Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Christmas Stories: Legend of the Sand Dollar

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Christmas Stories: Legend of the Sand Dollar: Legend of the Sand Dollar   There's a pretty little legend That I would like to tell Of the birth and death of Jesus Found in this lowly...

Christmas Stories: Legend of the Sand Dollar

Legend of the Sand Dollar 
There's a pretty little legend
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell

If you examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman's Spear.

On one side the Easter Lily,
Its center is the star
That appeared unto the wisemen
And led them from afar.

The Christmas poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday
Our Happy Christmastide.

Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread Good Will and Peace.

This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me
To help us spread his Gospel
Through all eternity.

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Questions and Answers From an Oyster Shell

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Questions and Answers From an Oyster Shell:  Is there anything more perfect than an oyster roast on the beach with the sound of the surf in your ear? The warmth a bon fire warding off ...

Questions and Answers From an Oyster Shell

 Is there anything more perfect than an oyster roast on the beach with the sound of the surf in your ear? The warmth a bon fire warding off the first attempt of the winters season. Your custimised oyster knife hanging from your jeans beltloop via leather strap. Jimmy Buffet playing in the background as you quietly sip on the coldest beer known to man as you prepare yourself for the next batch thats almost ready to hit the table. The smell of oyster steam rising up like a thank you smoke signal to heaven.
     How about old Bowens Island Resturaunt  B.H. (Before Hugo, as all time in Charleston seems to be measured) and rightly so. With its missing side wall and bi-valves so fresh that they were probably filtering their lives away, going about their own business in a pluff mud world  about the same time that you were parking the car. Brought to your rickety card table from the fire pit half inside the room  on a snow shovel. The ONLY true use for one of those damn things. 
    Were there sweeter words ever written on the specials board at the Sandbar than "All you Can Eat" .
My wife and I had our first date there,  and once on my birthday I consumed 14 pans of the low country delicacies as the entire staff watched from the kitchen window. You could hear the groans everytime I started a fresh batch.Patiently they waited for the big bastard to leave so that they could close for the night.( God Bless You Darell)  Oysters will always make room for another one.
Sandbar Restaurant Folly Beach
Another Great Donnie Smith Studio's Picture 
    Living on Seabrook I once watched  from my balcony as a large cluster of the salty beauties grew into maturity in the creek behind my condo all that spring till fall.  I kept time sharpening my knife and waiting for the day, and by late November  they were ready. Putting on some old jeans and  a tightly tied pair of boots ,I waited for low tide to make my move. Wading hip deep in the tidal creek I soon attracted the attention of all the tourist in the condo, as I happily invaded the view that they had paid so much for. But my mind was set and my goal in reach and soon I sucked and sloshed my way to the long awaited treasure trove of salty-sweet redemption. Hammer in hand I  soon  had a burlap bag full and once I again returned home repeating a scene as old as time, the triumphant caveman with dinner in hand. As I washed and prepared tonight's guests of honor, my neighbors that week looked on in horror as I popped and ate the first raw one. Being raised with manners I offered all of our states most recent arrivals a sample but, it seemed no one liked oysters, or could it have been the mud covered person with a hammer and knife that turned them away,,,that's OK, more for me. I sat there that night watching them depart for Charlestons restaurant district, and I wondered how many of those very same folks were soon going to pay big bucks for what I was enjoying for free. I waved goodnight,threw another batch on the grill and covered them with a wet potato bag. 
Lord sometimes life is so simple.
    Oysters were put on the earth to teach us some very basic things.
      1.How simple things can be, and simple is always good.
      2. Never judge anything by appearance, or man would have never eaten the first one.
      3. Never say theres nothing to eat until you've checked everywhere.
      4. Never eat oysters in a state with no ocean and alot of sheep.
      5. Never pay for a mud bath when you can get one AND a meal for free.
      6. One mans view is another mans grocery store.
      7. Other than Christmas eve Santa uses that big red bag to store a buschel or two.
      8. How blessed we are to be who we are,where we are, when we are, with what we have.....

         "Give me oysters and beer for dinner everyday of the year, and I'll be fine"  J. Buffet

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole...: Stede Bonnets Pirate Flag Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole's and Provost Dungeon's :        Today I as I headed acro...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole's and Provost Dungeon's

Stede Bonnets Pirate Flag
Stories From The Carolina Coast: Pirate's, Pothole's and Provost Dungeon's:  

