Bridges are for the Birds

Better enjoy this view now because it's gonna be gone soon.

Better enjoy this view now because it’s gonna be gone soon.

It all started with a bridge. The drawbridge that connected Hilton Head to the mainland, brought many people to the island and many changes to the landscape. What is so infuriating about some of these changes, all in the name of “progress,” is that it totally disrespects everything. Let’s start with the people. People moved to Hilton Head because they perhaps fell in love with the 12 miles of beaches. Maybe the majestic oak trees, with their thick, long limbs made for sitting and climbing caught their attention. It could have been the vast wetlands that’s home to plants and animals (and my shoe) not just seen anywhere in the United States. What ever the reason people thought the island to be beautiful, they wanted to keep that beauty all to themselves. Know how I know? The signs that say, “Members Only,” the locked or manned gates that block many entrances to many communities, the astronomically high prices of land. Newcomers just moved off the native islanders and set up shop. Took the beachfront properties. Now working on the marsh front properties. Carved out roads through the forest. Built business complexes that are only occupied for a short while then deserted for a newer and more popular space (Oh gray fields, there are so many of you.) Build communities in places where the cows used to roam and charged $6 for visiting privileges… Anyway, I need to breath for a moment because my daddy says there is no sense in getting mad about it… The animals are disrespected because the constant building encroaches upon their forests, their wetlands, their beaches. People are feeding the birds Lay’s potato chips on the beach, making them more dependent. But the animals are ones who have to be destroyed when their population “gets out of hand.” The ecology has been destroyed. That circle of life has been disrupted because progress has been put on the fast track with little respect to anything or anyone else (Where are the Peta people for these poor creatures?) All of this occurred on Hilton Head as a result of the first bridge.

Then someone had the brilliant thought to divert all of the island traffic from the communities that were a bit too…um… native. They solved that problem by building the Cross Island Expressway that connects the north end directly to the south end gated communities. So all people had to do now was pay their toll, hop on the bypass, and dart on home. Easy peasy. People were impacted when easements were needed to secure the property and someone had to look at that eyesore. It certainly wasn’t the someones with plenty of money, though. Of course the wildlife took another hit as the bridge footings needed to be erected somewhere. It took me a while to get over my disgust for this so-called island improvement.

Now I’m mad all over again because the council powers that be have joined forces with that of neighboring Bluffton, conspiring to destroy Hilton Head all of the more with grandiose plans for a “flyover.” But why? Oh yes, some said that it would be a great way alleviate traffic. Really? My transportation planning experience compels me to say no sir and no ma’am. It does not work that way. The more roads, the more traffic because people will continue to build and build, bringing more potato chip bird feeders to the island. Ask Atlanta and their 7 lanes of parking lot highway. Then I saw this thing as I was exiting the island. Construction on the footings has already started and it’s pretty ugly. I just don’t get it. It seems that people are bent on destroying the beach, the marsh, the oaks – destroying the very things that attracted them to the island in the first place. Destroying the reason why they wanted Hilton Head for themselves. Gone will be that view from the mainland of the islands in the distance. Nope. When those oaks finally open up, we will have a breath taking view of a bridge.

If you have enjoyed this post, please like and share.


