Two weeks ago I slipped an aged gentleman at the Villas Fishing Club in Cape May a generous tip. He had poured me a beer, and even more important, he had told me where I might find clams.
A few moments before, my uncle and I had slinked in, stinking of Delaware Bay mud. One of us had mentioned where we were clamming. It was somewhere along the Delaware Bay. 'Nuff said.
Folks at the bar laughed so hard I started looking for a defibrillator.
My guess is most of you have never been in the Villas Fishing Club. You have to be male to be a member. Wives are welcome, too. Even after their husbands die. That more women are belly up to the bar than men reflects two things:
1) Men die earlier than women--not even close.
2) The Villas Fishing Club reflects a dying era.
Still, you can get a decent pilsner for less than the cost of a half gallon of gasoline, and you can walk in covered in the black mud of the bay, and folks will still talk to you.
Once folks stopped laughing (and their hearts restored to normal with an effective defibrillator), Randy the Bartender took pity on us. Randy used to be a clammer.
Go to Garwood Avenue in West Wildwood. Drive to the end. There's an abandoned railroad bridge. Anything south of the bridge is legal
But if you really want clams, go to the Lobster House and buy them.
Two weeks ago, Don't-Call-Me-Uncle Bob and I went to the spot--the tide was high, and we could not make our way around the abandoned railroad bridge.
One week ago, we made our way to the bridge at low tide, but it was 6:30 AM, and it was illegal to walk on the beach until 8:00 AM. (Yes, we can fight it, no we didn't, mortality forces you to pick your battles.)
Today, Leslie and I paddled our way out past the bridge. We saw a couple of gentleman raking the low tide mud.
Plenty!I don't want to steal yours.
There's enough for everybody!I dragged my fingers along the mud of Richardson Sound--a clam. Then another. And yet still another. All in 5 minutes. One was at least 11 years old. You can count the rings. I was 38 years old when the critter settled in the mud. I chucked it back.
Next week Uncle (Don't-Call-Me-Uncle) Bob and I are going out to get us a mess of clams. Then we are going to eat them.
Low tide is around 6:00 PM. It's going to be fairly dark.
Still, we're past the autumnal equinox, both of us.
Life is all about grabbing some energy.
What does this have to do with teaching? Well, this week I am talking about grabbing energy. I lit a candle at the beginning of biology class. Where did the energy come from?
Plants. Millions upon millions of years ago plants capture some energy from the sun. Some refinery just down the road (this is Jersey, after all) cracked some crude and sold some paraffin. And now we released it, as light, as heat.
The clam in the picture spent a few years filtering plankton. Eating. Grabbing energy.
And that's as cool as it gets in class.