Sunday, June 17, 2007

Siliqua Patula, Strawberries, Lime

The summer minus tide series are the most extreme for the year. The median tide line is set (somehow) as zero. Anything above median is a plus tide; anything below is a minus tide. Simple logic, that.

In the winter we have our highest plus tides, exceeding 10 feet above median. Add a storm behind that and you get what they call a surge. Add torrential rains to the surge on a 10 foot flood tide, pushed by a storm and you get just that: a flood.

In 1996 we received over 20 inches of rain in the month of December. There was a 10 foot (or better) high tide and fierce storm winds helping the sea, shoving it into the mouth of the river. "Take it all, bitch" took on rare, but not unseen implications for those who live in the lower tidal plains. It flooded. It flooded people out. What couldn't move, or be moved, to higher ground was lost. Animals perished, lives were saved---both sides of that tide flowed.

But in the summer there is little rain, seldom a storm and the greatest recessions of the surf reveal opportunities both pleasant and productive. I went clamming this week.

An interesting thing about tides is that their extremes increase as you go north. In California it was a big deal if we got a 1.5 foot minus tide. Here on the coast of Oregon, we annually see tides reaching minus 2.5 feet. In Clam Gulch, Alaska they got a 5.4 foot minus tide on May 17th. Nova Scotia, I have heard tell, has the lowest minus tides on the planet, exceeding 10 feet. Wow. You could just about walk to Portugal if you could do it in an hour.

The difference between the lowest and highest points of a tide cycle is called the exchange. This month we got a 7 foot high tide followed by a 2.5 foot minus. The exchange was nine and a half feet. In Nova Scotia the exchange is 33 feet. When the tide changes from low to high, there is a wave called "the tidal bore." It sometimes exceedes a meter in height. The bore sounds the alarm that, if you are on low ground, it's time to begin thinking about making like The Jeffersons and start movin' up.

Ebbs do not tarry. Low slacks last little longer than the time it takes to make a good act of contrition. I have been fishing on the rocks and wound up getting wet when having to swim the renewed lagoons. Our ocean temperatures are somewhere around 52 degrees F.

In this video, my friend Jack taught me what to look for in order to see the clam "necking." There really isn't much neck to see. The "show" is very subtle. The clams will just ever so slightly breach the surface of the sand, revealing the rosette pattern of the larger of their two valves (hence the name, bivalve) and then disappear. Jack showed me this clam and we waited for it to reappear to no avail. After we got tired of waiting, he thumped the sand to startle the clam into action. Hopefully, you can see the perfectly round hole containing the whirling sand as it retracts its neck for an escape. The show appears just before a wave obscures it. Sorry. It's quick. I was told early on that razor clams are the only clam that can dig almost as fast as you can. You will see Jack doing battle with this notion, but prevailing in the end. Jack was a bit disappointed that the clam was not very big. I thrill to see any size. And the smaller ones, as they say, eat better.

See, Annie? It's true. Turlock is not only famous for its turkeys, but it is the home of Medic Alert:

This is Dan, the reason I came to the beach. I threw pots for Dan in 1981. He is the person who took me razor clamming for the very first time. He doesn't remember it. But I do.

This is Linda (on the left) and Connie. I met them at the beach. They didn't know how to dig clams. They were so cute with their brand, new shovels with the stickers still on them. I told them that I am the clam whisperer. After each had their first clam I said, "My work is done here, ladies. You're on your own." Every time I go, I meet someone new. I give them some good Gawpo to take home with them, sometimes in the form of getting clams, sometimes just in the form of a friendly contact. These gals got both.

I liked the reflection of that person holding the two buckets. There were about 80 clammers on the beach. On this minus tide it was a long walk to the first wave. About a quarter of a mile.

In front of the sand dollar is a ghost shrimp. I got about ten yesterday. Fried in peanut oil they are DELICIOUS! No one eats them. Except Gawpo, that is. They don't call them razor clams for nothing. Those shells are thin and sharp. I cut my finger on one and forgot about the cut until I saw a bright, red orb in the water. It caught my eye. That is the job of the color of blood. All of a sudden it burst into tendrils not unlike the grand finale at the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. I immediately began my vigil against great whites. The limit is 15 clams. I am learning not to break the shell.

It's rare to find a whole sand dollar. This is the second one I found.

On this and a prayer...

These are cool.

