Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snead’s Ferry is the place for fresh fish

We’re back in Indiana after a glorious week on the beach on Topsail Island, North Carolina.  It was awesome!  Though we have traveled to the Outer Banks in the past, this year was a new adventure for us.  We went to southern North Carolina and rented a house on the beach of North Topsail Island.  
 That meant that the ocean temperature was warm enough for even me to venture in several times.  I spent a record amount of time hanging out at the beach, boogie boarding, and collecting treasures that had washed up on shore.  I didn’t take any work with me, as in no fibers except the clothes I wore.  I did take along my pencil crayons and a sketchbook and had some wonderful opportunities for plein air sketching. 

Of course thoughts of art are never far away.  I did find a couple of types of beach rock that are going to be perfect for artwork.  One type is known locally as mother stones.  These are rocks with many smooth holes in them.  We collected them before we knew what they were, but we learned all about them on our visit to the Missiles and More Museum.  We had a delightful and informative chat about the local beach artifacts with the two curators.   
We learned that the stones were revered by ancient cultures as a talisman of fertility.  From my perspective, they’re awesome ‘beads’ to use in weavings.  We also collected Precambrian quartz discs, washed smooth by the ocean like sturdy beach class.  Some of them were almost transparent while some possessed oxidized or reduced iron that tinged them red or grey.   
I’m not sure what I’m going to use these for, but rest assured I’ll find something.  We also learned about fossilized shark’s teeth that are common the island.  They’re black, sharp and shiny.  Once we knew to look for them, though, we found them all over.

One of the things I really looked forward to was being able to buy fish right off the fishing boats in the neighboring town of Snead’s Ferry.  What a great name for a town!  We discovered Mitchell’s, and like the seagulls, we leaned to come when the boats were returning with fresh fish and shrimp around nine in the morning.   
We got to see the shrimp unloaded and learned how to clean and prepare them.  They were amazing sautéed in butter and garlic, tasting more like lobster than shrimp.  We got to pick out the fish we wanted from the laundry baskets full of ice most days.  
 Even when it didn’t come from the boat, we had amazing fresh fish every day!  We tried redfish, mullet, sea trout, pompano, croaker, spot, flounder, bluefish, redfish and a big black drum on the last night that Jacob declared as his favorite.   

The pompano was a huge hit in our only fish fry—mmm, was that ever good!  Jim and Tommie caught spot and croaker off the pier, then bluefish, flounder and sharks in the surf.  If I ever retire from Bloomington I want to move to Snead’s Ferry.  Even the name just says it all.  Our whole north Topsail Island vacation played out at a slower pace than our trips to the Outer Banks around Corolla.  
 The houses don’t have pools and rarely have hot tubs, and the people we interacted with were more down-to-earth than the more tourist-oriented folks on the Outer Banks.   I’d like to say it’s good to be back in Bloomington, but I wouldn’t mind still being in North Carolina! 

Now that I’m back in town and settled in, my focus is on finishing some pieces for the Des Moines show in late June.  High on my list is my large format piece that features a path through the woods piece.  I’ve been crocheting the dimensional portion of the path to create the base, which projects forward about ten inches to support my tree trunks.  

 Next I’ll needle felt the path on top of the base.  At that point I’ll be ready to assemble the piece—I already have the tree trunks, branches and crocheted leaf clumps waiting to become trees.  I’ll be glad to pack that one up for art fairs and ultimately off to a good home. 

This week features more family news than art news.  Still, I need mention a couple of other things.  We did find fresh local blueberries at a roadside farmstand.  That means I got a pie!  There was no pie dish, so it ended up in a small casserole dish.  There was a lot of filling and not so much crust, which I liked.  Jacob got into baking on the trip, thanks to Mrs. Tamborrino’s Emeril cooking project.  Jacob came with a book full of class favorite recipes. 
 He made gulab jamun (little deep fried milk and butter balls, soaked in cardamom-flavoured sugar syrup).  Yum!  At the end of the trip I made ‘Low Tide’ cookies to use up all the left over baking supplies.  They were just perfect as a snack food on our trip home.  All the flights were on time, our luggage followed us, and we got home at a reasonable hour.  Let the summer begin!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

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