Hooks for Cooks™

Brady's OystersWhile perusing a used book sale recently, I found a copy of the The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson.

Published in 1956 by Harper & Row, the book features Carson’s summer adventures with her little nephew Roger. There are fabulous black and white photos throughout the book, and Carson recounts the seaside and woodland discoveries they shared together. I really enjoy this book because I adore the seashore and spend as much time as possible there.

My children are getting a little older now, so admittedly it’s getting a bit harder to urge them out the door for a family hike or a day of beachcombing. There are so many commitments and so much homework! They want to sleep in or hang out.

This makes me a sad but we forge ahead nonetheless. I’ve written many shellfish stories over the years, and my children have always accompanied me while I did my field research. They’d be strapped on my back in a baby carrier or they’d toddle through the muck, sporting REI raingear and Wellies. They camped in a yurt and watched us make clam chowder from the clams harvested that day. When I boarded a small boat to tour the Penn Cove Shellfish farm, the kids strapped on their life jackets and came along for the ride.

During the summer, we clear the calendars, hook up our camper, and head to the Washington Coast where we stroll the long sandy beaches and purchase oysters at Brady’s Oysters in Westport. I always feel so lucky to be able to visit the shore and eat the pristine oysters, clams, and mussels plucked from the local tidelands and waterways. Our annual coastal campout is a fabulous family tradition and it’s one that my kids look forward to annually, even if they fight and squabble en route. For me, it’s become the nonnegotiable vacation.

With that, I’d like to share one of my favorite passages discovered in The Sense of Wonder:

“Down on the shore we have savored the smell of low tide–that marvelous evocation combined of many separate odors, of the world of seaweeds and fishes and creatures of bizarre shape and habit, of tides rising and falling on their appointed schedule, of exposed mud flats and salt rime drying on the rocks. I hope Roger will later experience, as I do, the rush of remembered delight that comes with the first breath of that scent…as one returns to the sea after a long abscence….”

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