A Weekend on James Island: From exercise machine to fried green tomato

The Goodwill on Folly Road.
The Goodwill on Folly Road.

by Sandra Stringer

The exercise machine has been serving as a place to hang my wet bath towel for some time now. And while that is a useful function, a little extra space is needed so I knew it was time to haul the infernal contraption to the Goodwill.

The Goodwill on Folly Road is where I get the bulk of my work clothes, the occasional charming t-shirt, cheap books, and sometimes other unexpected oddments. You can spend an hour in there and come out either with nothing or emerge with a new wardrobe in tow. I paid $5 for a painting I found there once by a French water colorist named Herbelot that turned out to be worth $50. Not the kind of shocker you see on Antiques Roadshow, but I was pretty pleased.

Today I wasn’t there to hunt. The only task at hand was dropping off the machine, which is designed to mimic the movement of climbing. I asked the guy at the drop off point if he saw many of these. “Oh yeah”, he said, with just the slightest eye roll.

Some of the beautiful flowers at Hyams.
Some of the beautiful things at Hyams.

See the photo gallery here. I took so many pictures this weekend!

Oh Hyams…you’re so pretty

I stopped at Hyams because that’s what you do on a drop-dead gorgeous Saturday on James Island. I love this place because it is always beautiful, year round. And, of course, I like to buy plants and trees there. Today was more of a reflective visit. Yes, that’s a thing you can do. Pretend it’s a botanical garden and stroll around looking thoughtful. I’d like to say I had lots of deep thoughts…you know, philosophical thoughts about the meaning of life and such. Of course, I did no such thing. I believe my thoughts went like this: “Oh, that’s beautiful…look at how gorgeous that is…I didn’t know they came in that color…wow, that’s something.” Deep thoughts were had.

Hen and the Goat.
Hen and the Goat.
Thirsty at Goat and the Hen

My next stop was the newest eatery on the island, Hen and the Goat. I was thirsty, and I’d been meaning to stop in and check the place out. It was hopping! I turned to the drink fridge and – song of angels! – they had one of my favorite sodas, Boylan’s Black Cherry!

I stood in line to pay. A guy behind me in line said, “Man, this place is going to crush on James Island!” His friend said, “It’s like being downtown.” It does have that certain vibe, and a menu to match. I saw several things that I will gladly eat once I’m hungry again. They had deli items too, and pastries.

I think Hen and the Goat will do really well. I’ve already heard from others that the food is top notch, and that’s all we really want. You can have the coolest environment in the world, but having excellent eats is the primary draw for people around here.

I can totally imagine having supper here and then heading next door for a show at the Charleston Performing Arts Center. Since Hen and the Goat is open most days till 7 (and until 4 on Sunday), and they welcome people to park there who are going to shows at C-PAC, that works out beautifully.

Lighthouse Point Neighborhood Party
County Parks guy talking about the stuffed wild cat.
County Parks guy talking about the stuffed wild cat.

I received an email last week from Brook Lyon, who is the President of the Lighthouse Point Neighborhood Association. She invited me to come to see the dedication of an historical marker that they were erecting there, and to stay for their annual picnic.

I got there early enough to roam around and visit some of the tables that were set up. The Charleston County Parks and Recreation people had a table, and I asked the young man there about the stuffed wild cat. “How’d it die?” He didn’t know because it had been part of their teaching kit since before he started working with CCPRC. I hope it died the natural death of an old cat.

The Town of James Island had a table, where I scored a little doggie poop bag dispenser in the shape of a fire hydrant, oddly not red but white. Next was Alan Laughlin from CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). I could tell he vaguely remembered me but didn’t know where from. I didn’t want to tell him I’m a lapsed CERT member. It’s a terrific program, if you’re looking for something community-minded that would help in an emergency. And you’re not too lazy to keep up with it!

Horses at Lighthouse Point.
Horses at Lighthouse Point.