Jazzy’s Beach Day Blog


My name is Jazzy and I will be three years old in one, two…um seven days. Yesterday, I went to the beach with Daddy, Mama, and my older brother. Mama led me by the hand as we walked on something called a “boardwalk” to the ocean. She said that when she was a little girl, they used to walk from the car along a footpath and that would take them to the beach. When we finally got off the boardwalk, I stepped into some soft dirt that moved under my feet. Daddy and Mama kept calling it, “sand” and there was a whole lot of it. But beyond the sand, I saw all of the water and I wanted to go right to it! I didn’t understand why Mama kept pulling me through the sand, the water was the other way! I cried and fell down to make her understand that we were going the wrong way. Mama picked me up and carried me over to where Daddy and my brother were. They were already taking off their shoes. Mama was helping me take off my shoes and shirt. Oh, she wanted to get me ready for the water. I understood then and stopped crying. Then Daddy and my brother took me by the hand and led me through the squishy, wet, sand towards the water. This wasn’t water I was used to. Usually, water came out of the faucet, came out of the fridge (I press the button when Mama isn’t looking) or shot up through the air from the ground. Sometimes it filled up the tub and I got to go in it. But this water was big. And loud. And I couldn’t see where it ended. And why was it coming at me so quickly. Daddy and my brother held my hand as I dipped my toes in. The water felt warm as it covered my feet. Then it left and the wet sand under my feet began to move. I felt like I was moving too. I squished my toes in the mud. But when that water came back at me, I made a run for it. After a little while, Daddy and my brother took me back to Mama and we had a snack at the towels. Mama and Daddy pointed at the white birds, calling them, “sea gulls.” A lady decided to feed them a snack too. I thought that was nice of her because she was feeding them my favorite food: potato chips. Mama and Daddy didn’t like that too much though. They said that potato chips aren’t good for birds. Mama also pointed at the kites in the sky. She said that when she was little, Grandpapa also used to buy her kites to take to the beach. I wanted to see the water again though, so I took Mama by the hand and together we went back through the squishy sand to the edge of the big water. I ran to the ocean, feeling Mama close behind me. The water was coming towards me again and I stopped where it couldn’t get me. Mama picked me up and dipped my toes again. The sand squished through my toes as the water left my feet. The water felt nice and warm but I liked the wet sand better. My big toe was covered in squishy sand. I wiggled it because it looked interesting covered up like that. Mama tried to get me to go in the water again but I ran from her. I wanted to stay in the wet sand but I wasn’t going back in that big water again. Mama, Daddy, and my brother took me back to the towels again and I found that dry sand was fun to play in also. I covered Mama’s legs with the dry sand. I did that until Daddy said it was time to go because the sun went away. Bye, bye beach, we’ll play another day.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share.

Daufuskie Wedding Coming this Fall!


The EBook version of Daufauskie Wedding will be coming out this fall, with the paperback to soon follow in the spring! Also don’t forget about The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, still available online for purchase!

In the meantime, please enjoy an except of Daufuskie Wedding.

