Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Eve

     Well here we are on the verge of another Christmas Eve. As we look back on another year that seemed to once again be over almost before it had a chance to begin. Its easy to look to the future and just let the past slide from our thoughts. Another in a long line of chapters that make up the universal book of history that is our lives story.
     On moments like this, It's important for us to stop for just a few minutes and take this time that we hold so precious and use it to file away the reflections of all the things, both good and bad that we have had the good fortune to have witnessed as we continued our journey toward destiny over these last few months. 
      Stop just long enough on life's highway and make a memory of how we got here, of those we were blessed to have met, and especially of those whose journey ended all too soon.
      Regardless of our religion,our politics or our personal beliefs, remember that for the past 12 months, despite all our differences, we all share the same wishes and dreams of love and hope and health for our family and friends. 
     Merry Christmas to all my Facebook friends and family. My wish for all of you is that maybe, just maybe with a little luck . We will all be blessed to find ourselves right here once again, next Christmas Eve. With the same opportunity to stop and make a memory out of what I know for you will be a happy and joyous 2013.

R. Sweat

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poetry/ Rainy Grey Days

I walked out the door this morning to the smell of cord wood burning off in the distance. Like a memory it lingered, the only physical reminder of all that was, just a night before. 

The cool damp air held the scent, bringing back a rush of memories from bonfires past and time not wasted on friends. Their names and their faces forever young and always with me.

Somewhere, out on the edge of perception a train rumbles toward its destiny with time, the rhythmic thumps providing a baseline to my now small town life. I feel it move away, leaving me in its past.

If the future is for the young, and the past given to the old, then surely Rainy Grey Days must be reserved for those who dream one last time, of what might have been, what should have been or what could be once again.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Poetry: An Angels Shadow

   Its been long since I  lived in the light
Ever more content to be in the comfort of her gentle shadow
I inhabit a world made whole and home by the depth of an Angels  love.
Her breath fills me with life, as my heart waits to beat at her command
Allowed to be, only by a grace born of a creature not meant for this earth
   I move around her on the darkened edge of a world lit in brilliance by her smile
Her spirit moves, and I move, wanting, longing, always to keep her touch
Heavenly light envelops and holds her form as my eyes strain to see and I am jealous
She passes and I feel the moonless tide shift and with it she turns her grace on me
I see the light of long darkened stars in her eyes as she takes me by the hand
Once again I walk in her light and see with eyes opened wide with hope
    She whispers my name, and I follow, she kisses my lips and I am hers

Friday, November 2, 2012

Moon Walker

    The shrimp boat slid into Charleston harbor. Its distinctive white hull outlined against the orange red of a setting Carolina sun. The only sound came from the squawking feathered multitude of gulls that swirled and dived for their dinner. It was a sight he loved no matter how many times it was repeated.
     From the Battery he walked past the old ghost of mansions that fronted the harbor and East Bay. Greek revival palaces built for the shippers and growers of Rice,Indigo and Sea Island Cotton. Through their gates of wrought iron adorned with pineapples and rope he could see a joggling board waiting and hoping for just one more young couple to come courting.
      Walking  over the cobblestones that had come from all over the world as ballast in the hold of merchant ships from centuries past. The well worn stones of every color had finally found a home. Much like all the people who now call this port city their own they are now and forever a part of the fabric of the old town.
       Darkness came and with it the city began to whisper, calling to one and all to embrace its seductive sirens call. The musk of her age mixed with the sweet scent of magnolias and gardenias from her hidden gardens and the aroma of 5 star restaurants that wafted in the breeze as he made his way down old Market street.
      A horse and carriage moved down Meeting street with the ease of a scene that had been repeated for 300 years. The guide gossiped of revolution ,hurricanes, and pirates,but  he knew that if they rode all night. He still couldn't tell Charles Townes story. The first chapter would have to do tonight. Pointing out earthquake rods on  buildings, he tipped his hat as he passed, before making his way toward White Point Gardens. They faded away into the night until all that was left behind was the sound of hoofs taping out a secret love song from the past.
      Passing under oak trees that had greeted the first settlers, he came to his church just as a wedding was ending. The strains of organ music lilted away to be replaced by the sound of joy and love and forever that filled the night. He slipped through the crowd almost unnoticed as rice filled the air and turned to walk through a small side gate and then behind the large white stone walls.
      The night was almost over now. Salty sea air blew in from the harbor and it passed right through him as it cooled the fresh cut grass where he laid. Silence had returned to his world. From above a crescent moon looked back down on him for the last time this month and he was already missing it. It would be back and then so would he. As he closed his eyes and began to fade away into the first rays of morning light he was already planning his next walk around the old town.

