23 April 2007

Big Time

Happy Birthday, Sis... here's a little
lowcountry for you.

There's something about a salty breeze that does wonders for me and my sanity. Yesterday, Heather, Luke, and I went to Calabash, NC to eat dinner (Charlie was at a birthday party) because that's the nearest place that has good seafood. Our favorite little block building restaraunt, The Seafood Hut, had a line wrapping around the entire building, so we decided to go on down to Coleman's. It's right on the river in Calabash along with two or three others. Also on this river are the shrimp boat docks.

After dinner, Luke wanted to look at the boats so we went down on the docks and took some pictures. There were several boats lined up at the docks and the black-faced gulls were swooping around everywhere. There was one little boat anchored out in the river. It was the smallest boat there. Ironically, the name of the boat...Big Time.

And it occurred to me that whoever named that boat had it right. That is the Big Time. How much better could it be? Every day, that guy gets to smell the salt air and watch the sea waves roll. He listens to the gulls laugh and watches the marsh grass sway in the breeze. His day is not ruled by a clock but by the coming and going of the tide. And the food. I could eat shrimp every day of my life for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and not get tired of it. This truly is the big time.

My "educated" uncle also used to own a shrimp boat. One of my favorite memories of my lowcountry upbringing was going out shrimping with him. The boat was already out shrimping around Trunkett (Trenchard's, spell it how you will) so he picked me up in his wood bateau at one of the boat landings on St. Helena. Once on the boat, we dropped the nets back and watched the "doors" disappear beneath the waves. The engine groaned with the extra drag placed on it. My uncle pointed to the cables connected to the doors and said, "everything between those two cables is mine." We hauled the nets up and unloaded them on the culling table. We separated out the shrimp and sorted them by "count". We also kept some crab and a few of the doormat sized flounder. The rest was tossed overboard for the waiting dolphins, gulls, and sharks.

We anchored the boat in the sound just inland from the ocean and started cooking. We boiled the shrimp and crabs and fried the flounder. For musical entertainment, what else but Jimmy Buffet. We ate until we were stuffed and watched the sun go down over Bay Point.

For those of you who have never experienced such a thing, I recommend you try it someday. I could probably open a very successful psychotherapy clinic on a shrimp boat. I think it's because the salt breeze creates a disconnect in the mind that unleashes you from the rest of the world. One that makes you forget, if even for a moment, that the rest of the world even exists. And it's at that point, when you tune in to the natural wonders around you and your troubles be damned, that you realize that yes, indeed, this is the Big Time.


AmyWhit said...

I agree about the "healing powers" of a salty breeze on the soul. With there being such a large military population in Beaufort, I've had many military friends over the years. Most cannot wait to get out of Beaufort, and cannot understand when I tell them that I have no desire to leave the area. However, I've heard more than one of those same friends say that they miss the lowcountry after leaving for other parts of the world...even after going back to their own hometowns.

I could eat seafood everyday too, Jeff....but I want it all. The oysters, crab, scallops and shrimp. Oh, you can keep the fish. I can live without it!

My favorite photo is the one of "Big Time".

Judy said...

Very Nice, Bud! Ya know granny still says you need to be a journalist.

Judy said...

Oh, I forgot to remember again! Amen to the seafood!

jamie said...

You know, that is exactly how I feel as I turn the curve right at Poccotaligo coming home to mom's. It is as if nothing else matters but that sweet, sweet salty, marsh smell. When we lived there, and didn't know anything else, I took this very lifestyle for granted!! Now, that I have been in several places all over the USA, I can tell you, there is no other smell in the world like being next to that salty, marsh air and having the sand beneath your feet.

Thanks again ya'll for making me more and more homesick!!! Thanks for the call, BUB. Hopefully, whenever the Army decides we can leave this frigid place, we will be back to the marsh mud, shrimp, crabs, oysters, and that sweet smell! Back HOME!!! So, you guys, when you go outside, sniff a BIG sniff for me, cuz it just ain't the same up here!

Shelia said...

Jeff you are so right. Great story, great memory! Thanks for sharing it. Jamie, the kids and I will take a BIIG sniff for ya today on the way to Burton Wells! ~smiles~

oldav8rswife said...

Jeff I enjoyed your memories so very much. Being a mountain girl from Tennesse, I didn't know the ocean except from Hawaii (that's not real--just touristy). I have grown to love it here, I cannot think of being anywhere else, espicially if that place has snow. Poor Jamie! Thanks for sharing.