South Carolina Information Highway – known colloquially as Sciway – has some suggestions for how to spend July in South Carolina.
I love this online service from James Island. It offers a thorough look at the goings on in our state, the festivals, the cool websites, the history.
So when I saw the e-mail announcing July events, I eagerly opened it and found a path back into my childhood summers with my grandmother.
Here’s what they said:
Feast on a peach – This year’s expected to be a bumper crop – which means 60,000 tons of peaches grown on 18,000 acres – more than Georgia, the Peach State. The prevailing smell of my grandmother’s summertime kitchen was ripe peaches. With pudgy, nimble fingers and a well-worn paring knife, she’d strip those beauties clean and either slice them into a bowl for breakfast or a casserole dish for cobbler.
Sometimes we’d pass Taylor’s Peach Shed, but never went in. Friends and family regularly brought peaches along with homegrown tomatoes and cantaloupe and all manner of vegetables to her five-room home in Greer.
I am sure my aged mind has warped the memory but it seems like that backdoor slapped with visitors every 10 minutes. And just as no one ever left her house without her giving them something, no one arrived empty handed either.
Live large on local shrimp. Now this was one foodstuff I rarely saw at my grandmother’s table but we sure ate it at Myrtle Beach for that one-week vacation – always July 4 – every year. We’d stay at a motel on the oceanfront. My uncle didn’t believe in making reservations, but we never wanted for a clean bed and an ocean view. Sciway mentioned paring the shrimp with corn on the cob, hush puppies – yes – and cold beer – a definite no in my family.
Hit the road. We spent a lot of time at home, but on special weekends one of my aunts would invite us all up to her place in the North Carolina mountains near Tuxedo. This usually involved driving the Willys Jeep around the little lake my uncle created. Yes, we were 12 and yes, we did get it stuck in the mud, which resulted in my uncle pulling it out and saying, “Ready to go again.” My cousin and I always wanted to spend the night in the silver trailer by ourselves, but if it was raining we were out of luck. Grandma wanted to fall asleep the sounds of raindrops meeting tin.
Catch a wave. Already covered that but Sciway also says go surfing, which was not something any one of us had heard much about 40 years ago.
Sit and sip. Or in other words, drink tea. This was the only drink found in my grandmother’s house as far as I recall. I’m sure she had milk and juice but that was not on my menu. There was nothing puny about my grandmother’s tea. It was steeped and sweet. Very.
Years ago no one asked for sweet tea. It just was. That was the only way it was made. Now the modifier is used universally.
Sciway suggests taking your sweet tea, inviting someone over and sitting in rocking chairs for some conversation. Days at Grandma’s generally ended up this way. She never had central air so outside offered the coolest spot. The older folks would gather in her effusively landscaped backyard to sit on metal shell chairs and recount the events of the day.
The young ones would nest on her wrap-around porch, usually spying on the neighbors, some of who were actually quite interesting. One man shunned his front door for a window. We never figured out why he left and entered his house that way.
It occurs to me many of Sciway’s suggestions trade on a stereotypical view of the South. But then stereotypes would not be without some basis in fact.