I have always felt very fortunate that my mom, Vivian, grew up on the Eastern Shore Virginia. Every summer we'd make the long trek from the suburbs of Dallas,Texas to teeny Nassawadox, VA (remember the speed limit back then was 55!) and spend a couple weeks enjoying the ocean, the waves, the sand, the barrier islands and the FOOD! My grandfather was a waterman so he cultivated oysters and softshell crabs. My great-aunt's neighbor would take us deep-sea fishing where we'd catch trout, flounder and the occasional nurse shark! I remember bushels of blue crabs and clams sitting in the back yard waiting to be steamed. I'd stand there with a stick and poke at the crabs, pulling them up as they grasped the end. In addition to the fresh seafood, there were turnip greens, august pears and Grandma's fried potatoes.
It was a completely different world from what I grew up in. My Aunt Rhoda's house was a big old house with minimal modern comforts a few hundred yards away from the ocean. There was no shower or tub, you bathed in your room with a basin and pitcher. There was a giant wood burning cook stove in the kitchen in addition to the ancient gas stove. She had a walk-in pantry with the "Frigidaire". The bathroom was just a commode and sink. Oh, and there was NO air conditioning, just a huge screened-in front porch.
Eventually, we stopped the annual visits. Grandma passed away away in 1986, Grandaddy came to live with us in Arkansas in 1992 and passed in 2000. The old house was sold. I would occasionally get a chance to go back, but it would be only for a few hours...just passing through. In 2009, my mom decided it was time to move back home to the Eastern Shore. Now that Matt and I are in Pittsburgh, I get the chance to visit more often; instead of a two day trip, we can make it in 9 hours.
We spent Thanksgiving at the Shore with my mom this year. She bought Matt and I tickets to an oyster roast put on by the Cape Charles Historical Society. As a child, I had only been to the Shore in the summer. Now that we were there in the late fall, oyster season was upon us! Like the clam bake, crawfish boil or catfish fry....this was a community event. One that you went to wielding a knife....don't worry, it was just an oyster knife. There were bushels and bushels of oysters...most being roasted over an open fire.