A Bushel and a Peck

Sweetheart and I camped right along the extreme tidal flats up where Maine becomes Canada and the water rises and falls 25 feet with every hi-lo tide. We were in Cobscook Bay, “cobscook” being the Passamaquoddy tribal word for “boiling tides”. Part of the allure of our state park campsite was that at low tide “adventurous campers” (said the park literature) were permitted to go out into the expansive mud flats and get very dirty in the search for heretofore unknown to me softshell clams. Clams so fat and juicy and salty-sweet they can’t even close their shells all the way. We arrived just at low tide and ventured out to secure our dinners, while all the while the incredible fast and furious waters chased us back to land. We pulled a bounty, put them in fresh water to let them filter out their grit while we prepared the fire and tended to our sore fingers. When the coals were jewels, we banked and stoked and roasted the clams over the new open flames. Their salty juices hissed and spit, we melted butter in an enamel coffee cup by setting it at the edge of the fire, and spooned from the jar of cocktail sauce we picked up in Lubec (it was the easternmost cocktail sauce of the United States). Washed all down with dark brown beer it was a joyous supper indeed. And for dessert? The berries we had picked along the hiking trail that morning. It may seem simple to say, but it’s a certain city epiphany: how honest and good it feels to catch, pick, or harvest the food you eat yourself. To provide. When the fruits of your labors are actual fruits, foraged in the open, free in every sense.