First Day of Summer and Shrimping in South Carolina

It’s the first day of summer — summer solstice on the calendar although unofficially summer began with Memorial Day. Pools are open, hot summer days are here, and vacations are in full swing.

As I watered flowers on the deck this warm morning in the Shenandoah Valley, my mind drifted back to another first day of summer when my husband and I, along with our 16-month-old son, went to visit with Virginia friends who were living at the time in Charleston, S.C.

On June 21, the first day of summer, we started out early as our friends took us in their boat to explore Charleston Harbor and visit historical Fort Sumter on a small piece of land in the Atlantic Ocean. We spent the morning walking its pathways, exploring fortified areas, and absorbing the history of it all.

Leaving Fort Sumter, we pointed the boat toward the South Carolina coastline and made our way into one of the delta inlets for some shrimping, a great pastime for our friends, and something that was about to become a new experience for us.

We found a nice place with no one around and anchored the boat, then spent the next hours slathering on suntan lotion to fend off the sun’s rays, picnicking on deck, swimming with our little boy in his life jacket, and waiting for the water to recede as the time for low tide approached.

The delta flats have canals cut into them where the water rushes out with low tide … and that is where we turned our attention. Jumping overboard with nets in hand, we stretched the nets across those canals to catch the shrimp that were being washed to sea in the ebbing tide.

Shrimp were plentiful and we quickly loaded our nets, emptied them into five-gallon buckets on deck, and repeated as we hauled in enough shrimp to fill all the buckets. Since we then had plenty of time to wait until the tide returned to once again float the boat, our time under the hot sun was spent removing shrimp heads before icing them down for the ride back to dock.

The experience made an impression on me because we commented several times throughout that day that it was the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, and it was very hot on the salt water — mid 90s with barely a breeze. Thank goodness for all that water to cool off with frequent dips overboard.

It was a memorable event that I recalled today while enjoying this first day of summer in western Virginia under cloudy skies, temps in the low 80s, and an afternoon of thunderstorms on the agenda.

Both memories are keepers.

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