Saturday, July 23, 2011
The heat has arrived in New England. For more than a week, I've watched and read news reports of the searing heat wave gripping much of our nation. My dad, who lives in Texas, has told me of the epic drought in the Lone Star State, a stretch of rainless days that's gone so long that mature oak trees may die, and neighbors around the lake are entertaining trucking in water, so they can get their boats in. We mercifully had been spared the heat; whenever I looked at the map, it showed this balloon of red that reached to the north, west, and east (and of course south) but never expanded enough to encircle New England.
That changed yesterday. According to the National Weather Service, the thermometer hit 100 degrees in Providence, and it was 103 in Boston. I was startled when around 3 p.m. I checked the temperature in our little bayside town, and it was 99 degrees. We're just not geared for this. Most homes, ours included, do not have central air conditioning. Instead, we have window units interspersed throughout the house. They don't get used too often. But they're sure getting a workout now. It's amazing what a difference there is between 90 degrees and 100. Maybe it's perception, but I don't think so. I can function at 90. I'm a blob at 100, a torpid mass, chugging water, normally robust appetite way down. Welcome to global warming, my friends; this is just a foretaste of the misery to come.
OK, consider all that a preamble. The main story for today had to do with my first foray into clamming. Ta da! After more than a decade of living in the Ocean State, I finally did what most Rhode Islanders would consider a requirement for living here. Last Sunday, after church, Nathaniel and I headed over to T.J. and Maureen's house. (you can read more about them in the previous post.) We walked to the shore of the Kickemuit River (which locals call the "Kicky"), which was at low tide. That's the best time, as it turns out, to go clamming, because you want to go a ways out in the river – about two to three feet deep in water – to dig out the clams. To ferret them out, you dig your hand or toes into the sediment, which is a loamy mud. The clams, are nestled in there vertically, so you're feeling around for a pointy end, rather than the breadth of the shell. When you locate the pointy end, you dig around it and pull the clam out from the muck. Voila!
T.J. and I collected some three dozen clams in roughly an hour, a pretty good haul. And most of what we harvested were big clams, which locals call quahogs. Their shells are a black-silver, whereas regular clams, which locals call soft-shell, are whitish. In fact, I've been told that "clamming" is digging for clams near the shore, where the soft shells hang out, while "quahogging" is digging for clams in the water, where the quahogs burrow in. I don't know why.
On Tuesday, I took my batch, about a dozen in all, stuck them on the grill, and waited for the shells to pop open, which means the quahogs are cooked. I dipped them in butter and soy sauce and let them slide right on down. Now, that's good eatin'!
Thanks, quahogs. Thanks, Rhode Island.
Posted by Richard Lewis at 1:46 PM