My colleague Hamish offered to take a Belgian PhD student on a field trip to Aramoana, a beautiful site at the mouth of Otago Harbour (about 27K North of Dunedin) that is directly opposite the end of the Otago Peninsula. So of course I begged to tag along -- which meant completing the field-work induction course. (I am now stuffed with useless knowledge about what to do if I become hopelessly lost in a NZ forest or my van slides off the road into a bay). Anyway, it was a gorgeously warm and sunny day, and for my sake, the field work was combined with a search for the NZ clam tua tua and for cockles. The tua tua proved elusive, and unlike the cockles, which are in shallow bay waters, finding them requires immersion in the (frigid) sea. The fog also rolled in just as we started. But it was a wonderful outing, and we at least returned with a supply of cockles.
Beginning to dig for cockles on the mud flats.
Showing a tua tua clam (shell)
Plenty of tua tua shells -- but where are the live ones?
The fog rolls in ....
A Portuguese man-of-war! One of several we encountered on the beach.
Hamish and I emerging from sea, soaking wet and sadly sans tua tua.
Above: Chinese New Year festivities in Dunedin: Dragon Parade, Chinese Garden at night, fireworks. Below: dinner with companions from the SFO-Auckland flight on their brief visit to Dunedin; friend Fiona Stuart playing with ukelele group at the Intl Food Festival on the lawn of the Otago Museum.
First days in Dunedin. 1) Caleb Irvine being introduced to the Rob Roy Dairy. (Caleb is a junior at Harvard and younger son of my friends Ian Irvine and Judy Salpeter; he is coincidentally spending this semester at the University of Otago). 2) The famous clock tower building at the center of the university and,St Margaret's College, where our conference on eugenics in British colonial contexts was held the weekend of 7-8 Feb. (See blog post on the conference). 3) Abbey College and view from my living room onto the deck. 4) The traditional Sunday evening dinner on the deck at the home of my geneticist collaborator Hamish Spencer, his geologist wife Abby Smith, their younger son David and older son Ned. Alas, an expedition to collect Tua Tua clams, planned for Waitangi Day, had to be scrapped due to absolutely awful weather.
Speaking of weather, it is far more changeable than New England's. A spread of 30 degrees F in a day is common; e.g. today it was 45F when I left for the office and is now (late afternoon) 73F. The same day can include multiple periods of rain alternating with bright sun/cloudless skies. Needless to say, one learns to dress in layers. It is rarely hot, but even when it reaches the mid-80s, the humidity is generally so low that one almost never feels uncomfortable.
A big surprise upon arriving at Abbey College, the postgraduate residence where I am staying: I had rented a "large studio" room, but the young man who provided an orientation on my arrival led me to a fairly small bedroom furnished only with a bed and night-table. It did not look at all like the photo of the rather spacious room with separate sitting area that I thought I had rented. When I mentioned my surprise, he said, "oh, they decided to give you the living quarters recently vacated by the head of college since they haven't started the renovations yet -- you have the entire floor. So instead of a studio room, I have two bedrooms, a study, and a lovely living room/dining area and its own deck! (I also have a kitchen but as the contract involves full board, it's irrelevant). The food is so-so, but the atmosphere at the college is very friendly and because it is a converted motel, has a sauna, hot tub, and swimming pool. Best of all, it is only a half-block to the lovely Botanic Gardens, of which more about below.
THE DUNEDIN BOTANIC GARDEN/HILLTOP AVIARY
THE SATURDAY OTAGO FARMERS MARKET
An expedition to the wonderful Saturday morning Farmers' Market, which takes place next to the iconic train station (seen in first photo). Companions are Caleb and Ellie, a biochemistry postgrad from Iran and co-resident at Abbey College.
Kumi kumii is a NZ variety of squash. And "silverbeet" (near the back) is chard.
The Cricket 2015 World cup in Dunedin
In preparation for attendance at the first 2015 World Cup NZ-Scotland match tomorrow (Tues., 17 Feb), I was given hands-on instruction in the game by Hamish and Abby's younger son David, an extremely skilled (and patient) player.
A few photos of the match itself (a rout for New Zealand). In cricket, it is traditional to also applaud an excellent play by the opponent's team, and the fan waving the Scottish flag was not booed or jeered. However, Kiwi cricket fans have hated Australians since some game in 1981s when, to prevent NZ from tying a game, the Aussies bowled underarm, a move that while technically legal (in the sense that no one had thought to remove it from the rulebook) was not considered cricket. A "six" in cricket is awarded when the batsman hits a ball in the air beyond the boundary line before it comes into contact with the ground.
I was recently interviewed by Gail Blakely for her column in the Falmouth Enterprise, "Gourmets and Good Eaters".
Needless to say, I was more than happy to talk about one of my very favorite activities: clamming.
Here is the article, hot off the press.
One little correction: I said I gave away (not cooked) at least 90% of the catch, but otherwise she did a great job!
Download the article HERE