Monday, May 12, 2014

The Parable of the Quahog and the Horseshoe Crab

(This is a true story--turns out other critters can be as dangerously rigid as humans.)

Not so long ago, I spent an afternoon tossing a bucktail into a channel behind West Wildwood.  The sky was steely, a mist was falling, the clouds and the sea merged as one.

While working the beach I stumbled across a couple of the holes we left clamming the day before. A few feet from one of the holes I saw a grand-daddy of a quahog--a huge chowder clam just sitting on the flat exposed by the low tide.

A quahog that big may well rival me in years on this Earth. It didn't get that large by acting stupid, and there's hardly enough nervous tissue for clams to get senile. Still, there it was.

I went to pick it up. It resisted.
I went to pick it up again.
It resisted again, as if glued to the beach.

I tugged yet a third time, and the sands shifted--the clam was stuck to the base of an old horseshoe crab, now buried in the sand. Her now kicking legs pushed the sand next to the clam.

A large horseshoe crab may well be 20 to 30 years old.

Here they were, an old horseshoe crab tethered to an even older quahog, waiting for the tide to rise. The quahog, guided by millions of years of instinct, clams up tight at low tide. With the edge of the horseshoe crab wedged along it edge, though, it faced dessication.

I tried to remove the clam again, but dared not pull any harder than I did. I left the two critters there to square their issue with the next full tide.

Some things cannot be anticipated, and some things cannot be fixed.

A generation of children have now completed their public school careers under NCLB.
It's still a bad law, we still have it, and still we clamp done harder in our obliviousness.

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