The James Island Fire Department was there too, with their Fire Safety House. They were having trouble getting the smoke machine going, I think. I’ve been around enough smoke machines (80s and 90s bands loved some smoke machine action), so I didn’t wait around to see if they’d get it going.

The dedication came next. I’m going to write a whole separate article about that, so stay tuned.

The brownies and the animals

After that, several memorable moments…I ate the finest brownies made by a young lady who said she’d send me the recipe. I hope she means that! As it turns out, I had several of them, so that was lunch. See, when you’re a grown up, you can have nothing but brownies for lunch, and no one is going to say a thing about it. Oh, they’ll think something, but they won’t say anything!

Learning about starfish from the folks of Grice Marine Lab.
Learning about starfish from the folks of Grice Marine Lab.

I suddenly heard the unmistakable dulcet tones of goats, and found that there were two of them drawing the complete attention and fascination of several children. I got to pet one of them too, and touch its little horns. It leaned up against me for a moment, and I immediately thought, “My dog will be loving this new smell!”

Two horses arrived, apparently for the kids to ride at some point. I went up and introduced myself to one of them, and got to pet him/her (I didn’t check which). I wish I’d had a treat for him/her, as she/he was very polite to me.

The Grice Marine Lab folks were there with a portable marine touch tank. Seriously, that thing was wonderful. The kids were all about it, and I was too. I got to touch a puffer fish (tougher and harder than I imagined), learned how to tell the difference between a male and female horseshoe crab, and enjoyed watching kids get wide eyed learning how starfish eat a clam.

I should have gotten the honey
Honey at Fields & Pinckney Farms stand.
Honey at Fields & Pinckney Farms stand.

My next stop was at the Fields & Pinckney Farms Seeds of Hope produce stand. It’s set up on the grounds of the James Island Presbyterian Church on the corner of Fort Johnson and Folly Roads on Wednesday through Friday, 1 – 6:30 pm and on Saturday from 9 am – 6 pm. I procured one onion and one green pepper and thought about buying the honey. But I didn’t. I will have to go back on another day and get some, as it’s from a John’s Island beekeeper.

The thing about local honey is that it really helps when you’re dealing with local seasonal allergies, as I am. Not to say that it would have helped me on this particular day – I imagine it takes a while for your body to get the benefit of it. But I started getting a little headache a little after that. A day outdoors when you’re apparently allergic to the world can do that. But I had one more stop to make.

Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil
The "Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil" monkeys at Folly Consignment.
The “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” monkeys at Folly Consignment.

Folly Consignments is located on Folly Road around the corner from the spot I just left. It’s a little tricky the first time you go there figuring out how to get into their parking lot, but once you have that down, it’s a marvelous place to visit. They’re open 10 am – 5:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and then 12 – 4 pm on Sunday.

The entire house is filled with consignment items. You start in the garage, go out the back door and check out what’s inside the shed, come back into the garage, go up the steps, and go into the house proper. Every room is filled. If you need to go to the bathroom, that’s where they put all the Christmas stuff!

I saw lots of cool things, but was most drawn by the “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” trio. I almost got those little monkeys, but I knew I had another day ahead of me tomorrow and I needed to make sure my little budget would last through the weekend.

When I got home, I had a bellringer of a headache. My dog sniffed me frantically. ‘Goat and Horse?! Where have you been?!’ I took the Imitrex and the Benadryl and promptly collapsed. Stupid headaches are stupid.

Difficult decisions about children’s underthings
The Lowcountry Orphan Relief Dropbox at the Terrace Theater.
The Lowcountry Orphan Relief Dropbox at the Terrace Theater.

I started my Sunday, blessedly headache-free, with a trip to Walmart. I had a list in front of me of what the Lowcountry Orphan Relief most needs in the way of practical donations. On their website they say, “We would love new socks, underwear, toiletries (can be travel sizes), school supplies and book bags”. I opted for underwear, figuring people probably rarely ponied up for those.

