END OF THE BIN: Clamming at Dusk, April 10, 2005

It felt like a dream. Roused by some primal urge, a troupe of friends raced the tide. It didn’t take much. Clam rake. Shellfish license. Rubber boots to keep out the icy water. (Some went barefoot.) First stop, Three Mile Harbor, where we tonged over a cache of oysters discovered last fall. We basked in the summer-hot spring afternoon, and reminded each other that the tide waits for no one. We crossed the Fork to the clam flats at Napeague, cutting through the nascent fields of Quail Hill Farm and clipping chives in anticipation of imminent recipes. At Promised Land we found littlenecks, more oysters, some whelk, and nothing else. The rising tide wet our knees, but not before the falling sun stretched our shadows. The rake handles left sore shoulders and the year’s first blisters. Minor inconveniences quickly forgotten when shells mingled with herbs and olive oil at the bottom of a hot pan. “Staring at plate after plate of raw oysters from down the road,” one of us shared in an email that evening, “I quietly told myself that I will never move from here.”