Sunday, September 26, 2010

Low Country

When it comes to water I'm like a vampire after blood.  I may be able to get along for awhile without it, but sooner or later I need to feed. 

I was raised as a water rat.  When I was young, we lived at the beach near Charleston, SC.  My Mother was a stay-at-home Mom, so I have many memories of her and her friends loading us in the backseat of her Dodge and heading to the beach.  It was a daily occurrence. 

During my grade school and high school years we moved inland to Columbia, but my parents were outdoor types and they always kept property and vehicles on the local lake.  I spent my summers in the water being pulled from a rope behind a sky boat. 

The only thing I truly wish we had here on the farm is water, and our pool doesn't count.  Also, not being able to get great low country seafood is a negative.  Around here the restaurants specialize in bad country buffets or fried chicken.  Also C’s idea of seafood is Miss Paul’s fish sticks and I don’t allow those in the house.

Feeling the pull of 'big water' and the need to fill up on oysters, we decided to get away for a few days last week and drive to the coast.  Through the years we both spent a great deal of time in Charleston, Savannah, and some of the neighboring islands but neither of us had visited Beaufort.  One of the locals instructed me not to tell, but it's actually quite charming - a little mini Charleston if you will.  And there's water everywhere. 

We had planned to go out to the beach.  Most of the town is surrounded by marsh and river, so we drove out to Hunting Island one afternoon.  Hunting Island is a state park, so its beach hasn’t been striped of foliage and lined with McMansions like the rest of the South Carolina coastline.  Of course, we were told by everyone that the island, like Beaufort itself, was the backdrop for some of the scenes from the movie Forest Gump.  I saw that movie, but it was so long ago I don't remember it.  I remember something about Tom Hanks eating chocolate on a bench, but that's about it.  I guess Tom Hanks must have lived in Beaufort for decades while making this movie.  His picture is everywhere - in every shop, restaurant, and any other tourist location.  Also, most of the photos are signed so I guess he pretty much knows everyone who lives there.  Being the architectural geeks we are, one morning we toured one of the historic museum houses.  Our tour guide, who was well into her 80’s made sure that we understand she too had met Tom.  In fact, she told us of several discussions she and Tom had over where to get the best chocolates in town and other friendly little conversations.  It appears to me that she and Tom were quite tight and I’m sure they stay in constant contact and probably spend the holidays together. I saw a couple of pictures of Tom with his wife Rita Wilson.  No one mentioned her. I never noted that I do not care much for Tom Hanks and was not really a fan of the movie.  It just seemed like a thing to keep to myself!  Name dropping is OK.  I've mentioned before our house was visited by FDR and Oscar Wilde (read about The Barnes House).  Now of course that was before my time and I don't have their pictures on the wall.  But maybe I should!  “Randy, Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there!  Oscar!”

My only disappointment was the food.  Most of the restaurants were specializing in high end ‘new’ low country. I never did get an oyster.  At least I did make it to the ocean.   Our intent on visiting the beach was not to sun or swim but to just take a look.  But, just like a Labrador puppy I headed straight to the water.  And while C sat on the beach and watched, I splashed around in the surf and made sure I soaked in as much salt water as possible.  I should be good to go for at least another year.


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