Never ever have I been so excited about a boat outing. I love boats, I really do. But this time there was food foraging involved. We were going scalloping.
My dear friend Suzanah had invited us to join her family out on the bay of Port St Joe. We went out on her dad, Danny's, boat. The water was like glass in the early morning and the sun was already beginning to reach the end of its harsh summer glow. Indian summer was upon us and it felt good. Danny, a local fisherman and town resident for the past 30 years had so much to tell us about the water. I listened hard, trying to soak up his generous knowledge and his broad southern accent.
It was quite a slow season for scallops, he told us. Not quite sure what we were looking for, we snorkeled over the sand and through the sea grass searching for a find. I became fearful that we wouldn't find any scallops in the bay, but I was terribly excited when, after a quick trawl through the ocean bed floor, Danny came back with four little scallop shells nestled in his hands. Jakob, determined, went out and found one more. Danny then showed us how to shuck the scallops, to remove the guts and to keep the muscle. And then, like sweet raw sushi, we ate them right there on the boat.
The beauty of the bay struck me. How have I lived just a short few hours drive from this place and never been out on this water. We watched as fish skipped across its surface, found sea urchins and in the distance, the sugar sand glowed white. After scalloping we took the boat around the peninsular, walked on a dune island and had a swim in the shallow, warm water of the Gulf. On the way back to shore, my mum and Emily sat and talked, Jakob and Trevor had a nap in the sun, Danny steered the boat and I breathed and took it all in.
I am so grateful to the Raffield family for showing us a morning out on the bay. Foraging for food is my ultimate idea of heaven - and to learn the bays culture of harvesting scallops and to be shown a little of the lifestyle of the area put us all in a very happy, grateful place. Those five little scallops were the most delicious pieces of Florida that I have tasted.
It really, honestly, was the best boat trip. Ever.