Saturday, July 9, 2011

A clammer meets the internets

After yesterday's dust off, where I tangentially blame modern technology for the impending collapse of, well, everything, I thought I might need to re-establish some semblance of credentials for the edutech crowd, and perhaps even more important, potential employers.

I had long planned to go clamming this morning. We got people coming over tonight, and nothing beats fresh clams, except maybe fresh tomatoes, and we got those, too.

My trusty paper tide charts (courtesy of Jim's Bait and Tackle), confirmed online,  predicted that the sweetest clam bed south of Newfoundland will lay open mid-morning today.The kayaks are loaded, my clam bucket sits on the back stoop, and my rake is repaired and ready.

Alas, it rained last night. Rain flushes out the street sewers, which hold pretty much anything and everything the ground holds--cigarette butts, squirrel poop, herbicides, human spittle and other fluids, and all kinds of other matter subject to the law of gravity. A cherry stone will filter about 10 or so gallons of baywater a day, and I figure a chowder might do double that.

I have a general policy similar to a few states (though New Jersey, land of the free-to-ingest-whatever, is not one of them)--if it rains a decent amount the day before clamming, best not clam.

A decent amount for me means 1 inch, from the Latin uncia, 1/12th. Why a twelfth? Why a foot? What science is behind my tolerance? Well, very little. I surveyed the internets again, saw that Maryland closes beds for 1" rainfall, Massachussetts uses 1" in the winter, but only 0.6" in the summer (more squirrel poop around, I guess), and NJ, well, last time any bed got closed for rain was a year ago April so maybe we're not paying real close attention.

We got dumped on last night. How much? Well, I could wander outside and peek into a bucket, all of 15 feet away, but then I'd need to find my measuring tape, last used to measure the fluke I cannot keep, which means finding my fishing bag, which I think I left in the car, and, well, it's easier to look at a screen than get up and walk. Besides, it might be muddy outside. Not to mention the squirrel poo....

According to the internets, our local airport, only a couple of miles away, got 1.89 inches of rain last night. (Imagine that, we're measuring to the hundredths of twelths of some ancient foot standard...a freaking fifth of a millimeter for our more enlightened global neighbors....and which just happens to be the length of your run of the mill Paramecium caudatus.)

So no fresh clams tonight....had it rained 90 paramecium lengths (PLs) less, that is, had my bucket outside only held 99 PLs instead of the 189 PLs it would have held had I left it right side up and moved it two miles away to our nearest airport, I'd be clamming at this very moment, risking skin cancer and contamination with squirrel poop.

Here's a picture of a P. caudatus, just in case we go to that as a standard:

The paramecium photo is by Barfooz, released under Gnu FDL


Kate said...

Sometimes, it is best to wait.

Today I will dream of quahogs - and little necks.

Here on the IL side of Lake Michigan, the city of Chicago has a combined sewer system, and for years all beaches were closed after a hard rain. Now with the rainwater containment system that allows the water to be held for 48 hours as it is cleaned (not squirrel poop, but human poop) it is only after a spectacular rain that causes the northern suburbs to open their sewers to the lake that we are kept from the beach. Still, I wouldn't eat anything caught close to the city, though I watch many fisherman stand along the water's edge.

There will be another day for clamming.

Kathryn J said...

Kate - I live on the shores of Lake Ontario in a city that had a similar problem before the rain containment system was dug into the bedrock. I concur with all of your thoughts on fish from those waters. Think of it - by the time that water gets to me, it has passed through many more metropolitan areas.

We would take some of that NJ rain though. We haven't had any in at least two weeks. I still wouldn't touch the fish or swim in the part of the lake where the city's river empties into a basin.

A sad state of affairs actually. Reading a state fishing license is eye-opening.

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

You made me feel better--it was the right decision.

Waiting for reports from the CMK Con!

Dear Kathryn,

Amazing how few folks in Jersey know the advisories on eating fish from our waters. Scary stuff!

After reading your words and Kate's, I need to go back to my joyful ignorance.