Too busy to clam, to write, to stargaze, to play my guitar, to get drunk, to chase ghost crabs on midnight beaches, to watch the monarch butterfly migration, to catch sea bass, to carve wood, to watch the ferry come and go, to brew peach melomel, to be human.
Last night Leslie and I stargazed on the edge of the Delaware Bay, chased ghost crabs under the starlight, and today we raked up some clams from Richardson Sound. I will play my guitar tonight for her after an ale (or two), and tomorrow I hope to sit on the jetty and watch the butterflies flutter by. Next week I'm brewing peach melomel, come hell or high water, and I am "wasting" my time writing now.
My hands smell like low tide at the moment--I played, today, and rejoined the universe. Women and cilantro and bay mud all smell like life, and that's no accident. I forget sometimes. If I ever forget permanently, I may as well be dead.
Clamming is serious business--it costs lives. Not just the lives of the clams and, occasionally humans. I rake up bloodworms, tiny blue claws, whelks, and all kinds of critters I cannot see.
Clamming is serious business--it feeds lives, As I stir up the muck, shrimp and kellies and whelks congregate around me, nibbling on the manna, and occasionally nibbling on me (apparently psoriasis is tasty).
Right now 15 clams sit in the fridge--I raked up a few more than that, but Leslie and I decided that 15 was enough, so I put a few back. I scooped up a few small holes in the sound, and placed the clams in my artificial beds. No doubt I killed a few thousand critters to save the few extra clams I dug up. Still, there's something to be said for knowing when enough is enough. (15 clams for two people may be too much.)
I teach, or try to, anyway. I teach about excited electrons, Latinized naming systems, and entropy. It's all very exciting for me, but out of context, I'd bet it's stultifying. If you're 15 years old in our culture, a culture predicated on lies and salesmanship, what I teach is out of context.
A couple of hours ago I was sitting in a kayak, surrounded by water and herons and sea weed and egrets and cormorants and, of course, clams. Context.
If you kill but do not consciously slaughter, you are missing something. It is very hard to live without killing, unless you are a green plant. If you are not a green plant, you have an odd sort of agreement with the universe.
I love Walt Kelly's work, and had I known him personally, I'd have loved him, too.
This is the 2nd time the pogo strip used the phrase "Don't take life too serious...it ain't nohow permanent." Walt was alive the first time. He's still alive in my head.
We pretend we're as immortal as the corporations influencing our curriculum, but, of course, we are not. IBM will exist long after my children celebrate my life at a good ol' fashioned Oirish wake.
If I teach nothing else this year, I hope I teach this much.
You are alive, part of a mystery that you cannot comprehend. You will die, also a part of a mystery you cannot comprehend. Enjoy the ride.
(Alas, it's not in the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Science Standards. I'm teaching it anyway.)
Addendum: turns out 15 clams was just right.