Sunday, April 14, 2013

clamming (part 2)

We had a foot of snow on the ground when we left, then came home to brown grass and the earliest of spring hopefuls.  Daffodils and garlic were the first to shoot up their neon hands, the teacher's pets.  The acid, rainbow-brain of rhubarb bubbles up from its dark soil bath.  Flocks of juncos litter our drive like confetti.  Robins happily pick worms from our yard and bluebirds try on our pines for size.  Yesterday we picnicked in the park with friends.  Tonight, as I write, it is snowing and blowing so hard the wind can't decide on a direction.  Welcome, springtime in Wyoming.

:: But I'm here to show you last week.  A time-zone and two states away from here.
This was our fifth time razor clamming and our third with Juniper (click for the first and second).  Most spectacularly, this was June bug's first time participating (Hazel taking her turn in the backpack).  
I grew up combing the coasts of Oregon, plucking the empty, open, butterflied shells of razor clams off the beach.  I never had any familiarity with the creatures that lived inside those shells.  I am so happy that my kids will, and do.     

:: This was our first spring-time dig and by far the best weather we've seen on the Washington coast.  
Clam "shows" ^ about as obvious as they get. 

The State of Washington has a 15 clam bag limit per day.  By regulation, you must keep any clam you dig.  So when clam shows are bubbling up all around your feet, you get both giddy and picky.  Each of us has our own theory on how to spot a big clam.  Most of us are wrong, except my brother's wife.  Some say it's the biggest volcano, some say it's no volcano at all, some say it's the clams that stick their black-ringed neck out, some say look for the clams shooting water high into the air, some say look for a little divot with some shifting sand, some say go for the loners, some say the closest to the water, some say it's a crap-shoot.  Anyway.  June bugs would get she would say... essited! at each clam hole she found yelling, "Another one!  Another one!  Here's a clam!  Quick let's dig it!"
Juniper pointing out some clam shows (and drawing "H" for Hazel, her favorite letter to write).  

And then, "I wanna take it home and EAT IT!"  Or, "Awww.  Look at this cute little clam.  I wanna kiss it and hug it."  That's our girl, the hunter-gatherer, having a love-eat relationship with the food we grow/gather/hunt/catch.  
Juniper kissed a lot of clams that first morning.  

First morning:
J finding a sand dollar.  She ended the day with a pocketful: gifts as well as her own finds.  

What you look like when the clamming is hopping:
A skosh nutty, in other words.  

Washington limits their clam digs to once or twice a month.  This means that clams tend to be big and plentiful, and digging is this crazy, mass conference of clammers.  It isn't evident in my photos, but the beach is literally lined with people and their vehicles, parked well away from the tide-line.  My mom says it's like Disneyland.  You wouldn't think there would be enough clams, but there are, and then some.  

:: Second morning:
Hazel Iris ^ first time walking on the beach.  

:: Third morning:
What you look like when clamming is not hopping...

The third morning was slower-going than the first two days, but we did fill our limit.  The post-dig beach always reminds me of a battlefield.  
Up next: Grandma's house!  (And then, phew, we're back to regular programming.)


  1. That looks like stacks of fun, for kids and adults. How do you cook the clams, I presume you don't bring any home but eat them the day you catch them, or can you freeze them?

    1. Yes! We freeze in vacuum sealed bags. Nothing is ever as good as fresh, but it works quite well. We shuck the shells (they practically fall off after a very brief dose of boiling water), gut the clams, clean out all the sand, then vacuum pack and freeze. I tend to make clam and corn chowder, my husband does a light breading and pan-fries, served with hot sauce; and my brother makes these to-die-for clam cakes. It's nice to have some salt water representation in our deep freeze : )

  2. Awesome. We were in the area at the same time . . . only I was a bit farther north, in the Puget Sound. We did a little digging for clams too, though just for fun, as the beach was closed for harvesting. My oldest guy did pry one open though, out of sheer curiosity to see what the inside of a bivalve looks like, the poor thing. And! best of all, we were able to see a whale spouting amazingly close up, maybe 100 feet off-shore. Very exciting.

    Wasn't the spring weather just delectable?? I came back to a three-day blizzard. Amazing. Though I am very thankful for the moisture (we need it).

    1. A whale! That *is* exciting. We saw one off the Oregon coast last summer, but it was still too far for Juniper to notice.

  3. And . . . what a great place for your girls to experience. WY and OR: two be-a-utiful landscapes to feel connected to.

  4. I love that this post is all about being on the beach and you guys are bundled up to the max. Go figure, when you live in the PNW, we consider this good beach weather.

    Looks like you guys had a great time. I usually think your girls are VERY similar looking, but that picture of Hazel in the backpack doesn't look as twin-ish as they typically do.

    We're headed to Chico this summer and I'm totally drawing a map for Mags. Great idea!

  5. ah this looks like so much fun!


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