Experience our food, art, history and culture through the words of these local writers.
Descriptions By Denise Doucette Friday
Lowcountry Food & Drink
Cooking the Gullah Way Morning, Noon, & Night
Nothing says Lowcountry like the traditions of the Gullah culture. In this cookbook by Sallie Ann Robinson, almost 100 recipes cover breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and drinks that were staples on Daufuskie Island and passed down from generations of Gullah “beenyahs” (natives). Along with Crispy Smoked Bacon and Cheese grits, Robinson gives an insider look at the chores men, women and children did before breakfast. Several pages are given to muffins and preserves, along with the native plants on the island. Robinson gives a rare insider look at life on Daufuskie before it was developed through her recipes and memories of her childhood, the most important themes being family and community.
Local connection: Robinson is a sixth-generation Daufuskie native. She was a student when Pat Conroy taught on the island and is featured in his book, The Water is Wide.
Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green’s art depicts simple moments in time: neighbors talking, men working, fishing in a creek, a mother and child hanging laundry, children feeding chickens, but also grand moments of life: a wake, prayer houses, pregnancy, marriage. He does this with vibrant colors that are larger than the subject itself. His themes are based on the Gullah community and its splendid way of life. Beyond this though, his artwork transcends economic status of his subjects, making them universally appealing in their truth. The love of family and land, tradition and culture.
Local connection: Green was born and raised in Beaufort County and graduated from Beaufort High School.
Lowcountry Craft of Basket Weaving
An oldie but goodie by Mary Alice Monroe. Sweetgrass is a fictional homestead on the coast of South Carolina that has been in the Blakely family for generations. As developers circle the area, various members of the family struggle with poor health, family obligations and ghosts of tragedy and regret as they come together to save the place they love. Woven within is the story of Nona Bennett, whose family worked and lived among the Blakelys for generations. Her story depicts the Lowcountry history of African-American communities and the sweetgrass basket weaving craft that has been handed down since the early days of slavery. Besides the indigenous grass that supplies her beautiful baskets, the land also holds a slave cemetery of her ancestors, which makes the fight to save Sweetgrass her battle as well.
Local connection: Monroe lives with her family outside of Charleston. Her books highlight environmental concerns and conservation throughout the Lowcountry.
Lowcountry Craft of Writing
The Prince of Tides
It would be difficult to list notable Lowcountry writers without mentioning Pat Conroy. Prince of Tides introduced the rest of the country to the life of shrimpers among the ebb and flow of the tides of barrier island living. The beautiful prose and laborious descriptions of the Lowcountry is in sharp contrast to the horrific abuse and dysfunction of the Wingo family. The book goes back and forth between the childhood of the three Wingo kids, twins Tom and Savannah, and older brother Luke, and the three as adults trying to function after the trauma of their childhood. The book is both outlandish (a pet tiger) as well as semi-autobiographic (an abusive and authoritarian father).
Local connection: Conroy attended Beaufort High School and the Citadel. He lived in Beaufort. He died in 2016 at age 70.
The Chronicles of Willow Point
Beloved Beaufort resident Tommy Baysden’s latest effort is a written account of a local family and their life in the century following cotton and rice. Find it at baysdenbooks.com
“I wanted to leave a record of what life was like in this amazing place, from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the 21st Century,” Baysden writes. “I could think of no better way to tell the story than through the lives of the people who lived it.”
While a work of fiction, all but one of
the interesting (and sometimes outrageous) incidents in the 263-page book actually happened. It is a fascinating read for those interested in Beaufort County history and the unique lives that locals lived in that period. It comes at a time when things are changing rapidly in this land of beauty and rich blessings.
“If you perceive a message of conservation in these pages, you can be sure I put it there for you to find,” Baysden said.
Baysden has been in Beaufort County for almost 50 years. He served as chief marketing officer at Sea Pines Resort, Callawassie Island, Spring Island, Oldfield Club and Palmetto Bluff. He is also the author of The Rock Jaw Ladies Club: A Memoir of the Other Vietnam. He is a fly fisherman, an Episcopalian and an avid Tar Heels fan.