Posts Tagged ‘Digging for Razor clams’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

The beach brought forth other treasures in the fall besides decaying
foul smelling walrus carcass with precious ivory tusks and oosiks. Fall
storms washed up driftwood we collected for the wood stove. Donny was
home for a brief stay from Fairbanks. We spent a day gathering wood
while the tide was out. Donny and Sister each had a three wheeler
equipped with a small trailer we used to haul logs from the beach to the
house. I followed gathering what I could by hand. Some wood was
considered worthy while most was not. I could not clearly identify the
difference and in accordance to the Eskimo way, when I asked Sister to
explain the identification of good from bad wood concept, I received a
less than full sentence explanation punctuated with raised eyebrows and
pursed lips (the Eskimo “point”) from a good log to a bad
log. Did she still consider me the “outsider” after all these months
and not worth the bother educating about arctic ways? Did she think it
not worth her time as I would be leaving soon enough anyway. People like
me don’t usually stick around long. Or was this an honest form of
Eskimo communication? Does an Eskimo learn primarily, almost
exclusively, from watching and doing? Do whites talk too much? Way too

I helped best I could. Some of the logs were far too unwieldy for me
but Donny and especially Sister handled them like a trooper. I had
become physically stronger but not strong enough if I were left to
survive on my own.

Early November, before it was cold enough to freeze, the winds raged
from the North pushing the sea water away from land briefly exposing
several yards of fresh flat beach. Maggie closed the shop, we donned
rubber boots, gloves and warm gear to protect from the cold winds. We
each carried trowels and buckets and with heads down we patrolled the
hard packed water-logged sand for small holes, dimples, that when
stepped on squirted a small fountain of water. That was a sign to dig.
Dig quickly. Some six inches below the surface were Razor Clams. I often
wonder how the first Americans stumbled upon food sources. Who among a
tribe would have deduced that when the wind freakishly pushes the water
back from the land’s edge that for a rare day or two in the year, he/she
would have thought to start digging? I would have stayed inside my sod
home (historically no igloos in Alaska) and hunkered down until the
bitter wind had calmed down.

Maggie was able to fix some 30 — 40 clams for dinner. It was
difficult to wash all the sand from inside and outside the shells and I
had a few bites of granules in my seafood dinner, but it was still a
five-star meal for me. Every bite of food tasted better in Golovin than
anywhere else I’ve lived since.

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann

Pictures taken from http://www.alaska-fishing-guide-1.com/clam_digging_.html on how to dig for Razor clams. Click on the picture for more pictures and information.

Video on digging for Razor clams using a “tube” instead of a shovel. YouTube Link.

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