                            R. Sweat

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poetry/ Last Look Back

     He thought for a moment. How long have I been here? As the last rays of the failing Carolina sun warmed the back of his neck and cast long shadows that streaked across the sand dunes in a race toward the darkening waters of the Atlantic,it seemed that all time had stopped
     He looked on as two children played in a tidal pool. Their bleached white hair once short in the spring now caressed shoulders tanned nut brown by the long days of a seemingly endless beach vacation. From afar a mothers voice says its time to go. But its only her promise of a return one day that finally tears them away from their kingdom of sandcastles and seashells.They were now children of the beach for evermore and they left  behind not only their fortress in the sand, but also a small piece of themselves and their childhood for mother nature to reclaim on the next high tide. Blending their souls with all those who have come before into the  tide line of life that stretched from here to eternity.
     He missed the beach umbrellas that had once lined the shore like so many colorful Christmas ornaments stretching as far as the eye could see. Havens for families that had used them to escape the relentless rays of sun, life itself seemed to began and end in their embrace Now cleaned and packed away they left no trace of the world as it had been. Only a landscape of ghosts and memories drifted in the September air,as the last hallow sounds of laughter faded on the cooling breeze, leaving only the  rhythmic tide to fill the void.
      He felt the presence of his father and grandfather move beside him and as they all stood looking out toward the horizon,the days last light had left the world of Summer behind in blends of orange and scarlet and colors not yet named by man. Soon a crescent moon would ascend to crown the Lowcountry sky. A God sent tierra brought down by angels and left as a gift for all  of us blessed to call this land our own. It was then he knew. How long had he been there,,,,,forever.
    From the North  the wind began to whisper. making the salty sand stir, gently at first it spoke the words that no one wants to hear,,,,,Summer is over.

                R. Sweat

Monday, July 16, 2012

Poetry/ FOG

    The boat moved deeper into the fog. All alone I put paddle to water, trying to make my way into this strange and foreign world . Slowly I lose my bearings of all things human as foreboding shapes move toward me only to brush away and disappear once again into the pale. Ever changing, they offer only a promise to be, something., anything before they slip away again into a lie of illusion. Taking with them all hints of hope and home and safety. It occurs to me that its time past that floats by on the water below me and I sense the growing distance between life and myself.
    The world has drifted into silence and even my heart now makes no noise . I think of  my friends and family and wish I could go back, but thats not meant to be, this day. Move on, move on, I must move on. Through the mist and into the endless nothingness; ahead through my dreams, ahead through my nightmares, ahead into what was always meant to be.
     Colder, I feel the fabric of the fog sink into my skin, blend and become a part of me and  my movements slow as it takes control. The frosty white blanket invades my body and brings with it the first welcoming  thoughts of  the long sleep to come. I try to shiver, to shake off the chill, but I am no match, and for the first time I am forced to accept the idea of a world without tomorrow.
     Drifting now the boat is on its own, no longer am I its master. Deeper and deeper into this clouded nether world I am bound by fate to travel. I feel all illusion's of control leave my clouded mind as the paddle slides slowly from the   now still hand of the living world and  down into unknown depths of the next below. I don't mind,  I know that the boat has taken me as far as it can, fore I must take as we all  must,,,, that final journey alone,,,,

                                      The fog and I are one.

                                                                                                R. Sweat

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Poetry / A Coastal Love Song

   Sitting on the edge of the world I find myself under a night sky dominated by a crescent moon that sits like a promise on the edge of the horizon, A tease she calls to me with the lure of adventure, and the promise of forbidden romance.
   Eyes closed, my body knows as the tide begins to shift from ebb high as it begins it's everlasting journey, from my back yard to the Atlantic and to all points on the compass.I feel a sense of loss as it slips away and I miss her already.
    Surf sounds to a rhythm as it meets and mates with the land in a dance as old as time itself, sharing its sirens song of love with anyone who will listen, beckoning, seducing for me to follow.
     Moist taste of the night air fills me, becomes part of me with every measured breath. Every gulp of air I take blends all that I am with all that I want to be. The salty world around me heavy on my palate. If the world had only one flavor, this would be it.
     Every wave sending the scent of promises kept and broken deep into the  Carolina night. Heavy with the musk of desire it moves my thoughts to wonder how many others have sat here on the edge of heaven and wondered if it could get any better.

