As readers will recall, this past weekend was the occasion of Wellfleet’s annual Oysterfest. It was a splendid event, as always. The weather was just beautiful – cool and crisp, with a deep blue sky and golden autumnal sunshine, and thousands of visitors were on hand, drawn to our charming seacoast village by the promise of happy company, good food, rivers of beer, amusing special events, local arts & crafts, and of course a limitless supply of sweet and succulent Wellfleet oysters, served up in every imaginable configuration.
One of the events on the crowded agenda was a spelling bee, which your humble correspondent was persuaded to enter. Though I am, if it doesn’t seem unduly immodest to say so, a damned fine speller, I did not prevail. After several rounds I found myself presented with a noun I had never heard of: a widely distributed aquatic plant known as the cabomba. I had no choice but to take a guess, so I offered C-A-B-A-M-B-A (with the voice of the departed Ritchie Valens ringing in my ears), and that was it for me.
What was the winning word? I’m sorry to say I don’t remember. There were several that were served up right at the end; I recall the eventual winner, a literate young woman named Maria, grappling with foraminifer, eutrophication, and minuscule, but I can’t remember which was the final hurdle, if it was in fact any of those. I imagine I was still swooning in stunned disbelief.
The first prize was a copy of Mark Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, which would have made a lovely addition to my library (I already have a copy of his excellent history of the codfish).
Oh well, there’s always next year.