Sunday, January 10, 2010

Of Standard Oysters & Mysterious Bottles

Last Thursday I attended another Economic Development Committee meeting. Paul Pilcher convened the committee to provide an update on the future town Web site. He filled us in on "Main Street Shops Association," which plans to organize an arts weekend June 18, 19, 20. The final topic was shellfishing and plans for a Community Shellfish Garden. We also examined the elusive quality of the Wellfleet oyster and discussed how to create a standard. There were lots of different points of view expressed, but Paul still managed to adjourn the meeting by 5:50. Fortunate for me, because Sven and I had a guest for dinner at 6. My new favorite bean, onion, thyme, and tomato dish was already simmering on the stove at my return home. Sven had set the table, so I sat at the computer and worked until I realized the time: 6:45!

“Nate’s late,” I said to Sven, unable to hide the concern in my voice. “Think he forgot dinner?”

“That seems highly unlikely,” Sven said. “Why not give him a call?”

So, I did. Nate apologized and said he’d be over in five minutes. He walked in with a grin and a tall, angular bottle. Sven thought the bottle was a gift, but no! Our friend had brought it for show and tell. Late that afternoon he had taken a walk at Ballston Beach, where the town had closed main access to the beach, due to recent erosion. While walking along, he spied a bottle stuck in the sand. How cool!

BLANKENHEIJM NOLET was carved around an emblem. Below the emblem Sven read the word “Schiedam.” That was when I realized the reason for Nate’s tardiness was this unusual bottle, which had caused him to become lost on the Internet. From his research, Nate told us he had concluded the uncorked bottle was made in Holland and once contained an alcohol concocted with gin and juniper berries. It was not clear whether the content, less than half on the shake-o-meter, was leftover liqueur, or simply seawater, and the date is still a mystery – late 1800s, perhaps?

How do you think this old clay bottle ended up on Ballston Beach?