            Nothing could be finer, than to,,,,,Well Y'all know the song....

                                                                                R. Sweat

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bridges In Time- A Lowcountry Timeout

Ben Sawyer Bridge
      Sitting on Sulivans Island the other day waiting for the Bridge to close, I couldn't help but think of how rare it is in this hyper-speed world that we are forced to re-evaluate our life and direction by A technology that has been around longer than the City we live in. Ahead of me through their car windows I saw a line of impatient drivers and passengers alike all hooked up to their smart phones, completely oblivious to to the very scenery they traveled so far to see. It occurred to me that as the quality of the bridges have improved its had the effect not of bringing us closer together but just the opposite. Its given us a quicker, faster way for us to reach an end, not a beginning. There seemed to be a direct correlation between the improvement to our bridges and the distance from our peace of mind. 
     Being a coastal people, Charlestonians would find it impossible to drive fifteen minutes in any direction and not cross some body of water. Surrounded as we are by the many marshes, rivers, creeks and of course the ocean, we often don't stop to think about how special this land is.  Like Venice we are a city of Islands connected to one another by a spider weblike network of bridges that most of us never notice or most certainly take for granted.
    The Cooper River(Ravenel), Limehouse,Wappoo cut, War Memorial, Ben Sawyer, Stono, Grace memorial, Wando & Westbury bridges tie our community and each other together like a hand sewn quilt. Smaller bridges; Noisette, Ellis,Breach Inlet and Penny's creek along with numerous others complete the fine detail stitching that completes the bond holding all of us together not just as a city but as a community.
Stono River Bridge
     Weather in the Lowcountry is a fickle thing at best. Seasons seem to come and go on a whim and not at the command of any calender. I have as a kid learned to judge where we are on our yearly seasonal journey by the color and growth of the marsh grasses. Many times I would sit in my car waiting for the Stono Bridge and look out over the marshes and it always struck me as a much better and certainly more personal way to judge the onset of spring or fall. From the old bridge you could smell the salt water and hear the wind in the rigging of the sailboats at Buzzards Roost Marina. Now the Stono has been reduced to nothing more than a bump in the road on Maybank highway.
Old Cooper River Bridge
     Anyone who ever drove across the Old Cooper River Bridge knows the sight of scared tourist white knuckling their way from Mount Pleasant to Downtown, and we would all be liars if we didn't admit to the anxiety that even the most stout of heart must have felt on a quick descent into the first corner. The old bridge dangerous as it was did though bring everyone and everything in our cars to a church like silence for a short time and I can attest to more than one "Thank God" or "I love you" was uttered at the critical moment. I bet that today our kids I Pods would go silent, and all cell phones would go unanswered if we still had to cross the old Bridge. Now the scariest thing about the new bridge is trying not to wreck or get caught by your wife as you check out the girls who run the bridge to and from town on the running/biking lane.
    Sitting one day at the Wappoo Cut bridge I remembered my my dad telling me about taking the cable cars from downtown Charleston out to Folly Beach and Sullivans Island when he was a kid. Sitting in a cable car they would have lunch as they crossed the marshes on railway bridges just feet above the water on their way to the beach. His family would take up the entire car and they used the time to talk about their week or tell tales about the islands and look for the migration of the fish and fowl that permeate our local land and waters as they make there way across our coast.
Wappoo Cut Bridge
     My personal tie to the Wappoo Cut is one summer when I went with a group of friends and we spent the day jumping the 40 plus feet from the bridge into the cut only to swim out and do it again, until the Charleston City Police ran us off. Wet, laughing and full of adrenaline were young, foolish and bullet proof for that brief moment in time. Its one thing to see the cut from the bridge, but its quite different to feel the tug of the tide and the pull of a bond of friendship from water level. No technology needed, just a little gravity, alot of peer pressure and the courage of youth. It was simple, direct,exciting and oh so connected to this land.
Isle of Palms Connector
      I wonder how many romances were started at the draw bridges that use to dot our coast? How many souls owe our existence today to the extra time that our parents were oh so happily forced to be together, waiting for a drawbridge? Moonlight shinning on the water and  the sound of a ships horn sounding somewhere in the distance as she headed seaward. I don't think cupid hunts on the IOP connector and if he did it's hard to hit a moving target. People who blast to and from the beach don't often think about where they are, only where their going.
     Bridges by definition tie people together,but their just a tool like any other. Used  to connect both land and people together, they also can bond you to the ones who count. It's so easy to forget that the only reality that we can live in is the now. So next time you cross a bridge, roll the windows down and mute the phone, and share a few minutes and maybe story about the time of the dinosaurs, a time before cell towers ruled the earth and the inner net was a place where you caught shrimp.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bicycle Poetry/ Life Is Just a Cycle

