The Golden Oysters Of Chincoteague Bay

On the road…again!

Afghanistan to Zambia

Chronicles of a Footloose Forester

By Dick Pellek

Discovering Chincoteague Bay

February 2012

The future excites us and stirs our thoughts about what the next adventures will bring.  While many of the older Chronicles of a Footloose Forester were about memories captured from a distant past, this one is just as fresh as the pot of cooked mussels and oysters we harvested from Chincoteague Bay a few days ago.  Most people don’t go wading for mussels in February, but we never tried to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to spending our time.  So, the steamed mussels that Thu cooked up were taste-tested before we decided what we would do with them.  The Ribbed Mussel, as one species among 17 edible mussel varieties, might not be found in seafood stores, but it will henceforth be a part of our eclectic diet.  They are not for everybody, however.  On the other hand, we have golden oysters here.  A few of them are shown in the photo below.




Chincoteague Bay and vicinity, along the northern border of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, has delighted us with other things that swim, fly and bounce along in front of our eyes.  Quite new to us are the prospects for catching croakers, eels, and crabs from the tidal pond across the road from our house; of seeing entire flocks of Canada geese sharing that same pond with Mallard ducks and a resident Great Blue Heron.  Once in a while, we even spot an American Eagle that sits on the branch of a dead pine tree that overlooks the pond. Yesterday, that family of water and land birds included a diving duck that may have been a bufflehead.  He or she will be in our binoculars, you can count on that.

On our side of the road, we regularly see black-capped chickadees, grosbeaks, cardinals, and bluebirds.  Imagine, bluebirds in January and February!  Then there are the occasional sightings of a grey fox that may live in the undeveloped plots of land adjacent to us.  Five deer that certainly make that forest patch their home spend some time each day on our lawn. They don’t always travel together, but sometimes they join with the herd of seven other deer that live on the other side of the pond.  It is quite a treat to see them at play on the front lawn; although they are too fond of many of our flowers, especially roses.    

As spring comes ever closer, we anticipate gathering oysters, mussels, and clams from a kayak; or by simply wading out from Cockle Point, less than a mile from our house.  Our new freezer is surely going to be full.

Thanks to Google Earth, we scout out likely places to wade out into Chincoteague Bay during low tide.  And a monthly tide table helps us to plan the days when low tide corresponds with mid-day hours so that the clamming expeditions can also take advantage of warm, sunny conditions. 

Our golden oysters are scattered about the property, literally all over.  Actually they are oyster shells spray painted with gold or silver, but since crushed oyster shells are so decorative, we fully intend to spread them about in the crushed-stone driveway, just as we have already done with the dozens of other shells we collected over the years in the waters off Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. 

Text from Steve by Torri Perkins
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