This is Keli, the ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) checker. As I was walking off the beach, I saw her checking two people headed for the parking lot. She didn't see me before she noticed three other clammers headed to another parking lot. She bolted across the sand on a dead run to catch up with them. I stepped up my pace, knowing that when she was done with them she would see me. I slowed to a walk as she turned away from her last check and when I was sure that she saw me, she started to walk faster. I stopped in my tracks, then lowered my body as though I was going to run. I started running as if I was trying to avoid her. She began running really fast. I then stopped and laughed and yelled, "That was pretty funny." She yelled back, "What---me running or you?" I yelled back, "I made you flinch." She was a good sport. The checkers ask two questions: How many and how long. My answer was: Fifteen in 27 minutes. Naughty Gawpo...

Linda and Connie again, this time with the lighthouse in the background. Look familiar, Nana-g?


At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 5:43:00 AM PDT , Anonymous quilly said...

I watched the video 3 times, still didn't see it.

Hey, I arrive in FH on July 2nd -- should be there through August 18th. OC and I look forward to meeting you.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 6:20:00 AM PDT , Blogger Logophile said...

See, this is the thing that non-costal types don't know. Clamming actually DOES include the thrill of the hunt.
As teenagers we used to go and watch my freind's mom and her friends dig clams, always a good show.
They would set up a fire on the beach and have a BBQ so we could all eat our fill then bring home the limit. We would be soooo full on those days because in addition to clams they would also be running crab pots with a boat. Mmmmmm
Good stuff
Anyway, love the pics, and the video.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 6:36:00 AM PDT , Blogger ARM said...

I've heard of this "clamming" before. I love the pictures, Gawpo. You are too cute!

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 6:58:00 AM PDT , Blogger mindy said...

i've never seen people clamming before. interesting. i used to find whole sand dollars. not so much anymore. thank you for linking me again, but now, i guess i'll go by michael. :)

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 7:15:00 AM PDT , Blogger goldennib said...

Jack's arm was so far into the sand I thought the clam had a hold of him and was going to pull him under.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 7:17:00 AM PDT , Blogger somewhere joe said...

White clam pizza The best.

(You can use pre-made pizza dough if you want)

2 cloves garlic -- finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
flour -- for sprinkling
1 pound commercially made pizza dough
yellow cornmeal -- for sprinkling
1 cup shredded low-moisture -- whole milk mozzarella
1 cup shucked baby clams or chopped clams -- drained
1/3 cup grated asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil


Have on hand a pizza stone and pizza peel, or a large baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine the garlic and oil. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

Set the oven at 550F. Put the pizza stone or sheet into the oven as it heats.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Very carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Sprinkle it with cornmeal. Or sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal. Transfer the dough to the sheet or peel.

Spread the garlic mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Add mozzarella, clams, Asiago, and basil, leaving the border bare.

Return the sheet to the oven or slip the pizza off the peel onto the stone. Bake the pizza for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is golden. Cut into wedges to serve.

This recipe for White Clam Pizza serves/makes 2

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 7:58:00 AM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

QUILLY: You can see it fairly well in the original video, but uploading to the Tube sees much resolution going down the----tube. Dang. I will do it again with the camcorder next time.

LOGO: Fond mems of former digs. Nice. I will be posting a crab venture this summer fer shur.

ARM: Awwww. Thank you, Armanda.

MINDY: Since you precede him, yes. It's the polite thing to do now. lol

You are so IN, Baby!

NIBBY: Jack is long. Really, really long. I might have disappeared entirely!

SOMEWHERE JOE: THANK YOU!!!!! You get way more than two snaps and a twirl for that. I may go with the frozen dough. Mrs. Gawpo, Sr, however, only makes the dough from scratch. I will use two slugs and marry them in the center on the pan. I feel warm all over. And by the way, again----thank you so much for that article on perspective from the children. Excellent.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 8:55:00 AM PDT , Blogger vicci said...

Oh...this sounds so fun!!!! Looks like you enjoyed it! I made clam dip this you want a good recipe? Also...nothing like a good clam sauce over spaghetti...what's going on this weekend???? I still don't know what's goin on son is having surgery on ya! XXXOOO

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 10:40:00 AM PDT , Blogger lime said...

and good fun was had by all, the call and pics yousent were just so fun. i don't see strawberries or lime in the post though so i am confused.

when we go to the chesapeake my kids liek digging the little clams up there too, they always throw em all back though. i'm not sure the ones they dig there are such good eatin.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 11:06:00 AM PDT , Blogger Blue the Spa Girl said...

Is there such thing as Oregon Clam chowder? If so, sign me up. I always indulge in the New England version myself.
On this and a prayer, loved it.
You with your clam bucket strapped on, priceless. I will get out there one day to see such clams for myself.
Syanara clam whisperer.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 11:32:00 AM PDT , Blogger bazza27 said...

The 2 buckets photo is great, one of the few occasions when it doesn't look better blown up. It's nice that you give "Good Gawpo" when you're out and about, but 15 in 27 minutes, now that's impressive!

