I grew up in a house located one block from the creek in one direction and one block from the beach in another. On the way to that beach was my grandparents' and aunt and uncle's houses. So, I spent the majority of my childhood summers playing Marco Polo and making a tide pool in my aunt and uncle's pool with my cousins; at the beach catching baby crabs and swimming; eating my weight in lobster and steamed or fried clams or mussels in my grandparents' backyard screen house overlooking the creek; or out on my grandfather's boat fishing. (To the left here, you can see my grandfather, catch in hand. To the right, you can see me providing perspective for my father's catch.) All this is to say that at a very early age, I developed a deep love and appreciation for the water . . . and a neat set of flipper-sized feet. (Coincidence? I think not.).
That love of the water has stayed with me. Pictured here to the left, you see me as a young adult rope-swinging Jane-of-the-jungle-style into a river. And, to the right, that's me taking a surfing lesson in California. Nowadays, my seafood addiction leans more toward the healthier side (I opt to eat my fish raw most often instead of battered in tasty transfats), but it remains an addiction nonetheless. And I'm still utterly incapable of living somewhere landlocked, the thought provoking genuine feelings of claustrophobia - I may have moved thousands of miles away from where I grew up, but it's okay because I'm still near an ocean.
After my husband and I eloped (see us to the left seaside in Big Sur last October), we decided to have little post-wedding parties - one in California, where we presently live; one in Ohio, where he's from; and one in Massachusetts, where I'm from. Matt got to choose what we would do for the Ohio party, we compromised on the California party, and I got to choose what we'll do in Mass. Given what I've stated above, it should be no surprise to find out that I've opted for a clam bake (catered by Woodman's of Essex). When my grandfather passed away, we pretty much stopped having family get-togethers in my grandparents' backyard - my grandmother just couldn't bear it - so it's been a really long time since the whole family has gotten together to do something like this. I know we can't recreate the past, but I'm still really looking forward to doing this with and for my family and close friends.
Since I'm on the subject of water, I thought I'd also mention that I watched a National Geographic special the other night called "Most Dangerous Catch." It's one in a series they're calling "Strange Days on Planet Earth," hosted by Ed Norton. In it, they discuss and show how overfishing and improper waste disposal are affecting the delicate ecosystem of the ocean. They do a nice job of connecting all the players involved in the ripple effect. In the end, I was left wishing eating seafood wasn't so hard-wired into my sense of self, wishing again that I were strong enough to go vegetarian. (Yes, I'm starting to sound like a broken record.) I'm still not ruling it out; it may happen. Alas, for the time being, it's going to have to wait until at least after my party in Mass later this summer. The caterer is set and there's really nothing I can do to get that money back, . . . and I've been craving steamed clams and lobster for, oh, about a year now. What I will do from now on, though, as suggested by the NG special, is only buy fish that has been approved by the Marine Stewardship Council. If you're a seafood lover, I would encourage you to consider doing the same.