We arrived in the early evening and once we unloaded our things, we wandered down the short path to the beach. The most beautiful scene awaited us with the last remnants of a sunset and a dense fog shrouding the beach. I longed to capture the unusual light but knew I would miss the joy of it if I ran back to the cabin for the camera. So we enjoyed watching the kids run up and down the beach and we chatted about Brian's summer travels with his family. He had only just finished recalling a vivid memory of collecting clams buried in the beach on one of the trips when his toe ran into something in the sand. Surprised, he brushed away the sand and picked up a small clam. Oh, the pleasure of serendipitous coincidences.
He tucked the clam in his pocket thinking he would enjoy it later as a little snack. Back at the cabin, he pulled it out and began to explain to Riker how to tell its age by counting the rings on the shell and how to crack it open to eat the clam within. Riker started to get upset and asked him to please not eat the clam. I reminded Brian that when we were in Murramurrang, Riker got very upset after Brian tried to cook and eat a witchetty grub (think fat white caterpillar). If you're cringing, note that these grubs were an important insect food in the desert and a staple in the diets of many Aboriginal Australians. This particular witchetty grub came to its untimely end when it crawled in front of our verandah while we were visiting with a family passing by. I might have worried what that family would have thought except the man, who appeared to be of Aboriginal descent, offered some insight on the difference in taste between raw and cooked witchetty grubs. Apparently they have a somewhat buttery texture when cooked, but I can report that they get rubbery when overcooked. After the fact, Riker felt very sad about it all and really wanted to keep watching the chubby thing crawl around.
So back to the clam in Narooma. Brian had mentioned that clams can live a very long time (507 years in fact) but was also trying to explain that humans eat animals all the time. Riker wasn't having it and he begged Brian to put it in some water or return it to the sea saying, "how would you like it if someone tried to crack open your house and eat you?" His pleas were very convincing and Brian set off in the dark to return the clam (with about 20 rings on its shell) to the ocean floor. Lucky little guy. Riker was so relieved and later I told him how I was moved by his concern for the clam and how I could see that he had a very kind heart. He just looked at me with a face radiating appreciation and gentleness and gave me a hug. Happy day.