Tag Archives: The South

The Written Word Endures #9

“We’re here.”

In an explosion of cheers and yelps, the car doors flung open as Palmer and Cara leaped out and ran like wild Indians across the dunes to the beach beyond. Lovie laughed and placed a hand to her heart as memories played in her mind. That was just what she and her older brother, Mickey, used to do. Now, years later, her children loved it here as much as she did. She pulled herself from the car and set her hands on her hips, lifting her face toward her house.

Primose Cottage was perched high on a dune overlooking the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic. It was the same pale yellow color as the primroses that grew wild on the dunes. With its blue shutters and doors, it looked like another of the wildflowers that surrounded it — purple petunias, sassy Indian blankets, and the lemon yellow primroses for which the cottage had been named. She lifted her hand over her eyes like a visor and searched for signs of wear and tear. The prevailing salt winds and the long winters were harsh on a house. A bit more paint was peeling, sand was thick on the stairs and porches, and there was yard work to be done, but all in all, the little house had survived another winter.

She felt the warmth of the sun as she pulled heavy brown bags of groceries from the car. It was just like the children to run off when she could use their help, she thought with a wry grin… Pushing open the the wood door, she was met by a wall of blistering heat and stale air in the closed-up house… Sweat beaded as she hurried to the large patio doors, unlocked them, and pushed them wide open… She was home at last! Home on the Isle of Palms.

In a burst of enthusiasm, Lovie felt the young girl hiding deep within her spring to life. Chores could wait. Unpacking the rest of the car could wait. Cleaning and dusting could wait. At this precious moment in time, her children were out on the beach, playing in the sun. This, she knew, could not wait.

Lovie almost skipped to the linen closet to pull out three thick terry cloth towels. She didn’t usually use her better towels for the beach, but sometimes one just had to break the rules. She tossed the towels in an empty grocery bag, grabbed her floppy purple hat, and hurried out the door.

Her heels dug deep into the soft sand as she raced along the narrow beach path…Immediately she spotted her children cavorting in the surf like shorebirds — Palmer a shorter, pale-chested sanderling, her dear “peep”, running on thin legs, dodging waves. Cara a sleek, slate-black hooded gull, raucously calling and laughing with joy.

Joy… It filled Lovie’s heart as she sprinted toward her children. She paused only to slip out of her shorts and tug her T-shirt from her body to toss on the sand. Her simple black maillot folded to her woman’s body, but she felt ageless as she raced to the waves. With a cry, she leaped into the water, splashing and surprising her children, who whopped in excitement at her arrival. She heard their calls — “Mama! Mama!” — as birdsong before she dove under the oncoming wave. The water was startlingly chilly yet refreshing.

Stroking beneath the water, she felt all the accumulated dust of the city wash away. Lovie kicked her legs, pushed with her arms, and burst to the surface. Gasping for air, tasting salt, she felt the warmth of the sun on her face.

– Mary Alice Monroe, Beach House Memories

* It certainly feels like summer around these parts. I’m on my third book in one week! We’re devouring books whole around here! My Mom introduced me to Mary Alice Monroe many moons ago, when she gave me a copy of The Beach House. The sequel to this book is just as moving and for anyone who grew up in or around the Lowcountry it certainly speaks to your Southern heart. I was left in pieces after this book. It was eloquently written. And as sea turtles have been a cause near and dear to my heart since I was a child, this book in particular is very special.

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Sally Bell’s

There is something very unique about the South. There’s an essence to the people, to the way of life, to the general mannerisms. The South is a place that my heart yearns for when I’m not there. As there is everywhere, the South has a lot of off the beaten path joints and those special places that relate just to your town. Everyone has their favourite diner, their favourite hang out. You know who has the best sweet tea, where to the find the fluffiest melt in your mouth biscuits and who has the best pecan pie as close as you can get to tasting like your Mama’s!

A few months ago while reading an article, I discovered a Virginia treasure. Sally Bell’s, in Richmond, has been in business for over 92 years! Even more incredible then their longevity is the fact that Sally Bell’s was started after the meeting of two ladies at the Richmond Exchange for Women’s Work. An organisation that allowed women to earn money for selling their wares and work toward becoming self-sufficient. Just as important in 1883 as it is today. They’ve been at their present location since the 1920’s and not too long ago, after VCU purchased their property they moved to a new spot. In that move they discovered numerous pieces of their history stored away in the nooks and crannies of cabinets, drawers and hutches, they hope to put these on display in their new home.

Sally Bell’s is a place near and dear to many people’s hearts. That is clearly evident by not only the patrons that have been coming for generations, but also the people who work there. They are a family and they put heart and soul into their food. Their box lunches would be a treat for sure! I couldn’t imagine anything better. It’s nice to know that as the world continues to march forward, places like this still exist. The nostalgia they carry forward is so very important to who we were, where we are going, what we want to become and what we don’t want to lose value in.

I loved watching these ladies put the lunches together. What is it about something wrapped in wax paper? Maybe it just conjures up a certain time in my childhood for me, watching my mother and grandmothers wrap cakes or sandwiches in a layer of wax paper. The crinkly sound it creates always makes me think of a scene in Driving Miss Daisy, where Jessica Tandy prepares a lunch for her and Hoke. She wraps their lunch in wax paper and tucks it into a shoebox so nothing gets crushed. That sound the paper makes as she folds the corners in and later as they eat by the roadside, drinking Coca-Colas from a glass bottle, Hoke crushes up the wax paper that housed his deviled egg. The crinkly, crunchy, soft sound that it makes, I love that noise.

One day, I’m making a road trip to Sally Bell’s. Besides my boxed lunch, I think I will also be walking out with a box of cupcakes, because it just wouldn’t seem fitting to not do that!

Below are three brief, yet interesting articles on Sally Bell’s, worth a read:

Martha Crowe Jones & Marcyne Jones

Richmond Magazine: First Look: The New Sally Bell’s

Eater: A Boxed Lunch That Has People Lining Up at 6 a.m.

I Miss the South!

Jennifer Michie Queen Anne's Lace

As I headed out for my walk this morning, the sun was glistening in the sky and there was a nice breeze going, that was offsetting the warmth of the sun. It was a walk that started out full of optimism and excitement over what discoveries I would make along the way.

Half way through my walk, I was already down trodden and it wasn’t the heat, or the fact that I was tired from not sleeping that great last night or that a blister on my heel was rubbing against my sneaker. No, I can deal with all of that and still stay upbeat. It was the people I was passing! In the 50 or so other walkers, joggers and strollers I passed, I said “Good Morning!” to every single one and in all of those, “Good Morning’s!” only two people responded, TWO!

One man only responded because the path narrowed and there was no way for him to get out it, I guess? But he didn’t look at me and just mumbled a gruff reply. The other was from a gentleman who like me, was smiling. He cheerfully replied while his cute little fluffy white dog ran down the path. Everyone else pretended they didn’t hear me.

I have to tell you, this morning my walk left me disheartened and terribly missing the South. There is no way I could do the walk I do in the time I do it in if I was in the South. Because, everyone stops everyone else to comment on the weather, the gardens, the seasons, a simple “Hello!” to a neighbour turns into a catch up on family news and life. I miss the South where gentleman hold doors open for you instead of rushing past you. Where people are simply polite to one another. I miss being everyone’s, Sweetie, Honey, Lil’ Miss, Ma’m and Shuga. Where no one is a stranger.

Now, I’m not saying I’m after the other walkers, joggers and strollers life stories. But if someone offers you salutations the polite and basic human kindness thing to do is to reply.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better walk! Here’s to the weekend, long may it last!