Monday, July 4, 2016

Spitting out pearls

I have eaten enough mussels and clams over my 35 New England summers to recognize the distinctive and unpleasant crunch of a bivalve with a belly full of sand. But last night was different: When I bit down on an orangey mussel, I felt not the crunch of sand between my teeth, but something hard and solid, like a rock, and spit out,

“A pearl!” I exclaimed to Brian and our friends who were joining us for dinner. “I found a pearl in my mussel!”

Actually, I found two pearls

I marveled at it, snapped its picture and passed it around—no one seemed to mind that it had just been in my mouth. It was a dainty thing, but pretty, and large enough to maybe be called a seed pearl. I immediately started to wonder whether I could somehow wear it as a necklace. A few minutes later, I bit down on a second, smaller one.

Pearls are formed, as most of us know, by an irritant that sneaks its way into a mollusk's soft body. As a defense mechanism, the animal adds layers of the same substances it uses to make its shell until eventually, a lustrous pearl forms. That something beautiful could grow from the unexpected and unwelcome is a lovely idea. May we all be so resourceful as to make pearls from pain, to make lemonade from lemons.

Lately, our personal pearls have come in the form of our family and friends, who rallied around us this winter after Chloe’s latest surgery. I’ve written about it before, and she’s had surgery before, but this one was particularly rough, and I can’t stop thinking about it. We have had a humbling amount of help from family and friends over the past few months; so much that I get overwhelmed with emotion knowing that I could never, ever repay them all or thank them adequately.

Instead we’re left to simply enjoy their company, and that’s what we did this weekend, when we had our friends and their little girl over for a July 4th clambake in our backyard. We had a sprinkler and sparklers; clams and mussels and grilled corn laid out over newspaper; and s’mores by the fire. And in the midst of it all, I bit down on something hard and spit out a pearl. Happy Fourth of July! 


  1. Wow! That's amazing! Great friends like that make the world go round! Look at those happy lil' faces! You're an amazing friend too! You reap what you sow! :)