From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
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Archive for July, 2009



July Mainer

Cindy’s takeout, Freeport, Maine. PFE Photo.

Sunshine is even more precious in Maine this summer. Everyone talks of the rainy weeks of June. One lobsterman shook his head and said, “Ain’t had no spring. Hardly had no summer.”  But since arriving on the eve of July 4th we’ve had several of the fleeting sunny afternoons, the clear-sky evenings when the light hangs on longer than you think possible, gleaming in the coves, over the spruce tops and across the lakes. We’ve got a tiny cabin about half way up Maine’s shoreline – a coast  that juts out so raggedly into the cold, clear ocean, breaking off into islands, the rocky outposts of long-ago glaciers. After the long drive up from South Carolina, our first Maine stop was north of Yarmouth on Route 1 at Cindy’s, where the owner showed us his old Ford. “Bought it from the second owner,” he said, passing some hot onion rings out of the stand’s window, and then a hefty, buttery lobster roll wrapped in white waxed paper.

A couple days after getting to the cabin at Long Pond, we drove a few miles up the road above Silver Lake to the Silveridge Farm. The strawberries were plump, red and ready for picking. I filled an old clam basket with 9 or 10 pints, which weighed in at $9. We gave some of the sweet berries to friends, and ate the rest with yogurt, with tapioca, on biscuits, fresh in slices or on the hand, and the last couple pints I cooked into jam. Summer is good here. You can see it and taste everywhere, and it’s all the more prized with the come-and-go sun.

– Sandy Lang, July 2009 (images by PFE)

jam, Silveridge farm, Bucksport, Maine. PFE Photo.

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Food, Maine days, Travel

St. Helena Island, SC - Peter Frank Edwards Photographs

In a white-painted, one-room building on St. Helena Island, Joseph “Rev.” Bryant was singing “Oh Lord, come by here.”  His voice filled the spare, shed-sized structure, with its benches of narrow boards nailed together, one bare bulb in the ceiling. After the spiritual, Rev. got back to telling stories – talking fast, mixing in Gullah-Geechee pronunciations. He told of moral lessons and Gullah traditions, of plucking fiddler crabs from the pluff mud as a child, and of “sour sally,” the red flowering sourgrass weed “that you can suck on when you’re walking and thirsty, but it’ll put a real knot in your face… more sour than a lemon.”

Describing himself as “the real deal,” Rev. is a one-man tour business, the kind where he’s a passenger in the tour-goer’s own car, giving directions and pointing out sites on St. Helena and nearby sea islands, all within about a 75-mile drive south from Charleston. Along the way, he tells stories and describes the scenery he knows so well from driving a local school bus for many years – the family and community names (often from former plantation owners), the Reconstruction-era houses that are still standing, the cottage that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used as a writing retreat, and the dirt road through the pine woods that you can follow a ways to see a 19th-century cemetery.

An ordained Baptist preacher and Navy veteran, Rev. Bryant fell into song that morning when we stopped inside one of the community praise houses, where, he explained, the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans still meet between church services to share information, pray, sing, and shout. As I sat and listened to his claps and choruses, I let the sights and sounds sink in as much as I could. Glory be.

Joseph “Rev.” Bryant, photo by Peter Frank Edwards

The storytelling, singing Joseph “Rev.” Bryant, above. The copy is an excerpt from an “On the Road” travel feature I wrote for the July 2009 issue of Charleston Magazine, just published.

– Sandy Lang, July 2009 (Images by PFE.)

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