Tired I wheeled back into the saddle, feeling outspoken almost cranky, peddling the same tubular thoughts through my head.Set on breaking the chains that fork my reality to the hub of my existence. 

A quick release of all stress as I drop out to regain my bearings, virtually on the rim of smiling, spinning on an axle of joy, no longer a need to handle bars or nuts in my life. 

Now seated at my post at the center of what should be the frame work for a happy life,,,,,,

Life Is A Cycle After All.

                                                              R. Sweat

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Voodoo, Root Women, Curses Sometimes Come True

     The sea islands  around Charleston have their own ebb and flow. From the many tidal creeks and marshes to the rhythm of life lived by the descendants of slaves who for generations were the sole inhabitants of  this secluded place. In this hallowed land of Angel Oaks and salt marshes the lines between truth, religion, belief, fantasy, fact and lore are often blurred and hidden from the sight of  any outsiders that happen to stray into their world.
      Local voodoo called "Root" was brought here in the bellies of the first slave ships to reach Charleston. Africans inserted into this strange land were stripped of all possessions and forced into Christianity by their owners. As a way of remembering and handing down their homelands heritage, they began to incorporate many of  the elements from their native beliefs and practices into their new religion. Poultices, blessings, signs, and curses from many African tribes found there way to the South Carolina Lowcountry and over the years became inseparable from any single belief system.
     Being from the city I had never heard of "Root" growing up nor had I ever heard the Gullah language that is spoken so beautifully on the islands around my famous home town. The first time I heard of our local brand of witchcraft I was only 17 years old and working my first real job on Seabrook Island. One of my fellow workers was a young girl who was in love with a local boy, but before he would marry her, she had to have a "test baby" to prove that she was fertile. Anna was a quiet young lady of 19 with startling grey eyes and an easy, graceful manner. She possessed a smile that would make any Hollywood starlet green with envy. A petite girl, she had been seeing her young man for 2 years and she glowed with the light reserved only for those deeply in love.
     Boy babies are prized in the Gullah community and a man who has male offspring is instantly given status so often the women of the islands would go to great lengths to try to insure that they would have a boy child. To this extent Anna wore a poultice bag of herbs and magical tokens around her neck that were guaranteed to ensure a sons birth.Whether I believed in the power of the smelly concoction in the qui qui bag didn't matter; she did. Evidently the odor, while stifling, kept everyone else at bay, it didn't seem to have the same effect on her fiancee. Nine months later Anna  and her man had a baby boy, and a month after that she was wed.
     A few years later I was taking an employee home to his house on Johns Island after a long hot workday. When we pulled into the driveway of the small 150 year old home, Clint as any good southerner will do invited me in to meet his family. As I entered the neat as a pin residence I noticed thousands of coins, from pennies to quarters covering the floor. Unlike the rest of the house, the floor was un-kept and dust covered. Next to the polished furniture and clean glass windows of the rest of the house, the crust covered floor definitely stood out. Clint's wife and kids were a mirror to his upbeat, intelligent personality and I enjoyed my visit with them, but I was expected home so I bid them goodnight and made my way to the door,feet crunching on the treasure trove of coins under my feet.
    As I reached the door the thought of the myriad  of coins crossed my mind, so out of curiosity I bent to pick up a quarter. From behind me I heard a chorus of "STOP" and little shrieks of terror that chilled my heart and froze me in my tracks. Looking back I saw the fear and despair  in their eyes, so hands up palms toward them I turned around to ask what was up. The tale I was told was my second and strangest run In with "Root" ,,,,,Yet.
