A rake, a basket, a mud flat, and if you’re so inclined, a license.
Take what you need for dinner, eat them before the next low tide. I put the smallest and the largest back into the flat, tucking them into the mud, keeping a promise made years ago to my niece who loves clams but not killing.
November can be kind, but more often than not, the dying light is unkind to those creatures that depend on the sun.
But the creatures keep moving, and so do I, to the rhythm of the tides and the pull of the rake, one life feeding on another, grace for one, the abyss for the other.
I know what folks will pay for this. I also know what it’s worth. Two very different things….
I have a chunk of ambergris, found it years ago, and while briefly tempted to sell it, am grateful now I kept it.
It was sitting right on the edge of the bay just north of Lincoln Avenue. It wasn’t much to look at, and I am not sure what possessed me to pick it up. Even then I almost tossed it back into the bay.
I mostly forget about it, but now and again I walk through a cloud of its molecules and get briefly taken to, well, not sure where, some vague place of immeasurable joy.
Not immense. Immeasurable.
In the literal sense.
You cannot measure the pleasure, the joy, the presence of the herenow that lump of aged whale shit brings me. It apparently has the same effect on others, why else would anyone offer thousands of dollars for a slab of shite?
The big data junkies among us might argue that all things are measurable, and I supposed you could take pre- and post-ambergris exposure levels of my serum oxytocin and plot them over time, but that becomes impractical, and it’s not important anyway..
Turns out measuring some pretty important things in education are impractical, too. Brilliant writing. Unorthodox but rational thinking. Sense of public duty. Joy. Ability to observe subtle details. Flexibility when confronted with new ideas. Empathy.
When our ability to measure outcomes trumps our choices of which outcomes matter, we’ve stripped “public” from education.
I took this picture during a beach walk last week for the claw–I’ve been fascinated by the feistiness, the vivid colors, and the tastiness of blue crabs since I was little. The more I know about them the harder they are to eat.
And now, looking at the photograph, I marvel at the sand. Pieces of rock, thousand to millions to billions of years old , broken into tiny pieces, mixed with mortal shells, a mishmash of shapes and colors.
The edge of the bay tells stories of time, of mortality, of the unimaginable power of eons of time and tides. Each particle has a history and will continue to be long after the me of me is long gone.
A manchild brought in his VR Oculus headset to class right before the break. He danced around the back of the classroom firing missiles at targets as real to him as the sun itself.
And the sound of the sand rolling under the waves will never be heard.