As kids we had millionaire dreams, convinced we were going to strike it rich and make it big. We were summer locals at the ocean. We had two dozen small ways to make money. Every once in awhile, something would come along that looked like it could be a big deal, the start of a fortune.
I don’t remember where we heard it, but someone said pearls also form in blue mussels. We were polite, we listened, and the very next day, at low tide, we crossed the river where the rocky mud flats had a billion blue mussels. From our sandy side of the river, the opposite shore was blue like blue jeans.
Three of us went with hammers and pails, and if you could have heard us talking, it was all about what we could do with the cash we would get for all the pearls we were about to find. Truth, our dreams and expedition lasted less than an hour. We found out quickly that pearls weren’t abundant, in fact, three kids going at it full steam found no pearls. We just created a lot of fish and seagull food.
Fast forward 50 years. Sometime in the last decade, the ocean changed and the billions of blue mussels that covered the rocky Cape Elizabeth shore suddenly in a few years vanished. Yes, you can still find a dozen or so in a 10 x 10 foot square, but surfaces that were covered shoulder to shoulder with blue mussels are gone.
We send dozens of emails and every once in a while we send one and get letters objecting to something we’ve written. Two things, I suspect, might draw comments from this email: three kids hunting for pearls in blue mussels in the 1950s with hammer and pail, or two, suggesting that global warming might be real, and that our oceans are changing, the water is warmer, and that might be the cause of the blue mussel collapse.
I suspect, either or both of these stories might touch a sensitive area. The first story is true. The second story…the scientists are working on why life in our oceans is changing. Evidence that blue mussels are still around can be found at the Good Table Restaurant in Cape Elizabeth, as Lisa makes her rounds citing specials and delicacies, she will still say, “And yes, of course, we have blue mussels from Bangs Island.” Lisa’s recitation of specials is half the reason we go. Her delivery is one of the best live performances in the Maine restaurant scene.
Lucky thirteen blue mussel shells lined up, head to tail,
each individually linked and independently articulated,
with a bold easy to use lobster claw clasp.
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