     The story went that Clint's wife had and argument with the daughter of a local "Root Woman" or witch. After a six month running battle over the disagreement, they were awaken by a knock at the door at the witching hour,twelve midnight only to find the "Root Woman" standing on their porch. Without a sound the woman spit into her palms and threw two large handfuls of mixed coins past my host's and onto the floor, laughing she ran away, but never uttering a word. Seems the woman had cursed each coin with a different malady and any or all of them would come true if they were ever picked up off the floor. That was eight years ago and over time as the family would drop additional coins on the floor where they would be left in fear of picking up the wrong one and setting off whatever evil spell was contained by mistake.  The curse while terrifying to our subconscious actualy had a practical application. #1 The dirt and dust accumulated on the floors had to have negatively impacted the health of all of those who lived there. #2 Money lost to the floor was lost forever and even though it was just coins it still had  a negative financial  impact on a family living just above the poverty line. 3 The mental stress of believing in the curse and living around the tokens of that curse must have been a strain. Seeing on a daily basis the objects that were designed to bring you doom, must have been akin to walking around with a loaded gun at your head. Clint moved his family 2 years later and never went back to the house that had been passed down  to him for three generations. As far as I know they never touched a coin.
       One summer I had a crew of 15 guys working for me that all grew up and went to school together on the islands. It was one of the best groups I ever had work for me. They seemed to anticipate each other, and soon we all fell into a work rhythm  that summer. Twelve hours a day we laughed,sweat, ate and bled together to the seasons music. Simple, hard, hot, and unforgettable.
      Kiawah in those days had a cafeteria that served mainly leftovers from the restaurants or Mingo Point (The almost every night barbecue and square dance just outside the security gate). Ribs,Chicken,Potato Salad, Red Rice, Hush Puppies,,,,and more. Good eats at a good price or so I thought.
      One day while feasting on barbecued chicken I noticed that none of the guys were eating the red rice. Curious I asked if no one liked it and in unison they all shot me looks ranging from amusement to bordering on fright. Dumbfounded I pressed for more information and after twenty minutes or so, I was given an  explanation that left me wordless and more than a little ill. I don't know if what they told me was true, but if they believed it, that meant that the women casting the spells believed it, so it could be true. Anyway be forewarned.
      My guys, one at a time and sometimes in unison told me a tale of deceit, treachery and what can only be described as desperation. They said that local girls who wanted to enact what amounted to a love potion, and conquer a mans heart used a potion that included their, how can I say it nicely,,,,,,Monthly Discharge....I know,,,EEEEwwwww! They would use some medium, soup, sauces, spaghetti, bloody mary's, anything tomato based, to slip this most personal potion to the man or men they were interested in controlling. Hence the red rice.
     This was my third and certainly most personal contact with "Root". What I do know is that I had eaten the red rice for months and that I was engaged to marry a woman I couldn't stand. It wasn't until I had to move to Florida to go to college five years later that I came to my senses and got a divorce,,,,coincidence? Was it the distance from "Root" or that overwhelming urge to strangle her on a daily basis  that finally broke the spell? I don't know. What I do know is that I have never looked at a tomato the same way and I always cook the red rice.
     "Root" was around long before we arrived on the planet and I have no doubt it will be part of my great great grand kids vocabulary one hundred years from now. Part science, part witchcraft, it's carved out it's own niche in fabric of our fare city. People who believe, swear by it, while others scoff at the mere idea of anything unseen in this world. I don't know where I stand or what I believe, exactly. I do know that it's always wise to be wary and to keep an open mind about things you know little of, but mostly one should always be respectful of other peoples beliefs. Mark Twain once said, "Nothings more powerful than what you don't know".  I'm reminded of that every time I see someone wearing a lucky medallion around their neck, or stoop to pick up a heads up coin and especially every time I see a plate of red rice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: To Seafood Is To Love Food

Stories From The Carolina Coast: To Seafood Is To Love Food:      Fish fry's in the Lowcountry have always been an event that brings together friends and family to share in the bounty of our areas la...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Whats in a name

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Whats in a name:     OK,where do I start?   The Name. Gator HOoooo isn't about the U of Florida or any wild life preservation group,or even one of those grea...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: To Seafood Is To Love Is To Love

Stories From The Carolina Coast: To Seafood Is To Love Is To Love:      Fish fry's in the Lowcountry have always been an event that brings together friends and family to share in the bounty of our areas la...

