by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esquire
Living on the Coast, or “below I-10,” we’ve gone through a lot of changes over the years. But one thing has remained the same.
For some, salt is just another seasoning, albeit a rather important one.
For a native Gulf Coast-ian, it’s a way of life.
Salt rolls in on the gray waves of the Gulf. It gives life to the millions of sea creatures that fill our waters, our boats and our bellies.
It’s in the food we eat. Gumbo. She-crab stew. Fried mullet.
It elevates a simple glass of grapefruit juice from merely ordinary to extraordinary. It bursts in our mouths and sends spasms of joy through us when even a light layer is sprinkled on the first ice cold slice of watermelon of summer. It lines the rim of our glasses, seasons and preserves the game we hunt, and holds a place of honor on our dinner tables.
It’s in the air we breathe. There is even a term for it….the salt line.
I left the Coast as a 17-year-old college student in 1990, yet I brought that salt with me. It was in the slight drawl in my voice, the almost New Orleans street slang meeting back country redneck twang that always signaled that I wasn’t from “around there.” It was sprinkled in the recipes in the small notebook I’d gleaned from watching my mom cook over the years. It was in the tears I cried those first months after I left Biloxi, those nights I longed to return to my familiar home.
And those same tears that always sprang to my eyes when my car turned south to return home.
And unless rain was pounding on my windshield, the ritual never changed.
Passing through Wiggins, a town less than an hour from Biloxi, I always lowered the windows.
“Wait for it,” I would murmur, letting my left hand trail out in the wind.
“I can almost smell it. There,” I would sigh, taking a deep breath and pulling the wet, salty air into my lungs. “The salt line.”
You will smell it before you actually see it.
That moment when you realize that soon, land will become salty water. The moment when the humidity and the mud from the channels surrounding the barrier islands overcome the dry landlocked smell of pine trees and grass of central Mississippi. The bumps never failed to rise up on my arms, and I would sometimes automatically reach over to shut off my air conditioning…before I remembered…I wasn’t cold. I was responding to that deep internal pull that guides every Biloxi native back home. My internal compass was telling me that I was heading in the right direction.
Since I moved back home six years ago, I’ve spent as much time as I can on our beaches…and last weekend, I sat on the veranda at a local restaurant and stared out at the dark, quiet water. I shook my head, realizing that, while these are not the same sands that I strolled as a scared but hopeful high school senior in 1990, these are the same salty waters that reached out to me over the years, slowly increasing their pull until I finally stopped resisting and let them guide me home.
Sipping a glass of sweet iced tea, I felt a trickle of sweat roll down my forehead as a waitress placed a dozen oysters in front of me. I smiled as I looked at the offering.
A dozen perfect ovals, open and waiting for me.
All nestled in a bed of salt.
From The Blue Jean Lawyer, Tina, and her amazing Seymour Law Firm, PLLC staff…Katie, Jon, Dawn, Linda, Cheryl, and Barbi…we wish you a wonderful and “salty” New Year.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions at (228)224-6781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.