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A Long Legged Dude

Story ID:6128
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Story
Location:Truro, Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2010
Person:Richard & Esther Provencher
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A Long Legged Dude

“Why don’t you boys come clamming with me?” grandpa asked.

“Not with my skinny big brother?” Matthew answered quickly. He liked having someone to tease, and maybe shy Travis could be his Victim today.

After parking their car, across the bridge on Caribou Island, three clam diggers headed cheerfully for the ocean.

A long sandy beach left behind from the retreating tide was perfect for today’s outing.

Near the end of October was the best time for clam digging, although it meant braving a cold wind. Each person carried a bucket to hold clams and something to dig with.

Matthew brought a curved shovel.

Travis had the loan of a short pitchfork.

Their grandpa couldn’t wait to try out his new three-pronged homemade spear. He also carried the largest pail.

“Grandpa thinks he’s going to get the most clams,” Matthew huffed. “I’m going to surprise him today.”

“I only want a couple for mom,” Travis said. He didn’t wish to admit he didn’t enjoy clam digging. “Besides, they taste yucky.”

“Stop complaining dude,” Matthew answered.

Above the visitors, Seagulls and Cormorants flew in circles. Ocean water rippled nearby.

“COOL!” Matthew shouted. “Two Ocean Quahogs! Right on top of the sand! I saw them first.”

Travis knew they were also called “‘Sea Clams.”

Matthew was quicker than a sea gull and rushed around searching for more. They dug eagerly when water spouts shot up from beneath the moist sand.

Matthew curled his lips, “Watch it!” he shouted. “See what you’ve done!” He picked up a mashed shell and held it to Travis’ face. “This is a waste of a good clam.”

He dug furiously, wanting to get more clams than grandpa. He was happy when Travis moved further along the shore.

“Now this place is all mine!” Matthew shouted. Except his hands were freezing in the cold wind. Now he remembered his gloves left behind in the car.

After awhile, Matthew looked up and noticed his grandpa working his way closer to the mainland. “Probably only baby-sized clams there,” he muttered.

Matthew didn’t realize the tide was coming back. But he kept finding larger clams in this new spot.

Time passed swiftly as the boy kept digging them up. Suddenly the ocean was lapping at his boots.

Why is grandpa waving? he wondered.

“Just a few more clams!” Matthew yelled, wondering if grandpa even heard. He continued to dig, as the tidewater kept returning.

The wind had changed direction, increasing in velocity. Sea gulls circled the returning tide. ERK! ERK! calls were warning sounds to other members of the flock.

But Matthew wasn’t paying attention. He was busy digging up a new group of clams. They did not seem to mind if the sand bar was covered in several inches of seawater.

Finally his bucket was full. Time to drag his heavy load to the car. He had collected quite a few Quahogs, Mussels, and Razor Clams.

Star-shaped and coin-shaped sea treasures lay on top, along with a few red sand worms. Matthew knew they would be useful to scare his classmates.

Once again, Matthew heard grandpa calling. Now he understood how much the tide closed in around the huge sandy bar. He answered frantically, “Coming! I’m coming!”

The wind carried those same words of alarm to Travis. He couldn’t believe how swiftly the space between sand and shore began filling with water.

There was a scared look on Matthew’s face, as he tried lifting the heavy bucket. He wasn’t leaving all this work behind.

Then the force of rising tide tipped his bucket over. And cold Atlantic Ocean water sloshed over Matthew’s rubber boots.

“Travis! Help me!” he screamed.

He knew he was responsible for chasing his brother away, by being mean to him. All he wanted right now was help returning to shore.

Some distance away, Matthew’s grandpa waded towards him.

“Don’t worry! I’ll get him!” Travis hollered. His long legs came in handy. Leaping strides across the water made him look like a running deer.

Except Travis was rushing towards deeper water. And danger. But, he had to help his brother.

Matthew stood still in the freezing ocean, now up to his knees. He was afraid.

As Travis reached his smaller brother, one firm grip heaved him onto his back. Thankfully Matthew wasn’t too heavy as Travis pushed through waist high water, towards shore.

Neither boy worried about leaving their clam buckets.

Their grandpa guided them back. He knew high points along the sand dunes would help both boys. Then he breathed a sigh of relief as he helped lead his grandsons to safety.

Everyone was wet, cold and exhausted as they fell in a wet heap on the mainland. Three sets of lungs gasped heavily.

“You’re really strong, dude” Matthew said.

“I had lots of practice,” Travis answered. “I’m the one who usually carries the heavy knapsack on our family campouts.”

Matthew knew grandpa figured he had just come through a bad scare. His brother probably saved his life.

Their grandpa wrapped a blanket over each of the boys. “Time for us to get you home and into dry clothes,” he said.

“Hey Travis?” Matthew asked.

“Wh…what?” Travis answered through shivering lips.

“I’m glad you are a long legged dude.”


© Richard & Esther Provencher