We left home, hearts heavy with news of the latest tragedy in Nice, and the horrible political skirmish in our own country, and slipped away for a weekend to the Weekapaug Inn in Westerly, Rhode Island.
The inn is located on Quonochontaug Pond, a salt water lagoon off the Atlantic Ocean. The pond’s beauty and tranquility permeate everything about this place. Eventually you can’t help but mellow as the gentle ebb and flow of the tides begin to slow your heart rate, as you’re soothed by cool ocean breezes.
Long ago, conservancies and land trusts extended their protective embrace around the pond, recognizing the importance of its large salt marshes providing sanctuary for migratory birds, and plentiful spawning grounds for clams and fish. A few houses have been built near the pond, but primarily it is enjoyed via kayak and water craft with a shallow draft that explore its myriad coves and channels.
This is called a Beetle Cat, designed about 1920 by Mr Beetle. It’s small, and a perfect vessel for teaching young people how to harness the wind and respect the vagaries of weather while racing across the pond.
Here, dawn is breaking over the pond, shrouded in fog. The chairs remind me of church pews, with people ready to file in to sing praise for the dawning of a new day.
These fellas are clamming on the sand flats. They are towing a perforated basket behind them to hold the clams, keeping them cool while sifting out the grit and sand from the clams as they wade across the flats.
JJ and I borrowed some water shoes, terrific ones that protect your feet from baby sea monsters and slimy things, and joined in the mysterious pleasure of digging up food from beneath the sand. We didn’t have rakes but used our fingers, and yes indeed, there were clams aplenty. It was amazing to discover all this free high quality protein, hidden like treasure, mean’t to be found.
Later while walking along the shore beside the clam beds, Jim, who loves all foods Japanese, spotted pousse-pied, a common plant that thrives in tidal marshes. Around here it’s known as sea beans, but in proper Latin plant nomenclature, it is called Salicornia. Around the world, it goes by many names, but is always found in salt marshes and springs. It tastes salty and has a lively, crunchy texture. All it needs is a quick steaming and you have an exotic topping for your favorite dinner.
A little foraging and this pond supplies a gourmet dinner for free.
The pond seems a peaceful place for nesting birds and newborn fish taking their first swim in this nursery-like setting. So too for humans, as children can learn to brave the sheltered water in tiny boats. This is summer at it’s best, with the freedom to explore accessible waters, and the wonders of all the creatures thriving there.
It is places like this that nurture the environmental advocates of a new generation.