To Seafood Is To Love Food

     Fish fry's in the Lowcountry have always been an event that brings together friends and family to share in the bounty of our areas lakes, creeks and of course the ocean. Fry's come in all shapes and sizes, it might be as simple as  cornmeal rolled Bream,Crappie  or squealers(small catfish) or a true banquet with a cornucopia of all the oceans goodness from shark steak or spanish mackerel to fried oysters and scallops. One of the great things about the south is that you never show up empty handed. While in college I picked up this recipe and I use it whenever I'm invited to anything having to do with our aquatic friends. It's not hard, it only takes a little patience (that's all I have) and it makes you look like you grew up in a restaurant.

       Fried Fish With Seafood And Artichokes

8-10 fish fillet's:  I love speckled sea trout, Spot Tail Bass(Redfish), and Wahoo are all great. Pretty much dealers choice.

2lbs of large peeled shrimp:

1&1/2 lbs of large sea scallops:

1/8th cup of olive oil:

3/4-cup of sour cream

1&1/2-sticks of margarine:

1-large chopped onion eigthed :

12- sliced mushrooms:

1- red bell pepper cut into strips

2-cans of artichokes:

3-cups of flour:

Salt, Pepper, Garlic(no garlic salt):

2-cups of white wine:

           Here's where it gets fun.
     In a deep(I mean deep) frying pan add the olive oil and 1 stick of margarine and turn up the heat to high. Salt pepper and garlic your fish and then coat with flour before gently placing them in the hot pan. Don't overcook,just gently brown both sided before removing the filet's and placing them in a pan in your oven to stay warm.Turn your burner down to simmer and Deg-lase( Fancy term for  using a liquid to help scrape all the good stuff free from the bottom of your pan) the pan with white wine. Into the freshly deg-lased pan add everything else except the shrimp or scallops. Let everything simmer for 15 minutes before stirring in your shrimp and scallops,,,,,,TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Salt pepper and garlic to taste,,,go light seafood swims on its own.
     Take your fish out of the oven and lay over the mixture. Spoon some of the goodies over the fish and lets simmer for 10 more minutes. just like everything else in Charleston its served over rice.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Half Rubber For a Whole Summer

     A half a rubber ball went sizzling by my head, so close you could smell the thing, spinning as it went by,sending a fine trail of sand into my eyes as it passed. Forcing me not for the first or last time to take a quick seat in the hot august sand. The cut off shovel handle I was using as a bat cascaded toward the Atlantic House Restaurant, bringing on another chorus of laughter from the apposing team as I brushed myself off and stepped back in to take the next pitch. That one was close I thought. The pitch had started out 3 feet behind my left shoulder and 2 feet above my head before curving back toward the plate in an arc most physics professors would have considered impossible. The next pitch came blasting towards me in a straight line at 80+ mph. It started out a foot off the ground before rising to above my shoulders as it reached me and  I realized as my swing badly missed that it would have sailed another 1/4 mile if the catcher hadn't made a great jumping one handed effort to knock the ball down. The next pitch was another breaking ball, but unlike the previous one it came in on its side, catching too much of the plate and seconds later  a WHOMP sent it retracing it's direction before landing on the deck that separated the Atlantic House from the Over the Ocean Bar.....HOMERUN,,,No more laughter. No running needed, I walked over and pulled a cold Heineken from the cooler, now this is a game.
Atlantic House on Folly Beach
Another Great Donnie Smith Studios Photo
   Half Rubber is a game hardly known off the South Carolina Beaches. Simple, basic, direct, laid back and challenging. It requires nerve, judgement and the ability to see something not for where it is, but for where its going to be. A social game that's also incredibly competitive  If it's not a metaphor for Southerners, I don't know what is.
      It can be played in teams or just with a pitcher, a batter, and a catcher. All the equipment needed can usually be found in your storage shed. An old broom or shovel handle and a few rubber balls split down the middle and your in business. Unlike baseball the batter  is not out until he swings and misses and the catcher holds on to the pitch or if a fly ball is caught. An at bat can be anywhere from one pitch to infinity and singles,doubles,triples and home runs are judged by how far a hit pitch travels,,,,no bases needed,,,,baseball distilled down to its best and  most basic essence.Who needs all that running? Its too damn hot down here for all that nonsense. Again a very southern thing.
     South Carolina has a history of great baseball from little league to the pro's, from "shoeless Joe" to Jim Rice and beyond. A few years ago we sent 5 college teams to the NCAA post season tournament and recently USC has won back to back national titles(this hurts my soul, I'm a Clemson fan). I wonder how many of those kids grew up honing their skills by hitting 1/2 rubber balls on the beach.
     I've heard it said that like in life, hitting a curve ball is the toughest thing to do in sports. Looking for what is not quite yet and what just might be. Figuring out the the direction that the object of your goals is taking and then being ready to take a swing for the fences.Remember though, even if you strike out at least you picked up the bat, and if your lucky like in half rubber your field will be a beach.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea

