Siliqua patula

razxrclxm.jpgThe razor clam (Siliqua patula) is an important bivalve mollusk harvested extensively throughout its range by commercial and sport fisheries.

When we were little my parents often took us to the Oregon coast clamdigging but we never wandered off and eventually they gave up.

I remember how tasty the flesh of razor clams is, fried up with scrambled eggs and breadcrumbs and eaten with ketchup in a weathered, minimalistic, little rented cabin. I remember how grey the sky was and how our dog liked running around the beach.

My uncle cut his hand on a razor clam once, badly, requiring stitches, so ever since then, when I hear “razor clam” I think of something sharp.

Also, they burrow fast, so when you’re digging them you have to be quick with your clam shovel. And they close down tight, being clams.

The act of clamming up has been on my mind lately. I find myself doing it, in response to various stimuli: shutting down tight, both inwardly and outwardly, buried deeply in the sand. It is an old, patterned, automatic response. I’m trying to think of something better to do, as it takes a long time to open back up again, and I’m not getting any younger.

Maybe it’s the third possibility, in addition to fight or flight; clamming up. But what I’m thinking, if there’s a third possibility, maybe there’s a fourth possibility. And a fifth. And a sixth. Fight, flight, clamming up, playing dead, changing color. Flaring neck frill. What else?
Which do you prefer?

7 responses to “Siliqua patula

  1. my grandparents had a house on the chesapeake. summers, going down to the docks, pulling up the oysters my grandfather had tucked into their beds months ago. there’s a photo of me age six, opening my mouth bigger than my head to shove in a raw oyster.
    anyway, that’s one option you haven’t listed: opening up to a bit of determined prying, and being totally enjoyed.

  2. my personal favorite appears to be weeping and clinging desperately. Here is my favorite quotation about fear. It never ceases to move me:
    Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pools and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share. We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold on to. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. &mdashPema Chödrön

    So what I aspire to do when I want to close up is: Perk up. Get curious. Pay closer attention. Be grateful. Give.

  3. Me, I decided to jump off the cliff and see what happens. (Do you remember that Zen tale? The strawberries are perfect. Haven’t noticed any fried clams yet.)

  4. mig

    perfect, brian. thanks.

  5. paul

    This reminds me of a story from my college days. This hard studying grad student named Barney shared a house with me. My friend Ken would come over and sometimes we would hang out. After we had known each other a year or so Barney said something to the effect of “Before I met you I didn’t know that you can have something that to do and just NOT do it”. (I think there was a better wording than that but I can’t think of it right now).

    So there is always the passive aggressive reaction of just doing nothing. Not quite the same as clamming up, since when you are clamming up the other parties involved can see that. You don’t want to give theme even that much feedback.

    The thing that takes time is to be able to recognize it in yourself and quit feeling guilty about it. An example is that I handle the bill paying in our house and I never actually balance the check book with our bank account. I glance over the bank statements now and then to look for suspicious withdrawals, but I never try and make things add up exactly. It works fine, I save a lot of time, but it took a little while before I could just admit to myself that I was never going to get around to balancing the check book and not to feel bad about it..

  6. Well, the goeduck gives you another alternative: just flop out your enormous tool and watch the terrified enemy turn to jelly.

  7. You could throw in some head bobbing to go with that flaring neck frill. Like the cute little anoles, who blow up their necks all florid pink and nod up and down dramatically. So cute! Like Kermit the Frog, agreeing emphatically with whatever it is you just said. Either that or marking you as his mate, or threatening to bite the guy who’s moving in on his territory. It’s a nice multipurpose gesture.