out there at all as she is scheduled for a knee replacement!^
So mostly we cruise the beach looking for "clam shows" which can be anything from a clam neck sticking out of the sand and worming around, to a doughnut-like volcano, to a tiny dry hole in the sand, to a delicate shifting of the sand in a little indentation--depending on the conditions. They can be really easy to spot, or almost impossible--depending on the conditions.
But when you find one, you twist, plunge and push your gun overtop the show, put your thumb over the airhole on the handle, pull the gun out, and release your booty on the beach.
^Above, right: my dad pointing, exclaiming, "There he is! There he is!"
Typically, the clams themselves are swooped up and dropped in a mesh clam bag. It is fast-action, like they are going to runaway or something--but I managed to get one photo just as the hand (and the dog) were moving in:
Razor clamming is super fun. It's like an Easter egg hunt for the pros. And, they're super tasty. Since my man and I don't buy any meat, eating mainly what we catch and kill, razor clams are our sole saltwater representation in the deep freeze.
After this bucolic scene of coastal beauty comes a couple of hours back at the homestead of cracking and gutting (the men's job), cleaning and rinsing sand off (the women's job--often resulting in comments like, This one must be male... 'cause he's full of shit!) and bagging clams. A job best done under the influence of champagne, dark chocolate and Milwaukee's Beast.
:: Once the clamming days were over, we went for mid-day walks and let Juniper have her way with the beach.
^That's J bug's super-excited face.^
:: Geesh. I'm so ready to be home again. All these big, travel events are eclipsing the tiny miracles that happen everyday. I want to write about the little things again. Like how Juniper, at some point between Washington D.C. and the Pacific coast, made the switch from pulling everything out of a drawer, to putting everything into a drawer. Tiny, silent changes that turn a baby into a person.