Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: Beach daze

Summer is here, so don’t forget to make sure your beach parking permit is current.

“Roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer.”

Nat King Cole’s soft voice was coming out of the AM radio in the family Studebaker. We were all off to the Memorial Day picnic that marked the official start of summer. Even though school was not over for the season, the end was in sight. I just had to deal with final exams. And then a full two months of summer fun doing all those things that 12-year-olds love.

I had that same good feeling of anticipation this past weekend as I packed a lunch to take to Shell Beach. Clear sunny skies, soft breezes and very clear water. I guess that’s because there are not very many boats in the water yet. The beach was also pretty empty with a few cars and people — some were even swimming. I did notice that beach parking stickers are now required or you’ll get ticketed.

I checked my sticker and it says it’s good until 2020. Check yours because no sticker can result in a hefty fine.

And speaking of permits, I went to Town Hall the other day and acquired this year’s shellfish permit. It cost $10 and is good for the year. I always think about how many clams I can buy for $10 and when the permit will pay for itself.

But it’s not so much about saving money as it is about getting out in the fresh sea air and searching for the clams. I am not going to reveal any of my favorite spots in this column nor will I suggest places to go. Each individual must find his own. Clams on the Island are pretty abundant in most places at low tide. And we’ve got some 50 town landings that can be checked out by the clamming public. So try them out.

All you need is a basket and eager fingers. Kneeling in shallow water and exploring the bottom should easily yield enough for a meal.

Where you get your clams will determine just how difficult they will be to clean. If you are digging in a muddy bottom, they’ll have to be scrubbed pretty vigorously and then sit in water with corn meal or oatmeal. If the clams are from a primarily sandy bottom, the cleaning process is not as complicated.

I have learned over the years that clams and oysters thrive in the good clean waters we have around the Island. They can also clean water by filtering out impurities. I do not know much about this process but sometimes wonder about eating a clam that has filtered impurities. That’s why it’s so important to eat only clams from certified waters.

I remember clamming in Island waters a half century ago and listening to old timers enjoying the water, the sand and the sun, saying, “It doesn’t get much better than this,” as they brought up the next clams.

Meanwhile the senior center had a Zumba class last week and it “was awesome,” according to assistant to the director Sarah Mundy. Sarah added that the luncheon at Mashomack Preserve’s Manor House was spectacular.

I went out to the manor house last week to cover the Suffolk County aquaculture meeting and noticed that just taking the ride out there is a treat, although I am glad I was driving my Jeep.

Another indication of the summer season is the plethora of yard sales on the weekend. My granddaughter returned from one and told me she saw an item that she knew I would love. Well, I went and looked at a life-size wooden skeleton sculpture. It appears to have some religious meaning to it. I had to have it and will investigate more.