Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yep, clams again....

Today I dug up a couple dozen quahogs, half of which ended up on the table tonight. I also found a gold ring while raking for the clams. Which is worth more?

Aside from the nominal $10 fee I pay New Jersey, for the privilege of printing out of piece of paper that keeps me from paying more, the clams cost me nothing but a little exercise.


The ring cost someone some dollars. It has initials on it. I found it about 6" deep. I could sell it and get me some dollars for it. Someone was paid money to get it from the ground, someone else was paid money to put the monogram on it. I think maybe I'll just toss it back.

One of the clams had a deep purple patch on the inside, the kind of purple you see just before dusk ends. Purple is the last color we can see of the visual spectrum. Beyond purple, ultraviolet, then X-rays, then gamma rays. Purple is as much EMR excitement as we can safely tolerate.

Gold falls somewhere in the middle.

Would you trade your ability to see purple for a ton of gold? Do you even consider doing the calculations?

My uncle got the first little neck today. First one of the year.

We were trying out a new tide flat today, and I was not sure how we'd do.

I am an experienced clammer, and while I raked up a bunch of steamers, I could not find a little neck. Once my uncle did, though, I found a bunch more. I could not find them until I believed they were there. Once I believed they were there, I could not believe I missed them before that.

A huge part of science is framing the question, framing your observations. Our ability to see things is proportional to our belief that those things exist. We are very good at not seeing things we do not want to believe exist.

My grip on reality is tenuous, but I suspect it is no more tenuous than most of us.

A few hours ago a little neck siphoned sea water, as it has for 5 or 6 years now. It stripped organic compounds from the water, and it grew. That same clam is now somewhere between my stomach and my large intestine. Words can only defile the relationship I have with the clam, with the plankton the clam filtered yesterday, with the sun's energy captured by the plankton two weeks ago while I fretted about the school budget cuts.

That I can even think such thoughts depends on my ability to convert the clam's clamminess into glucose, to feed my brain.

Gold can't do that.

This was my 500th post. I'm thinking of retiring soon....


Sarah Cannon said...

I was yammmering about blogs to a friend over dinner. I pulled up Google Reader, saw you had something new, and read the entire post outloud.

The footnote broke our hearts. I'm taking it as a reminder to thank you for the prompts to slow down and reflect.

doyle said...

Dear Sarah,

Thanks for the kind words.

I owe a few folks some real letters typed on an old typewriter.

On the other hand, so long as I have lesson plans to write, the blog gives me a good place to duck working while pretending to do something useful. So, yep, another post this morning, written in between figuring out which strategies to try on the lambs this week.

Sue VanHattum said...

>I could not find them until I believed they were there. Once I believed they were there, I could not believe I missed them before that.

The one time I went morel hunting, it was like that. I needed to see what they look like on the ground and how they hide, so it was a bit more than believing.

One Ring... said...

So, Doyle, you wise wizard, did you put the ring in some fire to see if Elfish was inscribed? You know that needs to go in a volcano now, right?

doyle said...

Dear Sue,

At some point, I think I mentioned tarantula season--a friend of mine moved to Cali, and had no idea there were big spiders about during their mating season. Once he saw started seeing them, he could not believe he missed them.

The more we look, the more we see, and the more we realize how little we know.

Dear Kelly,

I may have already misplaced the ring. I found a diamond ring last July in in the harbor by the Spanish Arch in Galway, probably tossed there by an irate Galway Girl.

Yep, I lost that one, too--think I left in Ireland.