It was hard to choose. The boys’ underwear was all about action heroes. The girls’ underwear was all about cartoons. I felt conflicted and ended up buying underwear that was just colorful. I know, the kids probably would have loved all that pop culture, but do I go Justice League or Marvel, Strawberry Shortcake or Descendants (seriously, a four-year-old is watching a show about the children of super villains?)?

Confusion overcome, I drove to the Terrace Theater. They have set up a box to drop off donations for Lowcountry Orphan Relief. The place was buzzing with children and parents. I think Beauty and the Beast is doing well there. I had considered taking in a movie myself, but the day was too beautiful.

Of course I went to the Farmer’s Market
Fresh pasta for sale at the Sunday Brunch Farmer's Market.
Fresh pasta for sale at the Sunday Brunch Farmer’s Market.

I walked across the street to the Sunday Brunch Farmer’s Market behind the Pour House. It’s always fun wandering around looking at all the wares and wishing I had a disposable fortune, because I would gladly drop serious money at the Farmer’s Market every single week. There’s hardly a booth there that doesn’t have something I want.

It’s really great that we’re getting into the growing season now, and there are options to buy local everywhere. This one is only open on Sunday and is worth the trip, even if just to enjoy the weather and the music, and to ogle the cool things for sale, as I did.

Best moment there: woman at one of the booths ducking down as I was taking a picture of her table. She pops back up, “No picture! I don’t have makeup on or hair done or anything!” She was beautiful, and I told her so. I got a smile for that. But no picture.

No, I didn’t have the crawfish
One of the rides for the kids at the Cajun Festival at James Island County Park.
One of the rides for the kids at the Cajun Festival at James Island County Park.

My last stop of the day was at the Cajun Festival at the James Island County Park. I have a Gold Pass, and the Festival had just started, so I got in easily, parked, and took a walk around. I imagine a few hours later it was a mad house, but at that point it was just a pretty good crowd and lots of food choices. I had very little left of my weekend budget, and I ended up spending the last of it on fried green tomatoes and aioli sauce.

I knew I wouldn’t be there long, so I didn’t really prepare like most people did. I’m pretty impressed by some of the almost military precision of the set ups I saw. People were setting up chairs and little shelters from the sun. They had their hats and their sunscreen. I had none of these things. I sat on the ground and enjoyed my snack.

Once finished, I dusted myself off and went looking for a trashcan. It was a lot harder to find than I expected. I finally found a recycling station that also had a trash can. I bet the place is an absolute mess at the end of the day, just from a lack of trashcans!

If I had come prepared like a proper festival-goer, I would have hung out for the music, but I am a happy homebody for the most part and the weekend had just about filled up my every out-of-doors need for the foreseeable future.

A brief interlude about radio stations

On this particular Sunday, all the way up Folly Road and all the way down the Riverland Highway, the Critic’s Choice was the soundtrack. Thanks, Critic!

On Sundays from 9 am – noon, I listen to a show on 105.5 FM called the Critic’s Choice. There are not many things you can rely on in the world of Charleston radio, but the Critic’s Choice is always – always! – great. Now, I love my WYLA and OHM, but on Sunday mornings the Critic has my complete attention.

It was a really great weekend to be on James Island. See the photo gallery here, because I took a whole lot more pictures.

I invite any of you who like to write to do as I did: pick a day or two when there’s a lot on the James Island calendar, have an amazing time, take a lot of pictures, and then write about it. It’s the sort of thing we will be happy to post on the Bugle! You’ll be famous!

Editorial note: You won’t be famous. But you might have some fun.


One thought on “A Weekend on James Island: From exercise machine to fried green tomato

  1. Enjoyed going around town with you in my mind. We share many of the same haunts. And get some of the honey. It’s great. My husband brought some home. Cures everything! Did you know honey lasts 3000 years???? ……Oh and thanks for the info on the radio stations……never heard of them but they sound right up my alley!

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