We were steps into our walk on the low-tide beach when I spotted a large clam.
A clam as big as a softball, left high and dry when the tide went out.
When I picked up the clam for a closer look, I marveled at its response ... a slow-motion closing of the gap between its two halves. What was an already narrow gap closed and the clam pulled itself together.
It was alive.
I walked to the water's edge and tossed it into the ocean ... little did I know it was not the only clam left behind.
A wicked storm
The day before we'd had a wicked storm. High winds and crashing waves.
Farther down the beach we saw another, then a few more. They were tossed and tumbled by the surf, spit from the ocean, forming a line as far as we could see.
There were hundreds of them. Atlantic surf clams sometimes known as bar clams, hen clams, skimmers, and sea clams.
I'd tossed one back into the ocean, but there so many ... too many to toss into the sea.
Would it be the right thing to do, anyway? How long would they survive out of water?
We didn't have answers to the questions we were asking ourselves.
But the questions kept coming
Without the storm surge, would the returning tide come in far enough to pull them back into the sea?
We weren't sure.
So we did what we knew best ... let nature do what it does. Tumble, toss, and confound us with its power, destruction ... and beauty.
Just as it did on that blue-sky day after the storm when it offered an all-day clam buffet ... to the seagulls.
This story was prompted by World Aquatic Animal Day listed on the free, weekly Story Starter Calendar.
If you're looking for things to do or practical writing practice, grab your free calendar. It's got something to think about every day of the week.
We never had a dog when I was growing up. There were a few cats, a snake even, but never a dog.
I can't even recall knowing any one dog all that well, but there came a day when I wanted one.
So I went looking for one, talked about getting one, did my research on bringing a dog home, and finally got one. A basset hound.
Why a basset hound? I think it was the ears. They have big, beautiful ears. Velvety ears. And they are solid dogs, well-tempered, and laid-back.
Unfortunately, they are not great about walking in a straight line, moving along from here to there ... at least not Agatha. Nope, she'd walk a few paces and stop. Sniff, move on, and stop again.
After reading the most popular and recommended books about having a dog, I understood the importance of daily exercise, and made sure we went out. Every day. We went in the woods and around the neighborhood, but it was always the same ... a herky-jerky trek from here to there.
Now, granted, I wanted a dog that was easy-going, but when it was time to get her out for some exercise, it became an exercise in frustration. For me and the dog.
The frustration, I realized, came from expecting Agatha to power walk, get moving, and do what I wanted her to do ... to go against her nature. Bassets are after all, scent hounds. Sniffing is what they do. Once I figured that out, I enjoyed our time outside.
What I learned
I learned to take myself for a walk first ... alone. And to accept what Agatha was teaching me ... to slow down and notice things.
In the coming weeks, I'll be releasing a new picture book, Things I Notice When I Walk The Dog.
It's a picture book memoir. Agatha's legacy ... and part of mine.
Think memoir's not for you?
If you think memoir is not for you, think again. People love stories and you've got some good noes.
Stories you can share in a collection or how-to book.
Remember, memoir is not an account of your entire life. It's the account of an experience or event where some kind of understanding, lesson, or insight occurred.
How did you get started doing what you do? What does someone entering the field you're in need to know? What do you wish you knew? Share it and help someone in the same position.
Have you completed a self-initiated challenge where you learned something you didn't expect?
What do you do in your spare time? Are you a mast chef, a marathon runner, or member of a band? What's that like? Let us know.
Your insights and experiences are unique. And that's why we want your take on how it's done and why it matters.
Once you get started, you'll be surprised a what you can share.
Writing about your experiences can feel self-indulgent or out of reach in the beginning, but you tell stories all the time. The challenge is putting them down on paper.
Want to ease into writing? Check out these new tools.
We went for a walk at the Audubon center this morning. It was an overcast day in an autumn landscape. At first glance, aside from the sweeping views of the field and the river beyond, it seemed there wouldn’t be much to see. At least not when compared to earlier in the season when so many birds flitted one way then another, flowers were blooming, turtles skimmed the pond, and the grasses grew tall and green.
Today the only green offered was harbored in the pine trees on the field’s edge. And it was unusually quiet. We spotted just one crow, another (unidentifiable) small bird, and in the distance by the river, a flock of seagulls. So many of the birds have migrated, the flowers and grasses have gone dormant, and there’s a chill in the air that seeks and settles in the gap of an open collar.
But there is beauty and intrigue to be found. Close up and at a distance if you look for it.
Red berries on bare twigs. The lilt of the marsh grass. And scat deposited on the edge of a well worn path. Yep, we’re talking poop. Pretty sure it didn’t come from a dog because they’re not allowed. And with all the berries in it, it was most likely fox droppings. Two sightings ... of poop, not the fox, unfortunately.
The walk was a bit of forest bathing; immersion in the natural landscape. Even though we weren’t in the forest, we focused on the landscape, the sky, the air, plants (and yes, poop), and nothing else. No worries about what to cook for dinner, the news, or impending chores. In return, we found what we were looking for ... calm in an otherwise hectic world.
We may not be able to visit or travel these days, but if we get out and explore what's close to home, there’s no telling what we might see and share ... in a letter, a phone call, or Zoom event.
Is there a park, walkway, stretch of beach, or field where you can go to get outside? Where you can watch, listen, and let nature wash over you? Go.
It will make you feel better and give you the scoop on new things to talk about.
A Nat Geo moment ...
The squirrel was wedged between the branches, munching on berries like it was seated at a buffet table.
We stopped to watch and at first the squirrel didn't seem to notice us. When it did, it took one last nibble and scurried away. We may have interrupted him, but I'm guessing there was a second seating once we were out of sight.
On our walks around the neighborhood, we see fewer people these days.
No wonder. It's colder now and the days are shorter. We have to push ourselves to leave the warmth and comfort of inside. To go outside for the fresh air, sunlight, and the occasional squirrel sighting we so desperately need.
Well, actually, squirrel sightings are not so occasional, there are a lot of squirrels in the neighborhood. Just not so many of them chomping berries.
A Nat Geo moment close to home.
Exploring the art and writing of short story memoir