By the Shore

A feast for the senses

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I’m certain I wouldn’t love the taste of seafood so much if I hadn’t spent a good portion of my childhood summers eating freshly caught crabs, clams, mussels and oysters cooked to perfection over driftwood fires at our family’s beach on Lummi Island.

In my early teens, I realized any beach meat or fish we ate upon returning to Idaho from Washington at season’s end wouldn’t measure up to the feasts we’d incorporate into our daily meal plans while on vacation—whether it was Dungeness crab caught and collected in a trap via rowboat, butter clams unearthed during low tide, or sockeye salmon purchased directly from reef net fishermen on the other side of the island.

A side effect of sourcing the fare for these seaside soirees was getting to spend time exploring tide pools, gazing endlessly at Mt. Baker, learning to row, and discovering more about the land and water that surrounded us. I loved all of it, and eventually became a Whatcom County resident.

Bainbridge Island-based author and adventurer Nancy Blakey agrees that living near such sensory bounty compels one to appreciate it even more. In her new book, By the Shore: Explore the PNW Coast Like a Local, she not only offers up tips on how to catch and cook seasonal seafood, but also shares beach activities for adults and kids, talks about the basics of water sports such as paddle-boarding and kayaking, and gives ideas for outdoor adventure opportunities and travel itineraries—from paddle camping to beach hikes to road trips.

The journey to embracing her own region wasn’t a given. In the introduction to her tome, Blakey talks about how it wasn’t until she met a woman from the East Coast who expressed jealousy about Blakey living in the “back door of the Olympic Mountains” that she realized she needed to up her game when it came to appreciating what she had.

“Why didn’t I hike more?” she writes. “Why didn’t I plan a Sunday afternoon at the beach or fish for those beautiful salmon treading water outside my back door? I had no excuse; I have always loved the outdoors. Somehow it had slid away with the kids and the work and the never-ending list of things to do. But suddenly I wanted to own and honor the place the woman from the East Coast dreamed about; I wanted to know it intimately.”

At a trio of events planned around the Bellingham Farmers Market’s opening of its Wednesday Market on June 6 at the Fairhaven Village Green, Blakely will share what she’s learned about living a “bigger life.”

She’ll visit the market at 3:30pm to demonstrate one of the book’s recipes, then head inside to introduce Village Books’ new Regional Cookbook and Cooking Lit club, which will henceforth meet from 4-5pm on the first Wednesday of every month. At 7pm, she’ll be back at the bookstore to talk more about By the Shore. If you want a seat at the table, it’s already set. 

For more details about Blakey’s June 6 visit, go to

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