Jul
18

Lagooning

By

I’m aware that a month has passed since my last post — I plead the Summer Defense.  Heat, mental depletion, and lots of stuff to do with the energy I don’t have.

Did I ever mention that we have no air conditioning in our hovel?  Our first, second, and only line of defense is the lagoon, into which we have gone frequently.

Some evidence follows, just to reconnect with the outside world (my readers), even if I have no deep wisdom, or deep anything, to impart.  I’ve had to give up talking about Venice itself for a while because living here is like living in freaking “Groundhog Day.”  And when I begin to bore myself, it’s time for a big, big pause.

To start things off in a lively way was the unusually powerful "scirocal," or southeast wind, which roared through Venice for a while the other day. This was a refreshing change, as long as you didn't have to be on the water in any craft smaller than an aircraft carrier.

To start things off in a lively way was the unusually powerful “scirocal,” or southeast wind, which roared through Venice for a while the other day. This was a refreshing change, as long as you didn’t have to be on the water in any craft smaller than an aircraft carrier.

Case in point: Not aircraft carriers.

Case in point: Not aircraft carriers.  Lino and I have found ourselves having to traverse water in this sort of weather in a boat with oars.  One remembers only fragments of the experience due to the ungodly concentration such a traverse requires.

Much better -- going out at dawn (5:30, for the record) at LOOOOOOW tide. There must be clams out there and we're going to find them.

Much better — going out at dawn (5:30, for the record) at LOOOOOOW tide. There must be clams out there and we’re going to find them.

Or, to be more precise, Lino is going to find them.

What I mean is that Lino is going to find them.  He’s so good at it.

My job -- for which I have hired myself -- is to admire the view. By now it's no secret that I adore the lagoon at an exceptional low tide. It's like sneaking into somebody's house.

My job — for which I have hired myself — is to admire the view. By now it’s no secret that I adore the lagoon at an exceptional low tide. It’s like sneaking into somebody’s house.

Having found exactly zero clams in Place A, we rowed around to Place B, where the quest continued. I especially like this area because there's so much variety in the sediment. Among other reasons.

Having found exactly zero clams in Place A, we rowed around to Place B, where the quest continued. I especially like this area because there’s so much variety in the sediment. Among other reasons.

The mushy green area in the center of the picture is eelgrass. When the tide is high (and it's on its way right now) it floats like tresses.

The mushy green area in the center of the picture is eelgrass. When the tide is high (and it’s on its way right now) it floats like tresses.

Just pull the boat up and go exploring. Remember that the tide is going to begin rising before long, potentially floating your vehicle away.

Just pull the boat up and go exploring. Remember that the tide is going to begin rising before long, potentially floating your vehicle away.

Lino came across the first sea urchin I've ever seen in the lagoon (I've seen them on rocks). Happily, he did not discover it with his bare foot. People eat them, but it seemed pointless to take just one home, so we released it back into its habitat. Far from our bare feet.

Lino came across the first sea urchin I’ve ever seen in the lagoon (I’ve seen them on rocks). Happily, he did not discover it with his bare foot. People eat them, but it seemed pointless to take just one home, so we released it back into its habitat. Far from our bare feet.

Speaking of eating -- as one does -- we came across a few dauntless sea snails making a meal of a crab. Whatever birds passed by either couldn't manage it, didn't like it, or were driven away by the snails.

Speaking of eating — as one does — we came across a few dauntless sea snails making a meal of a crab. Whatever birds walked by either couldn’t manage it, didn’t like it, or were driven away by the snails.  And left only their footprints.

Lino went ut armed with a net bag to bring home the clams. But all he was finding were sea snails. Which were doomed.

Lino went out armed with a net bag to bring home the clams. But all he was finding were “noni,” or sea snails (Bolinus brandaris). Which were doomed.

Speaking of snails, however, it's turn about in the ferocious world of the lagoon. Lino loves them and there were so many lying around there was no reason not to bring home a mess of them. I use the word deliberately. On the bow, two Belon oysters. Those I really like, but there again, taking only two seemed a little melancholy. Back they went.

Which he displayed, briefly, on the bow, along with two Belon oysters (Ostrea edulis).  The lagoon is full of them but nobody is — inexplicably — interested in them anymore. I really like them, but there again, taking only two seemed a little too apex-predator for us. So after being booked and photographed, back they went.

Ditto for this little newcomer, called a TK. I've heard Lino mention them, but this was my first sighting. Immortalized, and returned to the primordial homeland.

Ditto for this little newcomer, a type of clam called a “longone” (Tapes aureus).  Not to be confused with “cape lunghe” (Solen marginatus).  I’ve heard Lino mention them, but this was my first sighting. Immortalized, and returned to the primordial homeland.

Another newcomer to my album: TKTK.

Another newcomer to my album: Vongola verace  (Tapes decussatus) — the shell slightly smashed by something, but still looking good.  You can recognize them by the darkish (or sometimes whitish) band around the flattish outer edge of the shell (among other distinguishing traits).  These are the native “caparossoli,” which are the acknowledged kings of the molluskian world, but if you don’t know what they look like you might be fooled by some other clam on the menu, presented — how may I put this? — under false pretenses.

Lots of half-buried fan mussels (Atrina fragilis) swathed in eelgrass, like Mollusk-henge.

Lots of half-buried fan mussels (Atrina fragilis) swathed in eelgrass, strewn about like Mollusk-henge.

When the water is high, you try not to row over them. In case you find out too late that the water's not quite high enough.

When the water is high, you try not to row over them —  you can find out too late that the water’s not quite high enough when you hear a little scrape or crunch under the boat.  Not good.

Rising tide is also nice.

Rising tide is also nice.

How can I put this?  We found just about everything except clams.  But we had a great time visiting the neighborhood.

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Categories : Water

Comments

  1. Caterina B says:

    How fun to have such an intimate relationship with such a famous place as the Lagoon! I wonder if it is polluted? Sorry to ask, it’s just that most places are these days. Does all that water make the cold moister, therefore feel colder? I assume that fishermen get their fish to sell from the lagoon, also.
    I also do not have air conditioning but a 7,150 feet elevation in the mountains of CO, one doesn’t miss it!

  2. Yvonne says:

    So, how did you prepare those sea snails? I’m imagining a sauce with garlic.

  3. Erla Zwingle says:

    Throw them in a pot full of cold water and salt, boil them 40 minutes. Then you just eat them naked like that, digging them out with a toothpick. Or, you can dig them all out and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and oil. No garlic, which we all recognize as weird. When we cook the land snails (“bovoleti”) of course they get the oil and garlic treatment. I can’t explain it, I can only report it.

  4. Erla Zwingle says:

    I forgot to mention, I hate them. I never eat them. A mouthful of rubber with a weird taste. I love the bovoleti, but Lino gets the “noni” or “garusoli” ALL TO HIMSELF.

  5. Rob C says:

    Thanks for this little peek into your life, to you ‘another day’, to us a glimpse into the life not lived!

    Rob

  6. A.Jonsson says:

    Hi Erla,
    What wonderful pictures, as usual. I would love to go rowing in the laguna with no hustle and bustle of other traffic. Maybe 5:30 in the morning is just the time for that. Thanks for another glimpse of Venetian-ness. You might bore yourself but I for one really love your accounts of life. It maybe just another day in just the same old town to you but to me it’s a pleasure to read.
    By the way, I’ve just developed a new Venetian dish. Baccalà mantecato for people who don’t like the taste of baccalà mantecato. I totally ruined it and it doesn’t taste anything whatsoever.

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