Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Story of the Clam


Last weekend, my son came back from a sleepover and dumped his overnight bag on the back steps. It sat there in the hot sun for many hours. Finally, I picked it up and decided to clean it out. I reached in and noticed something was moving at the bottom of the bag.

It was a bivalve. A clammy sort of thing, with the penile appendage poking out of its shell. Ah yes, a clam indeed. I had eaten this sort of thing at seafood establishments, with drawn butter. I regretted that now. The penile appendage was wiggling. The clam was alive.

It was sitting next to his pajamas and toothbrush, along with a fair amount of sand. There were two linty pennies at the bottom of the bag. I picked the clam up between my thumb and forefinger. It pulsed against my skin. Its movements were foreign, alien. Yet it lived, and I lived. It sat all day in the hot sun and still lived.

“Please take it outside,” I said to my son.

“We thought it was dead,” he said. He and his friend had found the clam in the Mamaroneck river.

“It’s not dead but it’s gonna be soon!”

He took the clam outside. He didn’t come back in. We walked out to find out where he’d gone. He was around the side of the house, crying, heartbroken.

His whole body shook with the tragedy. And I remembered that hopelessness. I pitied every aphid, every butterfly, every ant I’d trapped as a child. I remembered the little rabbit that I’d saved from a cat that had shaken it and ruined its organs; it had died and gone stiff in its shoebox of grass clippings. I had been struck with an overwhelming grief, and no one else had even winced.

My husband said: “Look. Go and get it. We’re going to return it to the river. We’re going to save its life.”

My son perked up and ran out, but he’d wedged the clam under a piece of concrete by the back steps and couldn’t get it out. We fetched the cooking tongs and pulled the poor clam free. Then they got in the car and drove it down to the river, right to the spot where he’d found it. I watched them go.

When they returned my son’s face was calm.

“Is the clam alive?” I said.

“Yes.”

“And do you feel better?”

“Much better, yes.”

I thank my husband for doing that small thing.

12 comments:

greenwoman said...

Awwwww. Sweet of your hubby to help the little guy return the clam to the river! And hopefully your son won't be packing any more live water creatures with his toothbrush!

Anita Grace Howard said...

What a good husband and daddy. :) Hooray for saving the clam! Thanks for sharing this heartwarming moment, Jenny girl. :)

Anita Grace Howard said...

Oh, and by the by, I'm tagging you in a meme tomorrow. DO NOT feel obligated to post it on your blog unless you just want to. I wanted to give you a heads up so you'd stop by and see all of the wonderful things I think about you. :)

Oh, and no need to post this comment, unless you just want everyone to know how I love you bunches and tons. Hee.

Angela V. Cook said...

Awwww!! That is the sweetest thing ever! Your son sounds a lot like my daughter--she has a HUGE heart when it comes to critters ;o) However, my son is just the opposite--I'm pretty sure he'd smoosh me with the bottom of his shoe if he could ;o)

Such a sweet story, thanks for sharing :o)

Bethany C. said...

Your husband gets a booger on the pants pass for that one.

I still feel sick when I think about the chipmunk I ran over a couple of years ago. Stupid little guy, ran RIGHT in front of my car while I was being tailgated. The little thump/thump beneath my radials haunts me to this day.

Marybk said...

Big, starry eyes going *blink blink blink*

Such a great story. :}

Jennifer said...

That is so sweet. My son is exactly the same way. He is nine and can not bear it when an animal or anything is hurt.

cherie said...

Yay for your hubs and your little guy! I'm glad the clam survived. Despite their penile appendages, I like to eat 'em (the sea version, anyway. I didn't know clams can be found in a river.) I grew up close to the ocean so we were always eating seafood. But I digress. This particular clam is not for eating, I hear. Or else it'll make a little boy weep.

I always love your stories. Keep writing, Phresh. (And I will keep reading them.) <3 <3

T.S. Welti said...

When you wrote that you used the cooking tongs to retrieve the clam, I thought this story would have a whole different ending. Glad to see I was wrong.

Yay for saving the penile mollusk! I am sure he and his friends happily poked each other when he returned to the river. :)

Sam Southworth said...

My favorite detail is the grass clippings you out in the box of the bunny who had been outraged by a cat. Such a sweet touch. And then I wept copiously for the tragedy of the world. In this clam's plight, I sense all of us. Who will put us back in the river, amongst the cool green reeds, where the healing waters flow endlessly to Mother Sea? May the River Goddess hold you in her soothing hands, Phresh! Hope you remember: paddle to the sea.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Good husband, sweet son.

Interesting that wiggling his penis saved the clam's life. I will write that down.

chefmlkim said...

We had a similar incident with a caterpillar. Bravo to those who help children deal with the potential tragedies of this world. :-)