     Today I as I headed across the Breach (Breach Inlet to our guest), that narrow band of water that separates Sullivans Island from the Isle of Palms off the South Carolina coast. My mind began to wonder, as it has a habit to,  about the water I was crossing. Usually I look off in awe a the the green-blue sea as it pulled back from the coast at low tide, leaving behind it small islands in the mouth of the outlet and doubling the sandy bands of beach on the ocean side of both island. Gulls flew in to select their dinner in the shallows of the outgoing tide, While lines of surfscoter ducks float by on the water behind the breaking waves,  just outside the second sandbar. Potholes aside it's a pretty nice drive.
Stede Bonnet in Charleston
     Today though, my eyes and thoughts drifted to the other side of the bridge and to the small islands of sand  left by the retreating tide in the large estuary that fills the space between the mainland and the sister islands. Protected from the ocean and hidden from prying eyes, pirates often came to careen their ships. Careening is a process of removing barnacles form the hull of their ships to protect the hull and to increase the speed of a ship. A Vessel would be sailed onto a sandbar at high tide and left on its natural dry dock as the water reversed itself.  It would then be tipped from port to starboard as the parasitic mollusk's were scraped away.  It was here in 1718 that Stede Bonnet brought his ship the "Revenge" for repairs.
     Bonnet, known as the "Gentleman Pirate" was the son of a wealthy Barbados Planter and a retired army major, he's probably the only pirate to actually build his own ship, but he hated his aristocratic life, so off he went a pirating. While cruising the coast of Charles Towne, Capt. Bonnet met the infamous pirate Blackbeard, where he became a " Guest" of  the pirate captain. Together with a fleet of over 100 vessels, they blockaded the Port City, holding several politicians and prominent citizens for a ransom of medical supplies. Lucky to escape from Blackbeard's grasp Bonnet and crew sailed north to affect repairs before returning to the fray. While under repair he decide to forgo ancient maritime traditions that said its bad luck to rename a ship, as he changed it to the "Royal James". A choice he would soon regret.
     The people in Charles Towne, soon sent out a force to take revenge for the embarrassing ordeal , while they didn't find Blackbeard they did locate Bonnet. After a battle at the mouth of Cape Fear inlet in North Carolina, he was captured and brought back to stand trial in Charles Towne. Once here he was thrown into the infamous provost dungeon located on East Bay Blvd. You can tour the building including  it's dungeon where Bonnet pondered the last days of his life, only now you can do it in the comfort of air conditioning. The dungeon then was a hot, overcrowded, festering hole in the ground, where prisoners were left to rot while they awaited their fates. After an unsuccessful escape attempt. Stede Bonnet was found guilty of piracy  and sentenced to death by hanging. On December 10,1718 his head was shaved and he was taken to White Point Gardens on what now is the Battery to the spot where the Bandstand now sits. Here his sentence was carried out.
      Sometimes if you get the chance to cross the breach as you clear the thoughts of the days events from your mind. Look westward as the last strands of daylight sink behind the scrub oaks that form the maritime forest. Think about Bonnet and the pirates like him that plied their trade on the oceans around my hometown. Maybe one day If your be lucky, and if the tide is right, and your quick enough, out of the corner of your eye you just might catch a glimpse of  a great ship hauled over on it's side. Sails furled, cannons pointing to the heavens, black flag flying from her stern, quietly waiting her master's return.  Until then I 'll keep looking,,,,,,, potholes willing.
Stede Bonnet at the Battery

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poetry/ Lost In The Arms of Pawley's Angel

    Sunlight streaks across my face and brings me half way back from a reoccurring dream that I often have about the beach. I'm alone except the constant pounding of the surf on the sand . Sitting there as the warm summer breeze brings in the scent of salt from far away waters I feel content, at peace with both heaven and earth. I smile both in my dream and in the arms of Pawleys Angel.
     The Angel moves and sways beneath me in a motion that makes my mind flutter with the thoughts of a lovers embrace, tender yet strong, loving but always protecting. Quietly she whispers me back to sleep,,,,Shhhhhhh  she says softly, I've got you, all is right, all is good and for awhile I am  hers.
     People walk by and I feel their presence but I refuse to join them in the real world, the world of phones and bills and responsibilities.
The Angel is my home right now. Later yes maybe  later I will be an adult, but for  right now its just me and my hammock, me and my dreams, just lost in Pawley's Angel .

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Welcome To The Beach-Food For Thought


      First off let me welcome Y'all to the Beach. Please know that Y'all are always welcome. The first thing any good southerner does when guest arrive is to invite them in for a sit and offer up a big glass of sweet tea. Sweet tea of course being the house wine of the south. Secondly my father taught me that fed guest are happy guest and as such, allow me to serve up a little  chicken and sausage gumbo. Now I know that gumbo isn't  a lowcountry dish, but it is quintessentially southern and it's long been a staple in my house, and just damn good.      So sit back, enjoy a bowl or two and I'll try my best to tell y'all a tale or two about the sea islands of the South Carolina Coast that I know and love so well.

 World Famous Gumbo Recipe:
In A Large and I mean Large Pot
2-boxes of chicken broth
4-5 boneless chicken breasts cut up
2- packs of andouille sausage sliced 1/2 inch thick (Beef smoked sausage if you must) fry in a pan until they begin to brown and drain before adding.
2-cans of diced tomatoes, or 6 johns island fresh tomatoes diced
2-3 cups of chopped okra fresh if you have it, frozen if you don't. Start at 2 add the third cup if you need it.
3-large onions, cut into eights
4-stalks of diced celery cut 1/4-1/2 inch thick
2-medium green bell peppers cut in 1 inch squares
1-heaping teaspoon of granulated garlic
1- heaping teaspoon of black pepper
1-tablespoon of Thyme
1-tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (No substitutions)
- My wife likes 2 cans of drained red kidney beans- add if you like them
TASTE-TASTE-TASTE THEN, add texas pete hot sauce to taste, caution a little at a time to your pain thresh hold. Salt to Taste.

Lastly make rice 3- cups to 7 cups of water (mahatma the best I've found) bring to a boil in a covered pot then on low until all the waters gone. Put the rice in a bowl and the Gumbo on top.

                                                                               Serve With Cornbread!!                                      

Put all of the above on the stove and bring to a boiling/simmer then low/med heat for 35-45 minutes
Don't worry about how many it will feeds, just share until its gone.