Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Simple Life

I grew up in a small town on the south shore of Long Island, New York where clamming was a way of life.  Many of the Dads and most of the boys had clam boats that they used to earn their living.  It was and still is a hard way of life.  The Great South Bay can be very temperamental and the weather can be unforgiving especially in the winter when that cold wet wind comes in off the Atlantic.  It was here that I developed my love of the water.  My brothers and I would often take our fishing poles and ride down to the dock with great hopes of bringing home enough flounder to feed the family.  This was not usually a successful attempt.  I remember one day when a boy I liked in school came up to the dock in his boat, just at that moment I pulled up my line only to find an eel on it.  I screamed and the boy laughed, that memory is still in my mind so many years later. 

Fresh fish, clams and scallops were a normal way of life.  They were nothing fancy, just a way for my parents to feed 6 hungry children, 5 of them growing boys with what I still think are hollow legs.  Time and life took us away from Long Island, only to return occasionally for a visit usually strategically planned for the summer or early autumn when it is absolutely beautiful.

Our home after living in Phoenix and the bay area of California has been Charleston, SC for quite a few years now.  Oddly enough, even though the culture may be different, the way of life for many is still the same as my childhood.  In place of clamming is shrimping and oystering.  Going to an oyster roast at Bowen's Island and eating the oyster clusters fresh out of the creek there is an experience never forgotten.  The oysters are sweet and delicious, the clusters a challenge to open as they are exactly what they sound like, a bunch of oysters who for some mystery decided to all grow together like a giant oyster puzzle.

A few years ago, Santa brought my husband a crab trap.  It sat out in the shed until last summer when he went and purchased some chicken necks from Doschers where you can buy any imaginable part of an animal took the trap down the road to a friends dock, loaded up her traps and ours and threw them in the Stono River.  We weren't sure what success we would have, it's one of those things you never knew.   The endeavor was a success, so much so that folks were hiding from us for fear we would give them more crabs!

This 4th of July weekend Michael put out the pots again and we were rewarded with about 3 dozen crabs.  He brought them home in a cooler, made his own version of Old Bay Seasoning and put a giant pot of water on to boil.  These were some lively crabs who were not ready to die!  Bear was not so sure about the cooler, especially after he took one peak inside and saw all the crabs snapping and doing what crabs do when they are mad!  A few of the crabs even escaped from the pot as Michael was trying to cook them!

What brought this to mind today was a blog I follow and the vacation they have just taken.  They made wonderful crab cakes but purchased the crab meat since it is just too much work and you never know if the crab gods will smile down on you and give you enough crabs to do with what you desire.  The photography on this blog is wonderful and I look forward to each posting.  I hope you will enjoy it also!

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