Oh, best beloved, I will tell you a story: the story of a special clam. On a lake in northern Michigan, (I’ve promised not to tell which lake) lived a clam. A clam named Charlie.
Now Charlie was kind of a different clam. Do you know how clams move?
Clams have a single large muscle, called a foot, which they squeeze out between the two halves of their shell. They stick this foot out, and very much like snails, they scrunch it out between their shells, and either push their shell backwards a little, and then move their foot and push again, or they pull their shell forwards, and then move their foot, and pull again. This way, they move along the bottom of the lake or river they are living in. As they go along, they suck water through their stomachs, and using filters they have, they filter out little things that live in the water, and other nutrients, and that is how they eat.
Now Charlie was a little different. Oh, he ate pretty much the same as the other clams. But Charlie liked moving fast. He was into speed. He liked going fast. Most clams move 6 inches a night, or so. Charlie could go 6 inches a minute. While most clams thought they were going fast if they kept up with the rocks, Charlie actually whizzed by rocks. He travelled by little jumps with his foot. Kerchump! Kerchump!
The other clams did not understand Charlie. “What are you doing?” They would ask. “You are going to get yourself keeled.” They would say.
But when he tried to explain how he felt about going fast, they would close their shells, and go to sleep.
One day, Charlie bumped into one of the older clams by mistake. “Watch where you are going!” It yelled.. “You are a menace to our society.” It exclaimed. “You shouldn’t go bumping into others. I don’t want to see you zooming around here anymore.”
Charlie had to go practice his speed corners behind the old boat in the shallows, so that no one would see him.
Pretty soon, all the other clams were not talking to him. When they felt him coming — his footsteps were very distinctive, they would just clam up.
One advantage to liking to go fast, was that Charlie didn’t have to stay in his old neighborhood. And he got to see a lot more of the lake than any other clam he knew. There were thick weed beds, where there were lots of algae and little microscopic water critters to eat. There were rocky shoals with cold water rushing around them and the water critters were better tasting than in other places. There were warm, shallow sand bars, and deep dark
depths, and Charlie saw most of them and could go there when he wanted to. He
especially enjoyed cruising past the mussel beach, going faster than any of
the mussel bound guys could go.
One day, Charlie noticed a stream he had never seen before and decided to explore it.
A little way up the stream, he saw another clam. She was actually bouncing. This was interesting, because none of the other clams he’d ever seen was even slightly interested in going fast, let alone bouncing. This is how he met Climina.
Climina like to bounce. Her mother was driven to distraction. She’d think, “What is that girl up to now?” or she’d declare, ” She’s never going to amount to much, if she can’t keep her foot on the ground!”
The closest most clams got to bouncing was a dignified wiggle.
Climina’s mom would say, “Calm down! Climina!” and “Climina Anne! Stop bothering the neighbors!” When her mom used her middle name, Climina knew she was really pushing her mother’s patience. But Climina just kept right on bouncing. Sometimes, she’d even sing while she bounced. Up and down. Up and down. Happy as a clam.
Anyway, Charlie saw this other clam bouncing up and down and bounced up
next to her.
“Hi,” he said. “What ya doin’?”
“Bouncin’,” she said. ” I like to bounce. My ma always tells me to stop it, cause I’ll get in trouble, but I like to bounce and I don’t see how it could hurt anything. Do you?”
“No,” Charlie said. “I like to bounce, myself, but I have to hide behind the old boat when I do it, because it makes the other clams mad.”
“They are just old stick-in-the-mud’s,” she said. “I think its fun.”
“Hey, what is your name?” Charlie asked, “My name is Charlie.”
“I’m Climina,” she said. and then she giggled.
“Are you one of those strange clams my mother has always warned me about?”
Now Charlie knew he was kind of a strange clam, but he didn’t know if he was
the kind that Climina’s mother had warned her about.
“I don’t know,” he said, “Maybe we could go see your mother and she could tell
us if I am.”
So Climina and Charlie bounced off to the shallows, under the big willow
tree, to see Climina’s mom.
“Hi, mom,” Climina cried, “look what came up the stream today!”
“Oh, God,” Climina’s mom thought to herself, “what has Climina gotten herself
She rolled her eyes and waited.
“Hi, Climina’s mom. My name’s Charlie. I like to go fast, and your daughter likes to bounce.”
“I’d like to take her for a spin around the lake, if that’s ok with you?”
“Well, I suppose, if you can keep up with her, you can sure try to take her on a date.”
As you can probably guess, Charlie and Climina hit it off right from the start, and pretty soon it was evident to everybody that they were a permanent couple and should set up housekeeping. It was quite a shock to most of the inhabitants of the lake, because you never knew when or where you would run into them — or as more likely, they would run into you.
And it soon became evident that Climina and Charlie’s children were learning tricks no other clams had ever learned.
And if you find yourself on this lake, along about the time the sun slips gently over the horizon, and dusk settles softly over the water, if you hear a plip-plop and see a slim shape almost break out of the water, it might not be a fish jumping.
It might be clams.
And remember this story, and know that Climina’s and Charlie’s children are learning tricks no other clams have ever learned.
This isn’t the end of the story, either. The last I heard, some clams have actually been spotted jumping above the surface of the water.
And Charlie has been spending a lot of time looking over the new jet ski boats that a couple of homes have had docked at their beaches.
And Climina has been watching birds fly.