Stories From The Carolina Coast: And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea: Is there anything more southern than sweet tea? This house wine of the south is served to guest from trailer parks to the governors ma...

And On The 8th Day God Made Sweet Tea

      Is there anything more southern than sweet tea? This house wine of the south is served to guest from trailer parks to the governors mansion. Now I'm not talking about that faint flavorless liquid found at banquet halls and restaurants all over world. The one where they have to add ice to improve the flavor, with a color so faint that you would need a scientific instrument to discern a difference in hue from the water from which it came. No i'm talking about good ole meal in its self, send a diabetic into a coma, more addicting than crack sweet tea. When I worked in the recreation dept. at Kiawah Island I use to turn on northern interns who were trying to work their way towards a degree to the addicting nectar . Like a drug dealer ,I'd give them the first glass for free and watch as they were reduced to begging and bartering  for a refill,  as the cravings for a second glass filled their heart and mind with an unquenchable desire and love for The Souths elixir of love . I often wonder if any of them were ever stopped at customs at the Mason-Dixon Line on their way home at the end of the summer season . Two cases of Liptons and a five pounds of Dixie Crystal, trying to get back into Ohio or Michigan.
      The great South Carolina band Craven Melon once wrote, "On The Eight  Day, God Made Sweet Tea" and to this there can be no argument. People often accuse Southerners of moving, talking or acting slow, and maybe its true.  I've heard this blamed on the oppressive heat and humidity that are part and parcel of our glorious summers, but I have another answer. Just maybe its a three hundred year old secret, passed from father to son and mother to daughter from Virginia to Florida,Charleston to El Paso. Maybe we understand just a little quicker than most, and act on that knowledge before the rest of the world and in doing so finish early, and speak slow, as to measure the words and not divulge our regions greatest secret. It's all just a ploy to spend more time with family and friends and have just one more glass of that Southern Heaven.

PS and A Big PS: I might be stripped of my Southern citizenship for this but in the interest of world peace  I will now for the first time pass along my aunt- Miss Alene's  recipe (for those of y'all that don't know , calling an older relative mr. or miss is an added degree of respect).

  Six regular tea bags
  Two and don't skimp this cups of sugar this is sweet, not iced tea there's a difference
   (Charleston Tea Plantation Tea is Best ,Liptons if you can't find it)
   Tie strings on bags together, pull the bags out by the strings as not to rupture.
   Add all ingredients this is important and bring to a boil.
    Boiling the sugar kind of caramelizes it as and changes the taste of the tea
    Let steep (cool) for fifteen minutes
    Fill a gallon pitcher with ice then pour in tea
    Add Lemon no more than a slice, it will turn into lemonade with anymore
     I prefer to add a 1/2 slice in the glass when I feel the need.

Pour yourself a glass, crawl into a hammock  and do little to nothing and then start making plans to conquer the world,,,,Southern Style

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too o...: I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans, pronounced "Nawlins" by the way, in the late 80's early 90's. I ...

Spices Of The Gods: And Fish,Chicken & Steak Too or My Mouths on Fire But I Can't Stop Eating