Instead of having the cab take him to his condo in Buckhead, Clay gave the driver Big Mama’s address off of Old National Highway. He could have headed to the house he and Marissa bought in Fayetteville, but it didn’t feel right without her in it and Clay wanted company tonight. The cab stopped in front of the small brick rancher and Clay paid the driver before making his way (not before tripping over one Big Mama’s ceramic garden gnomes) to the front door.
“Damn!” Clay shouted as he noted the grass stain on the knee of his new trousers. He’d wanted to pack them to wear on Daufuskie Island. Now he would have to put them in the cleaners tomorrow and pay for 24-service.
“Clay is that you?” called Big Mama from inside the house. Clay knew his grandmother would be up. She had always been a night owl, never going to sleep before seeing her late night shows.
Florine Hightower or Big Mama as everyone called her, raised her five grandsons after their mother, Mary disappeared two days after giving birth to Clay. She had not even given the tiny baby a name when she packed everything she owned and left in the middle of the night. Big Mama had the difficult task of raising five small children, four of which had already shown to be almost impossible to handle even at an early age. But with her youngest grandson only days old, Big Mama looked into his tiny face, saw promise and gave him the name “Clay”. She saw him as a work of art in progress that could be molded into someone worthwhile.
Growing up, Clay had known he was different as well. Big Mama loved all of her grandsons but she was always interested in what Clay was doing and he always made her proud. While his brothers were in the streets, Clay held down a job while maintaining good grades in school. With his academic achievement, Clay was able to get a partial scholarship to Morehouse College where he had recieved his business degree. With the help of Big Mama, his Aunt Lisa (Big Mama’s youngest daughter), and an anonymous benefactor, Clay was able to cover the rest of his expenses without having to work and he had been able to totally concentrate on his studies. He interned at a prominent African American firm, HJ Russell his junior and senior year where he was eventually hired. The downtown firm paid for his MBA which, he’d obtained from Emory University.
Clay pulled open the screen door and answered his grandmother. “Hey Big Mama, I just took a spill out there.” Clay went over to Big Mama and kissed her smooth cheek. She wrapped her thick arms around his neck taking in the smoke mixed in with his cologne.
At seventy-one, Big Mama was still a vibrant woman and had not one wrinkle. She was sitting in her favorite, worn, green chair, listening to a Shirley Caesar CD. Clay, feeling the makings of a small hangover, lowered the volume just a bit before collapsing onto the flowered sofa. The plastic crinkled under his weight.
“Where you comin’ from?” Big Mama asked him.
“Uh, the guys and I decided to hang out,” Clay skirted the truth.
“Hang out, my foot. Ya’ll were watchin’ ass shakin’, that’s where you was.”
Clay opened his mouth in horror. Not for his grandmother’s language, for she had cussed them all out growing up while at the same time being Born Again more times than Clay could count. What had shocked him was the fact hat he’d been busted by Big Mama, no less. If she knew, there was no way in hell he could keep tonight’s whereabouts a secret from Marissa.
“Oh relax yo’ mind boy. You smellin’ like a still and smoke and knowin’ how yo’ brothers like to send folks off, the only place you could be is the booty club. It don’t take no genius to figure that out.”
Clay laughed. “You’re right, Big Mama.”
“So how you feelin’ Clay, ‘sides horny?”
“Big Mama…” Clay groaned with embarrassment.
“Alright, I’ll be good. But seriously, how you doin’?”
“Happy, excited…nervous…”
“Son, it means so much to me that you made your brothers groomsmen. It means so much to them too.”
“Yeah, I just hope…” Clay trailed off.
“What son? What do you hope?”
Clay did not want to finish that sentence, which ended with “they don’t embarrass me.”
“Nothing, Big Mama,” Clay answered instead. “It’s going to be fine.”
“Of course it will. Ain’t nothin’ gonna go wrong ‘long as you let God into it. You was blessed to find a woman as special as Marissa.
Clay knew he was blessed. Big Mama had wrapped her arms around Marissa as soon as she had met her. With all of the trifling women his brothers had brought up into the house, he knew that Big Mama knew the real deal when she saw it and Marissa was the real deal. Clay could see that even his brothers knew that Marissa was a catch. The day Clay found Marissa he did not know that his life was about to be completed.
It was two years ago when Clay had just finished working on a major project for an important client and needed to unwind. He decided to get a drink and listen to some jazz at the Crow’s Nest Club. A peaceful night was not to be had that Thursday evening with the club being as crowded as it was. However, Clay didn’t want to leave without having at least one drink so he found the last empty booth. He was enjoying the group, It’s All Jazz when he was approached by a tall, very attractive, woman with a carefully made-up face holding a large pink drink with an umbrella sticking out of the glass. She boldly asked if she could sit down because there weren’t any more seats.
“I heard about It’s All Jazz and I just had to come see them,” she had said to him. “I guess everyone else did too.”
“Slide on in here, girl,” he had invited. “You’re an awfully brave girl to take a chance and sit next to me.”
“Why do you bite?” The smile never left her face. In fact her smile was the first thing Clay fell in love with. It was so bright and it lit up her entire face.
“As a matter of fact I don’t,” he answered with a grin but he thought, “But I could really sink my teeth into you. Hmph, hmph, humph!” Then suddenly Clay recognized her.
“Hey I know you, you’re Marissa Gardiner. You were a Lady Vol for the University of Tennessee and now you do play-by-play commentary for the Lady Panthers.” Clay was describing her job in addition to the position she held at CNN.
“A fan, I see. I’m flattered.” And Marissa was flattered. She was used to being recognized. What she was not used to, was the totally enthralled expressions this man was wearing.
“Fan is an understatement. You practically brought the Lady Vols to the 1996 Championship single handedly!”
“I was totally in love with you!” Clay blushed after that last part slipped out but Marissa wouldn’t let Clay be embarrassed.
“Well you know my name, what’s yours?” She asked looking at him with large bright eyes.
“I’m Clay Hightower.”
“Clay…is that short for anything?”
“Nope it’s just ‘Clay’.”
“A work of art,” said Marissa flashing another smile.
From that moment on, the two were inseparable.

The Reviews for “Marshland” and “The Promise of Palmettos” are In!

If you are still not convinced that you should give Marshland and The Promise of Palmettos a read, check out reviews.

Family – Part 2

Have you ever heard that song, Family Reunion by the O’Jays? That song always takes me back to my younger days when my Dad would take us “next door” for our own family reunion. Back then, it was a one-day cookout beneath the shade trees. I can still smell the meat on the grill and the aroma wafting from the covered dishes spread out on the tables. Music would be playing in the background as we kids ate, played, looked for our names on the family tree – near the bottom, and caught up with family. Our older family members always wanted to know who we belonged to. That question was easy enough to answer. But we better know who they were as well.

