Sunday, August 9, 2015

We Love Clay at Blacks Creek!

Hey friends of Save the Harbor!

I am pleased to report that we have had the "most fun day EVER" at Blacks Creek! Some of our "regulars" reported that Tuesday's "clay-day" was the most fun they have had this summer!

Nothing began as it normally does on Tuesday. We had warnings of intense thunder storms, so only a few kids were dropped off. We got the news in the early morning, as thunder shook the ground, that the storms would cease and programming was still on, and we headed down to Quincy.

When we arrived, we noticed a particularly tempting low-tide situation. The kids caught an eel in the seagrass, and found over FIFTY hermit crabs in under fifteen minutes. We were able to stock our crab trap with four dead crabs and a sizable dead guppy that were stuck in the lingering beds of seaweed, abandoned by the fleeing tides.

Buckets in hand, we slipped out of our sandals and raced around the bend. Where the JPAs are in blue shirts in the background of this photo is normally as far as we can go (with our "no going past your knees in depth" rule,) but as you can see, Lucy and Jaimie are happily getting out of their shoes far beyond our normal stopping point!

Danny, Abdi and Bell and the background with Jaimie and Lucy holding their nets!
When I saw the clay, I was transported aback to my own childhood on the Long Island Sound. I could smell the nutrient-dense, goopy mud as it seeped between my toes and for a moment, I was seven (and my sister was five) and we were romping around the tide pools on summer vacation! Looking at Lisa and Nina, who are sisters, I was brought back from past to present. Scooping up a hand-full of muck,  I couldn't help but make a memorable mud-ball with them!

A camper and their quahog!
Tossing our mud-balls!
This clay is incredible because it is bursting with biodiversity. Exposed only rarely, it is a real treat to get to pick through it and find all of the amazing creatures that take advantage of this soil! After pulling out six or seven sea-worms, I filled up a small bucket with clay. Along with sea worms, we found plenty of quahogs at the surface. (We had no trouble finding dozens and dozens of small clams to look at and talk about!) We returned to the shore and I worked with the clay for a few minutes to see how well it hardened, dried and stuck together. To my delight,  I figured out that it was excellent clay for figurines! Despite the smell, there was something irresistible about pulling the clay apart and rolling it into different shapes and sizes. Below, we spread it across a smooth rock and carved drawings and messages into the clay. 

Carving our drawings in clay!

The day ended with each kid leaving with a small sculpture. Danny, Bella, Abdi, Jessie and I would start the clay figure for the kids (a starfish, a shark or a dolphin, usually.) Then, we would hand them a rough version and let them detail out their own sea creature. We would talk to them about the anatomy of the creature, and help them pick sea grasses or pebbles to texture fins and eyes and scales on their artwork. It really was a day to remember, and I can't believe our last week at Blacks Creek is starting so soon!

Me, Bella, Explorers and Mud Hands! 
I can't wait to see what Monday and Tuesday hold for us, it has been a truly remarkable summer. Thanks for bringing us so much adventure, kids of Quincy, we are enjoying every minute of it!
Keep getting stuck in the mud!

Carolyn House

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