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Louise Clamming

I knew the picture would get you to read this story . . .

Recently I wrote a blog about clamming, and it reminded me of the first time I took the Lovely Louise to Barnstable Harbor for a little clamming trip. I must tell the story. By the way, that's not actually Louise in the picture but she was doing the same thing . . .

We were looking for cherrystones and little necks. These are quahogs, but they're called cherrystones and little necks because of their size. They're still the same clam. They like to live in rocky sand and mud, and the best place to get them is around Calves Point in Barnstable Harbor.

There are several ways to find quahogs, but in my experience (which is vast), the best way is to put your heels together and point your toes outward to the side. You then take very small steps through the mud, and you can feel them with your feet. Once started, you walk in a straight line, then turn around and walk back in a standard grid pattern. This method will save a ton of wear and tear on your back, because you only bend down when your feet find a clam. The reason you do this is so that you can cover an area completely and not miss any of the little buggers.

The Lovely Louise does not like being told what to do, even by someone who has been quahogging for most of his life. She decides to do it her way. What way is that, you ask? In her method, you take giant steps and wander all over the mud flats and hope that you step on a quahog. Not very efficient, but she did look quite attractive in her bikini, taking giant steps through the mud.

When I was ahead of her by ten or fifteen clams, she knew she had to find a better way. Down on her hands and knees she went, and she started to feel for them with her hands. She did much better this way, but she knew she could find a way to do better and cover more territory. So she lay down completely in the mud and started making breast stroke motions with her arms … and lo and behold, she almost immediately found two clams. That ended the discussion, and she spent the rest of our time there “swimming” in the mud in her bikini.

I forgot to mention that there were two guys on the flat next to where we were, and they had been watching her the entire time. Well, who wouldn't? When they saw her “swimming” method, they completely doubled over with laughter and had to stop clamming themselves. I, of course, was hysterical.

Once we had our limit, Louise stood up, entirely covered in Barnstable Harbor mud. She looked like a contestant in a strip-joint mud-wrestling contest. (Not that I minded!) She sort of reminded me of Bo Derek in 10. Remember that scene where Bo walks out of the ocean? Put Bo in a bikini instead of that one-piece, and you have the idea. The problem now was that she wanted to wash all the mud off before heading home. I never told her that salt-water mud will stick to you like duct tape. Between our mud flat and the flat with the two voyeur clammers ran a little salt-water stream. Into it she popped and began washing as though she were taking a bath. Our two neighboring pervert clammers couldn’t believe their luck, and they had now totally given up the clamming and were just watching us. Well, maybe they weren’t really watching both of us.

Finally cleaned up, we headed back to the parking lot with our bucket of shellfish gold. On the way, we stopped at some of the rocks that were now out of the water and gathered up a pile of mussels. Yes, living on Cape Cod is wonderful.

We decided to stop by my father's house to see if he would like some of our clams for dinner. He did. He took the basket from me, dumped everything into his kitchen sink, handed me back the empty basket, and thanked me for the mussels and little necks. I was so stunned, I couldn't bring myself to tell him that we only meant for him to take a few! So the Lovely Louise and I headed home empty-handed after a whole afternoon of work. Ah well, such is family and life on the Cape.

Louise and I have only been clamming a few more times together, and not for quahogs. We went for steamers because I have a secret spot that produces the most amazing steamers. No, I'm not going to tell you where it is. Right now it's all mine—I haven't seen anyone else clamming there—and besides, you need a boat to get there, which is just fine with me. Someday I will take Louise quahogging in the mud again, and if you're really nice to me, I'll let you know when so you can watch the fun from afar.


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