Then there was the story. My father was the first person to tell it to my sister and me over the dinner table. Then I heard it again during the reunion. The story went this way: During the Civil War, our ancestors fled their mainland plantation. When they arrived at the great water with the islands in the distance, they stuffed the mouths of the babies with cotton and swam on over. That was all that was known. No one knew of their actual experiences. That story died with them. But the tale of their flight has always stayed with me. It was my husband’s idea to create a novel that would fill-in-the-blanks, and that was how Marshland was born. I could have totally missed the mark with my interpretation and crazy imagination. Or maybe I was on the right track and my ancestors helped me with my story. I would like to think it was the later. So thank you ancestors for your bravery that would earn us our island legacy. I hope I did your story justice. If you want to know how we ended up on that vast property where we now eat, dance (Most likely to that O’Jays song), and enjoy our family, I invite you to read Marshland, on Amazon.

Just click the link below.

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head (Part 3)


I got a little bit down to business on Part 2, but went for a lighter approach with these last four points. And now for Part 3…

4) Stay away from Touristy Areas where Hilton Head Islanders, who spot you wearing the t-shirt of said place(s), won’t roll their eyes at you. – Yes, I know that was a long title, but it really needs to be said. People need to know that there are other places to brag about visiting that aren’t quite so um…cliche. If you visit Hilton Head, may I point you in the direction of Roast Fish and Cornbread; Spanish Wells Seafood; The Grant’s Business Complex on Highway 278 that consists of a mini market, gas station, a diner, and fresh produce market. I also love The Crazy Crab, although I’m not a fan of seafood, so it is a great place for my family to get their fresh fish good eatin’, while I grub on the chicken.

3) Don’t Ignore Broad Creek. – While a visitor may feel inclined hang out on the south end of the island, there are some activities within the island’s interior for the whole family to enjoy:
*ZipLine Hilton Head
*Daufuskie Island Ferry

2) It takes work to find public beach access. – I alluded to this in #6. It is a crying shame that an on an island that is known for their beaches, it is difficult to find a place to get to the beach! When I was young, getting to the beach was the least of our problems. These days, out of 12 miles of beach, the public has access to maybe three places if they are outside of a subdivision. So here are the three that I know about:

*Burkes Beach – Get yourself there early because parking is limited. Or just bike there. Also, the good
thing about this beach is that there is a park nearby as well, if you want to vary your activities.

*Driessen Beach – There is more parking here, but you’ll have to pay a small fee. There is an excellent boardwalk here where you can access the beach and a small playground.

*Coligny Plaza – Again, there are parking issues, so go early. Or go during transition (You know as well as I that some beach goers prefer to go during the heat of the day and some prefer to go at dusk). If you’re lucky, there are spots close by or else search for on-street parking. If you go to Coligny, be on the look-out for an awesome oak tree. It’s a great place for a photograph.

1) Drive Carefully. – This is last, but certainly not least. There are a lot of people (and cars) on an island that is only 12 miles long and 3 miles wide. Take away public access for the majority of the island, and that’s even less space to accommodate weird driving habits from people all over the country (and world). Please take that into consideration as you are racing towards your next activity.

Many of these issues that I have counted down in Parts 1, 2, and 3 can be read about in my novels, The Promise of Palmettos, Marshland, and coming this fall… Destination Wedding.

So as you visit Hilton Head, take in the island through the eyes of an islander, considering all that I have discussed. Most importantly, enjoy your stay.

*** Update 1/25/18: Unfortunately, Roast Fish and Corn Bread has closed ☹️***

10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island (Part 1)

the bridge

For the next three blog posts, I will be counting down from 10, discussing important things that visitors need to know about visiting Hilton Head Island. Without further ado, I will get started.

10) You are on Hilton Head when you cross the bridge – Some visitors don’t realize that before mansions and condominiums, small cottages were prevalent in this once self-sufficient island. The presence of such abodes sighted when first crossing the bridge can throw off an uninformed vacationer.

9) Bluffton is not Hilton Head – On the mainland, before travelers even cross the bridge, there are several businesses with “Hilton Head” in its title. I know that this can be confusing but until you cross the bridge, you’re not on Hilton Head yet. You’re in Bluffton. In other words, Hilton Head is Hilton Head and Bluffton is Bluffton. Still confused? See #10.

8) Respect the History – Like many of the Sea Islands, sacrifices (willing and unwilling) have occurred to ensure that the island is full of endless bike trails, numerous golf and tennis courts, hotels, beautiful beach access, high-end shopping centers, and plantations (what most people call subdivisions). Respect occurs when there is an understanding that all places have a history.

This is a good place to leave off for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 of 10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island. Part 2 is where it gets a bit deeper. Hope you’re ready. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for that bridge…