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 1:13:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Brooke said...

Gawpo, please, please stop! These pics and videos make me soooo homesick! lol I miss the beach so badly!

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 4:05:00 PM PDT , Blogger Claire said...

Gee whiz, it sure looks like a lot of work! I'm guessing you must love to eat clams. I wouldn't trust clams from around Cali, cuz of the bad pollution. Is that ever a problem for Oregon beaches?

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 4:07:00 PM PDT , Blogger Nana-g said...

Me too brooke, gawpo makes me homesick! Gawpo, I think you need to do an independence run and I will meet you, bucket in hand and go - I want to dig clams, drink inappropriately, excessively, celebrate clamdom, and make somewhere joe's pizza. love you and I recognize my runaway place -ng

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

VICCI: Planning on a Friday departure, in the plane or in the car. Gotta go either way. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather on this end of the journey. Please include the recipe. Right here is a good place, like Joe.

LIMERS: I thought about including that in the post, but it was getting sort of long. That's the next one.

BLUE TSG, etc.: So glad to see that SOMEONE got the wing thing enough to say something about it. lol Thank you. We call it New England clam chowder here, too. Mr. Gawpo, Sr is the keeper of that recipe. These clams are not wasted in smotherage of other juices, however. They are fried in 1/2 butter and 1/2 corn oil after a dip in flour, egg and bread crumbs with liberal amounts of romano cheese.

BAZZER: A great complement, coming from the master himself! Yes, I do give good Gawpo wherever I go.

BWOOKIE: Then my work is done here as well! Bullseye. Get your butt back here! You don't just miss THE beach; you miss THIS beach!

Oh, CLAIRE: Not a problem with pollutants. But we did have nearly three whole years of closure due to naturally occurring demoic acid levels. They are worth the work.

NANER-GEE: You are so ON! See you there. I mean here. XO!

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 10:34:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Brooke said...

You're absolutely right, Gawpo... I do miss THAT specific beach! And my butt and the rest of me will be home soon as I can be.

At Monday, June 18, 2007 at 10:43:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

BWOOKIE: YAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Can't wait. Prepare to say goodbye to the state with the little "hi" between the great, big zeroes!!!

At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 3:11:00 AM PDT , Anonymous Kat said...

What a fun day. I haven't been clamming in a very long time.

At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 4:23:00 AM PDT , Blogger Sheila said...

'√°gua proFUNDA' Portuguese for deep water...from which comes Bay of FUNDY.
This post brings back childhood memories, not of clamming but of shrimping, in the shallow tidal pools on the Welsh coast.
I'm always fascinated by what the tide washes up, and I'm not disappointed here.
Love the little sand scupltures and all the other assorted finds you share with us.
That you love life is evident, that you share it is a gift..
Thank you for the gift..

At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 6:56:00 PM PDT , Blogger Laurie said...

The clam whisperer...I love it.


At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 10:11:00 PM PDT , Blogger LisaOceandreamer said...

It's 10 PM, I need the sand man, if I don't sleep I may just clam up tomorrow - and no one digs that. Some days if I don't get enough rest fatigue hits me in waves. (then I can be a real beach). But I wanted to come by and bid you good tidings. Hopefully tomorrow my comments will be more razor sharp because now I'm just being a tidal bore.
Love ya!

At Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 10:39:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

KAT: Fun and productive. I like getting critters out of the surf. Yum...

SHEILA: Thank you for that. I have heard of the Bay of Fundy. The edges are teeming with life. I live there. Share there. Hugs back!

LAURIE: shhhhhhh.........

LISAOCEANDREAMER: We need to exchange phone numbers. I will be down on Friday. We can find time with you and Vicci and Annie. Yes? Yes!

You have once again outdone yourself with puns. I love it!!!

Xs and Os!!! G

At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 9:05:00 AM PDT , Blogger Candace said...

So much here to love, but did no one else here get derailed at "clam whisperer?" Naughty Gawpo, indeed! ^_^ Welcome to my gutter. :)

At Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at 7:43:00 PM PDT , Blogger Gawpo said...

CANDACIA: Yeah, and I didn't even get to the strawberries and Limers. That is on a verge. xo

At Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 12:56:00 AM PDT , Blogger AnnieElf said...

Hey G! I'm finally on-line again exploring blogs and I've found the clam (oysters?) post you mentioned. What memories. I want to get on the beach again. I want to be near the beach. Retirement and resettlement won't come soon enough.

At Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 1:04:00 AM PDT , Blogger AnnieElf said...

Hummm, had to come back. Loved the You Tube video. Looked like a lot of fun.


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