NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 21, 2014

Rowley clammer basks in winter's cold

ROWLEY — There are some who can’t wish this winter and cold weather away fast enough, and then there is John Grundstrom.

An avid clam digger for many years and one of the town’s shellfish commissioners, he has found himself experiencing one of the most enjoyable winters ever — and he works outside everyday at the frigid ocean’s edge.

Grundstrom, 58, a lifelong Rowley resident, has been digging clams since he was 6 years old and making a living at it since he was 13, and that includes digging all winter in the harsh New England weather.

“People think that just because it’s cold outside, the harvest of fresh seafood in this area stops,” he said. “We still have to make a living and get out there and dig.”

Grundstrom figures he’s missed less than five days clam digging this winter, and only because big winter storms have diverted his attention to his snow removal business.

Clam digging this winter for Grundstrom has meant a 5-mile boat ride out of the Rowley River to the clam beds in Plum Island Sound until it was too frozen at the Rowley landing to do this. He then switched to heading out to the beds via the Parker River landing, and most recently, parking at Stackyard Road in Rowley and pulling a sled 1.5 miles to the water’s edge to get his job done.

The process is complete when he drags his sled, filled with about 150 pounds of clams, back to his car then delivers them to Savage Seafood in Rowley, where Grundstrom sells all his clams. These clams often make their way back to local stores, like Market Basket, for sale to residents.

Protecting from the elements is key, especially on windy days. Clothing includes five layers of Under Armor, regular gloves and rubber gloves, snowboarder pants with hip waders over and a snowboarding jacket, which is shed when the digging really gets going because the physical labor of the job increases one’s body temperature.

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