Kris Kringle's Tomales Bay Idyll

He's arriving by boat, then spreading jolly cheer, at Nick's Cove.

CAROLING WITH THE CLAMS: We're fairly certain that if we saw Santa Claus pulling into Tomales Bay on a sleek skiff or kitted-out boat we'd only have one question on our mind: Was the Jolly Ol' Elf just paying a visit to the denizens of the wider ocean? Had he joined the clams for some festive singing of songs? Was he just participating in a gift exchange with the sharks? And do seahorses hang stockings and, if so, where? Upon jagged-edged coral? Santa, of course, must keep his sweet secrets, so when he pulls into the beautiful bay on Sunday, Dec. 6 we will forgo quizzing him as to whether whales leave out cookies on Christmas Eve or if shrimps decorate trees. We will, however, welcome him to the annual to-do at Nick's Cove Restaurant, Oyster Bar & Cottages, one that serves as both a food drive for the Marin Food Bank and as a kick-off to the season alongside the shimmery water. Make that very much alongside; Nick's Cove isn't just steps from the bay, it is on the bay, so much so that Santa'll pull his sleigh, er, boat, up to the property's picturesque Boat Shack.

WHAT FOLLOWS... is some visit time with the man in red, and cocoa and treats, and professional snapshots that are gratis (as is the cocoa and as are the treats). There are some for-sale bites and sips, too, like winter cocktails and menu specials, so you can nosh away while awaiting Santa's grand Tomales arrival. Definitely bring a canned good donation (which also nets you a discount on the non-gratis goodies of the day) and definitely plan to spend a few hours enjoying the Marshall landmark. As for Santa's hours? He'll be on the water, and then in the house, from 3 to 5 o'clock, but the Nick's Cove restaurant'll keep serving hours going from 11 in the morning through 9 at night. 

SO WILL YOU QUIZ... Santa about what the sharks and whales and clams asked for on their wish lists? We like to think of Santa swinging by the Pacific, and calling upon some crustaceans and octopuses, before he makes for Marshall. Surely an octopus would love an eight-armed sweater for his present, and a seahorse a saddle. Does Santa keep a naughty/nice list for the beasties of the ocean? And are they all in the "nice" column? (Probably, except for the occasional grumpy grouper.)

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