       I had the honor to spend a few years in and around New Orleans,  pronounced "Nawlins" by the way,  in the late 80's early 90's. I came away with a great admiration for the area, the culture and especially the food. I was taught how to eat Mud Bugs by a young Tulane student. She showed me how break the  tail from the body of the Crawfish and then "Suck the Head" before eating the mini-lobster meat hiding in the tail. We attacked the 3 foot high pile of crustaceans along with 200 of our newest Mardi Gras friends as we waited for the Crew Of Wrecks Parade to begin its winding journey, through the streets of the Crescent City. Covered in Crawfish Juice and Dixie Beer I had the Time of my  life as I savored every sight,  sound and smell  during my first festival and what and education I got that night.
     Being from the South and the Lowcountry I am no stranger to great Southern Cuisine. Fried chicken, barbecue (Mustard Sauce , Maurice Bessingers of course), rutabagas, collards, and  shrimp and grits are preached  in the kitchens of homes in Charleston and embedded in our collective psyche  from the time were born  as much as saying m'am or sir or holding the door for a lady.
       One of the main differences between Cajun food and the rest of the south is the heat to which it is served. Now I'm not talking about temperature of the food as measured by a thermometer , but rather the quantity of pepper, tabasco sauce, or cayenne used in just about every dish, even the sweet tea seems to have a little kick.  I learned over time not only to like,  but grew to love and crave whats been called the cajun trinity, of garlic, onion and cayenne pepper. To the point where I have put hot sauce on potato salad.
     Like the smugglers who brought back the first silk worms from China, or tobacco from the new world I managed to spirit away the recipe for what could be the very touchstone of cajun cooking, Blackened Seasoning. This is not for the faint of heart or those who think paprika is too spicy. My first encounter  with this ethereal concoction  was at K-Pauls when I ordered Blackened Redfish (Spot Tail Bass) and I immediately fell prostrate and  gave myself heart and soul to its worship. While the seasoning gained fame on fish it is equally as good on beef and especially chicken. Now tempting the fates and risking reprisal from the cajun food police, I am now going to pass along this well guarded secret of the Creole Coast.
                                                    Real Blacken Seasoning
       First you need an 8 ounce container with holes in the lid big enough to shake oregano through.

        1.     2 Tablespoons of Paprika
        2.     5 Teaspoons of Salt
        3.     2 Teaspoons of Onion Powder
        4.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        5.     2 Teaspoons of Garlic Powder
        6.     2 Teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper
        7.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  White Pepper
        8.     1  1/2 Teaspoons of  Black Pepper
        9.     1 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
       10.     1 Teaspoon of Oregano

                 Shake well before using

     HOW TO USE:  Lightly coat meat with olive oil then cover,,,I mean COVER  with seasoning until you can't see the color of the food.  Cook,,,,,Grill, Hot Cast Iron Frying Pan, Bake In Oven. It doesn't matter it's all good. Great with New Potatoes, Red Rice, You name it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Thoughts while waiting for the coffee

Diary of a Hurricane Blogger: Thoughts while waiting for the coffee: Its 5A.M. as you awake to the clock in your head. In the darkness your enveloped in a cocoon of warmth ,just big enough for you and her...

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Water Cycles

Stories From The Carolina Coast: Water Cycles: As a kid, not unlike alot of southern boys I grew up in the water. From Easter to Halloween It's hard to think of a time when I wasn't ...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Water Cycles

     As a kid, not unlike alot of southern boys I grew up in the water. From Easter to Halloween It's hard to think of a time when I wasn't bobbing around in some river,lake or ocean. Salt, brackish,fresh it didn't matter as long as it was wet. I was given my first boat at the age of 10, by 12 I was mapping out bream beds on lake Marion, and at 16 I was a regular on the Carolina Clipper as it made its way offshore to fish our portion of the the gulf stream, that great warm river that cuts its way through the Atlantic on its northbound journey
    I've heard it said that some people have salt water in their veins and I truly believe that's true, my wife might even tell you that I have pluff mud for a brain. Truth be told I've never lived more than 15 minutes from some body of water. Even in college my only requirement for choosing a school was that I could get to a beach within that same 15 minutes. As a bonus my schools mascot was a chambered nautilus (A Seashell). I guess that why we never had a football team,,,,go seashells!
      My dad taught me how to catch, clean and cook blue crab , fillet spot tail bass(redfish for the rest of the world),and the right way to hold and throw a cast net. He showed me how to spot the Rips, the breaks in sandbars and told  me why fish gathered there. These are but a few of the things that I have tried to pass along to my son. All these things you grow to love, but what you gain is a respect and love for the South Carolina lowcountry.
     I would dare anyone to sit on a Carolina beach on a late September afternoon  and not feel the pull of the tide on your thoughts, as the waves crash to the rhythm  of your heartbeat. The sea is like a long lost love, or chocolate to you ladies, if she ever gets inside you she will always own a portion of your soul. If you don't believe me pull up a beach chair, leave your watch, lose your shoes, and before you know it your smiling  and you wont even know why.