ANYONE FOR PERIWINKLES?
I will start with this picture that I want you to identify. Where was the picture taken and what does it depict? There is a wharf and a beach shown, but can you name them? I'll answer these questions at the end, but now let's get to some Periwinkle talk.........
Last week I visited with a lobsterman who was Surf Clamming while awaiting to set his traps out again. This week, I met another lobsterman "fishing" for a different creature in the off season.....Periwinkles! Oh, you say, is there a market for these snails? The answer is yes, and I was told that there are about 25 Periwinklers who scrounge for these critters during the winter months. These snails don't migrate into deeper waters in the cold months, and are readily accessible. Periwinkles are not affected by the Red Tide since they are vegetarians. Amazingly, they don't freeze when left high and dry by the tide in winter. Not only that, but these creatures are not native. They came over on a boat, or migrated some how. They've learned to thrive on these Maine shores.
Some time ago, I showed a picture of a mass of these snails that would have been a nice catch (I show it again below), but this week the Periwinkle scavenger was lifting the seaweeds and hunting them down. By the way, I learned that Periwinkles the size of a nickel would fetch about 80 cents a pound (that means in the shell). These snails, when sold, must not have any growth on them.....no barnacles, no algae of any kind. Have I sold you on this way to make a living? And by the way, a license is required! To the right, you see the Periwinkle collector.
I talked to a friend over at the Sebasco Wharf where they buy these snails. I wanted to know the destination for these animals. I was told they are sold in Boston and NYC where certain restaurants may offer them on their menus. At one time, they were shipped to Europe where they are more commonly eaten, but not today. How many of you have eaten Periwinkles, or knew that you were eating them? I once tried cooking and eating them, but wasn't hooked on the taste.
Let's see.....it is snowing again, and patches remain on the ground. I checked out Chris' tree tapping and found several dipping sap. On the island, Red Maples are tapped since there are no Sugar Maples. A spile is inserted, and Chris has an ingenious way of hanging a plastic water bottle on the spile with a side insertion. I missed seeing Chris, but headed back down the island via the Orange Trail after flushing out a few deer. Chris had told me he saw a SawWhet owl on that trail, but I failed to locate that camouflaged bird. We've had some spectacularly beautiful days recently, but all I've shed is an occasional mitten. It is still chilly.
As for the picture to open this segment, it was taken on the east shore of Tenant's Island, bordering the harbor. You may note that few boats are heading out to sea these days, and there are piles of lobster traps everywhere. The wharf is still active to service those lobster men that still go out, and if you look closely you will see the Yankee, on shore covered with tarps. The beach in the distance is Bailey's Beach, a beautiful private beach north of the campground. The Periwinkler was fetching his snails on the east shore of Tenant's Island. I talked to him for so long that he warned me that the tide was coming in, and I better head back before I'd have to swim ashore! (He said he'd give me a ride if need be!).3/19/08 Ronnie and the Periwinkles.