Chewonki Semester Students participate in a half day service project each semester to involve the students in the surrounding community. The projects vary quite a bit from semester to semester, but a sampling from this spring’s projects include: playing bingo with veterans, participating in spring planting at a family farm, yard work at a senior’s residence, delivering and stacking wood for a local family, and clam seeding (as Anna will describe below!).
Two Saturdays ago on April 28th, 5 students piled into a van along with Carol, the resident expert clam digger. Carol and the students, Kailina, Paola, Taylor, Mountie and Anna (me!) were bound for the mud flats near Chewonki’s Eaton Farm to do an interesting job for Community Service Day – clam digging. The uniqueness of the project was what originally prompted me to sign up for it; when else would I have the opportunity to dig for clams in the mud flats of Maine? And of course the mud aspect of clam digging was alluring. I could never turn down an opportunity to get waist deep in mud. We donned our hip waders, and waddled down to the flats, where Carol gave us a brief “Clam Digging 101” tutorial. One simply drags the clam rake quickly through the mud, scans the area for clam shaped masses, and sticks their hands in the gooey mud and picks them out. The tricky parts are not getting stuck waste deep in mud or crushing the clams as you try to dig for them. I encountered both of those challenges frequently, and had to limit myself to digging near the land after a particularly sticky mud incident. Some excitement happened about halfway through our digging excursion, when my camera was dropped in the mud. No one noticed the absence of the camera until a while later, when my paranoid mind feared the worse- the camera surely had to have sunken deep into the gushy mud, never to be seen again. But Carol went out into the flats, determined to recover it, and sure enough, she found it, good as new. Well, it was a bit mud clogged, but to my disbelief, it worked fine! Energized with the relief that my camera was safe, I walked along the edge of the mud flats with Mountie, Kailina and Paola to do a shore clean, finding everything from full milk jugs to buoys. The abundance of the junk on the shore was disheartening. After gathering our equipment, and taking a group photo of us all coated in mud, we jumped into plastic bags to protect the bus from our muddy bodies, and headed back to Chewonki, just in time to regale other semester students of our experience over lunch.
The next morning, we ate our hard earned clams for brunch; they were indeed delicious.
Anna Sheinaus, Montclair NJ