Immersing Myself in Southern/Island Culture

My visit to St. Simons Island, GA to speak at the Scribbler’s Retreat Writers’ Conference was my first trip to the south, and I made sure that I immersed myself in the culture (at least as much as one can in a few days). I walked on the beach, climbed the lighthouse, toured a Civil War era cemetery, strolled among live oaks dripping with Spanish moss (which is neither Spanish nor moss but a member of the pineapple family). And ate. She-crap soup. Crab cakes. Shrimp and grits. Red beans and rice. Key lime pie. Fried oysters. Fried green tomatoes. Fried dill pickles. Vidalia onion pie. I was disappointed in the fried green tomatoes and the beans and rice. Both dishes were seasoned heavily with rosemary, which is my least favorite herb. And I was disappointed not to find such haute cousine as fried Twinkies, but I’m sure my stomach thanks me for the oversight.

I also met a woman I considered to be a quintessential fading southern belle. She was still beautiful despite being past her first youth, and hospitable (she took me on a tour of the island on Sunday in the hours between hotel check-out and my flight home). She was also charming, sweet,  and  . . .  from Maine. Just shows one should not assume anything.

Several of my meals were eaten in the company of fellow speakers Phillip Margolin, Chuck Barrett, and Jane Wood, (and Chuck’s delightful wife who taught me that “the store is always open,” meaning that authors always need to be ready to promote themselves. Maybe I’ll even heed her words and carry my bookmarks with me!)

I’m still trying to collect the photos that people took of me, but until then, you’ll have to be satisfied with photos I took.

The Hotel where I spent Wednesday and Thursday night

My room at the Village Inn

Atlantic Ocean

Pier at St. Simons Island

Civil War Cemetery

Southern Gothic

Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Oysters, Vidalia Onion Pie, Fried Dill Pickles

8 Responses to “Immersing Myself in Southern/Island Culture”

  1. Yosis Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing these gorgeous photos – what a lovely representation of your trip! I love the lush colorful greenery contrasted next to the rough and rocky coastline. Simply beautiful. And I do want to taste a fried dill pickle…or do I not?!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, you do want to taste fried dill pickle!! I didn’t eat many, and now I wish I’d brought the rest back with me. St. Simons was gorgeous. Stunning tree-canopied drives, marshes, the ocean, gorgeous flowers.

  2. Wanda Says:

    I’ll not mind being satisfied with the pictures you took. Love the trees with the moss (and I didn’t know it wasn’t moss! A pineapple relative??? Who knew.) I’ve never seen the Atlantic but I plan to do that soon. St. Simons is a beautlful place. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Joyce Norman Says:

    Pat, this is just too wonderful! My mentor, Eugenia Price, wrote all the Southern novels — St. Simons Trilogy — Savannah — Beloved Invader — New Moon Rising — Lighthouse.
    In fact, I used to visit Genie on St. Simons all the time and spent many wonderful Thanksgivings and Christmases in her great home down Fredericka Road (It’s about 1/2 mile from Christ Church). SO, when I saw where you had been there, I couldn’t wait to write you.

    On my very first trip to the Island I actually stayed at the same hotel where you stayed! Coincidence? I think not!

    Would love to talk to you about that fascinating place — who knows, we probably have met some of the same people.

    Thanks for posting this!


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I took a tour, and we went by her place, stopped at Christ Church. How cool that you knew Eugenia Price! She was all over St. Simons — or at least information about her. There was a special room for her at the lighthouse museum. St. Simons does seem to be a place steeped in a literary tradition.

  4. knightofswords Says:

    I grew up with Spanish Moss and miss it here in NE Georgia where it doesn’t grow. If your pictures are an indication, you sure saw plenty of it. I never developed a taste for fried green tomatoes, but probably like most of the other foods you sampled. I’m glad you had a chance to get a feel for the place rather than being stuck inside the hotel 24/7.


    P.S. Rosemary is my favorite herb. Oh well. . .

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Because of flights and connections, I had to get there a day early, so I had plenty of time to wander before the conference. And plenty of time to people watch. Six hours in the Atlanta airport! Yikes. But it was worth the aggravation. St. Simons was a wonderful place. Too bad we couldn’t have met, but maybe someday . . .

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