Muddy Work

As a native Midwesterner who grew up about as far from oceans as you can get, I’ve still got a lot to learn about life along the coastline. So I was fascinated to watch these two people taking advantage of the low tide to dig for clams, mussels, quahogs, periwinkles, whelks, or some of the other abundant shellfish that can be found in the seaside mudflats of Maine when the tide rolls out. They were toiling away in the basin between the dock and the rocks just below the Greenhead peninsula.

It looked like very hard work. They were wearing rubber boots that came up to their knees and sank into the mud above their ankles as they dug and searched. You could only imagine the sucking sound the mud must have made on their boots as they moved steadily along, and the smells they experienced, being nose down and only a foot or two from the thick, briny mud. And the tide put a definite deadline on their efforts, because it was only a matter of time before the seawater rushed back in to cover the mud again. It’s not work that permits dawdling.

I can only hope that the mudflats rewarded their efforts, which were interesting to watch.

Steamers And Beer

One of the great things about Maine is the abundance of absolutely fresh, succulent seafood and shellfish options that you can find on just about any restaurant menu.

Consider, for example, the enticing combination of steamed clams — i.e., “steamers” — and draft beer.  I first developed a taste for steamers and beer when I worked at Alpine Village in Lake George, New York in the summer of 1976.  It’s the perfect after-work bar food combination.  A plate of piping hot steamed clams and bowls of drawn butter and clam broth are put in front of you.  You fish the clams out of their shells and dunk them in the broth and butter, chew and swallow, and wash it all down with cold brew.  The shells then get casually tossed into a refuse bowl.  The process is a bit sloppy and a lot of fun.

These kinds of local food options makes a visit to Maine special.  You can’t get clams and beer in Columbus.  A platter of steamers, some draft Shipyard summer ale, and a Red Sox game on the bar TV lets you know you’re not in Ohio anymore, Toto.