In Praise of Sand & Summer…Good Fiction, and Simple Food.Chicken / June 9, 2017
Recipes and memories from my trip to Hilton Head Island, SC.
How do you know when it’s summer?
I grew up in the 60’s near the Pacific Ocean in sunny SoCal. I loved the pungent aroma of orange blossoms, and the smell of the pepper trees after it rained. It was especially fragrant in mid June when the parched hillsides were beginning to peak with brown grasses. That’s when my sisters and I, as little girls, were most restless.
When my parents could no longer tolerate the desert heat, they would put us in the back seat, load the station wagon with food and towels, and head out on the I-10 freeway towards the continent’s edge. California beaches, here we come!
It was a beautiful sight. Purple and blue hues stretched out to the horizon as the cool water spun seaweed into knotted piles. We made sand castles, followed crabs, and chased the tide and foam all day long… until the sun dipped too low to cast a shadow. And then we went home.
I remember how much sand we took home with us as well. I could always feel it in the lining of my bathing suit no matter how much I moved to get comfortable. I remember seeing it spill out onto the bathroom floor from our suits as our mother prepared us for our evening bath. And, I loved to save some of the granules, and place it in a bag next to my bed.
That’s when I knew it was truly summer.
These days, now that I live close to the eastern shores — with Hilton Head Island being one of my favorite destinations — my cue that summer has arrived is now heralded by the drone of the cicadas and the shriek of the tree frogs after sunset.
Carolina summers are wrapped in moist and sticky mornings, and decorated by the explosion of blossoms on Crepe Myrtle trees. There are lizards jumping along sagging Kudzu vines, marsh birds stepping through the shallow waters of high tide, and butterflies are everywhere.
All of this points to the fact that SUMMER is the best times to cook amazing food. The access to local produce, and the long, sunny days just inspire me to create fresh and easy meals. I love food seasoned generously, food with color and textures that excite, and food I can serve outside while I take in the vibrant colors of the hibiscus flowers, the honeysuckle and gardenias. One could get lost in the epic scale of a magnolia flower. But since they fade in a day or two, I will take my chances and dive right in.
I don’t ride in the back of a station wagon any more. And I miss giggling with my sisters. And while I’m not fond of sand in my git-a-long, I will still gather some of the white stuff and sift it through my fingers, always saving some for another day.