Cape San Blas

Breakfast was a grand production. And my girlfriend, Jamie, was in charge of making the biscuits. She was fixing her Granny’s recipe. I almost proposed.

Cape San Blas—The Gulf of Mexico is outside my window. I am eating breakfast. These are some very good biscuits.

Biscuits are the reason I am writing this. I love biscuits, you see. When I was a boy, my mother made them by dusting the counter with flour and stamping dough with a drinking glass. Hers were big enough to be used in professional wrestling matches.

Right now, my wife and I are in Cape San Blas, staying in a rented beach house with the windows open. The kitchen is tiny, but my wife managed to whip up magic.

In its lifetime, the cape has seen its share of hell. Four historic lighthouses have come and gone due to hurricanes. Storms have been beating this peninsula ever since Adam’s heyday.

Recently, Hurricane Ivan, Katrina, and of course Michael. But you can hardly tell it. The remote cape looks as lovely as it always has.

“If you live in Cape San Blas,” said one local man, “you expect things to get rough, but we don’t worry too bad, that’s life, man. You get your tools and rebuild.”

There’s something poetic about that.

Years ago, I had the first breakfast my wife ever prepared for me, right here in Cape San Blas. We weren’t married. I was a younger man.

My father had been dead for years. I was damaged goods, but somehow I managed to get a girlfriend. I was staying with her family in a rental house on the cape. That first breakfast lives in my memory.

Her father was frying sausage, her mother was eating a grapefruit with sugar, and her brother was getting his fishing rods ready.

There was an old man in a recliner, they told me he was a politician once. He wore seersucker. He was reading the Port Saint Joe Star.

Breakfast was a grand production. And my girlfriend, Jamie, was in charge of making the biscuits. She was fixing her Granny’s recipe and I almost proposed.

My mother used to claim that the way to a man’s heart was through his digestive tract. She said if a girl wanted a man to love her, it wasn’t hard. All she had to do was mix flour, sugar, butter, and eggs together and pretty soon a ring would magically appear on her finger and she’d start popping out babies.

Years later, I would discover that my mother was very wise.

After breakfast that day, Jamie’s brother took us fishing on his boat. We trolled Saint Joseph Bay. I caught two tripletail and a sunburn. That night, we cleaned fish, then Jamie fried the filets in peanut oil. For side dishes she made biscuits and cheese grits.

It was a night to remember. The food, the open windows, the sound of the Gulf, a breeze rolling through the house. Before anyone touched their forks, the politician bowed his head and said a few words.

Then we ate. And ate. And ate. Until I finally, died from overeating.

At that meal, I probably made a lot of important life decisions. I probably thought things like:

“I am never going to let this woman leave my line of vision.”

Or: “I wonder if this woman likes dogs? Or kids? How does she feel about NASCAR?”

Jamie and I walked the beach that night, we let our feet get wet in the Gulf. And I felt like I was brand new with her.

My life has not been a pretty one. In fact, my childhood was downright ugly. Hurricanes have hit me and my family, and torn down our lighthouses.

But looking at those stars hanging above the dunes of sea oats, I told myself this was probably what the doorstep of Heaven looked like.

I asked this woman what she was thinking.

She said, “Well, I was thinking about how nice the cape is. What about you? What’re you thinking?”

“Oh, I was just wondering what you were doing for the rest of your life?”

Oh my God. What a stupid, corny thing to say. How embarrassing.

They weren’t even my words. They were song lyrics from a Michel LeGrand album. I remembered them from a record my friend’s mother used to listen to when she smoked Winstons and cross stitched scripture verses onto dinner napkins.

But I’m not sorry I said those words. Not after all these years. It felt good. Speaking in song lyrics.

The cape does that to a man.

I remember it all. Here, the breeze blowing across a breakfast table. The seersucker. I remember a kid who used to be cynical about all this world offered. Who almost gave up on things like love, and people, and happiness. A kid who rediscovered his own life. Who learned that people can be rebuilt, just like beaches.

I forgot what I was talking about.

Oh, yes. Biscuits. These are very good biscuits.

27 comments

  1. Karen - May 3, 2019 8:50 am

    This is beautifully written. You have captured all of our hearts. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Estelle - May 3, 2019 9:03 am

    Love your illustrations
    My mom mad biscuits every day. Biscuits with butter and homemade jelly. Biscuits with fried chicken and gravy,and biscuits with country ham and red eyed gravy. If breakfast had biscuits, bacon and eggs then dinner would be pork chops with mashed potatoes, pinto beans and cornbread.
    Supper might be of leftovers from dinner. Or sometimes we would have spaghetti with meat sauce and soda crackers. We ate good food because our parents did hard labor. They were on there feet and moving about all day. We ate much what we grew in our small garden. You ate what was put on the table or you went without any other food. You didn’t worry about calories. Hard work kept you from getting fat . Those were good days in our memories. I wouldn’t trade my youth any different at all.

    Reply
    • Maxine - May 3, 2019 11:55 am

      Amen, Estelle. I spent my 1st 8 1/2 years in central Kentucky under those same wonderful conditions. And believe all children should be given that same opportunity before tackling their adulthood. I believe those who were have been blessed..

      Reply
  3. Jill - May 3, 2019 11:25 am

    I can almost taste those biscuits and inhale that sea air.

    Reply
  4. Liz Watkins - May 3, 2019 11:40 am

    Just perfect!
    Liz Watkins

    Reply
  5. Carol Heidbreder - May 3, 2019 12:28 pm

    You’ve done it again! I’m a Gulf Coast girl and ate that food, walked those beaches and you being it all back to me! Thank you!

    Reply
  6. Joe Patterson - May 3, 2019 12:37 pm

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Leigh - May 3, 2019 1:21 pm

    It’s not everybody who knows what a tripletail is! Fine eating!

    Reply
  8. Lori Brown - May 3, 2019 1:32 pm

    Thank you Sean. I feel like I may have lived there in a past life. When I think of our vacations there, I am at peace and want to go back immediately. And then, there are biscuits, which make me happy too!

    Reply
  9. Karen - May 3, 2019 1:55 pm

    This is a link to a recent news story about two teenagers, caught in a current in the ocean, who drifted out 2 miles. They decided to pray, and were rescued by a boat named “Amen”.
    I thought of your column “Holding Hands” and thought you would want to see this.
    https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/02/us/teens-rescued-amen-trnd/index.html

    Reply
  10. Shelton A. - May 3, 2019 2:28 pm

    My compliments to for Jamie’s biscuits…and God bless you and Jamie (and the dogs).

    Reply
  11. Phillip Saunders. - May 3, 2019 3:05 pm

    You sure made the right decision that night. Keep telling her the truth: that she is beautiful, wise, and wonderful, and the biscuits will keep appearing because she obviously thinks you are worth the price of flour, butter, eggs, and elbow grease.
    BTW, Cape San Blas IS a truly neat place. i have spent many fine days on St. Joseph Bay, fishing and scalloping.

    Reply
  12. Jack Darnell - May 3, 2019 4:48 pm

    Love the story. I wasn’t that poetic, but I did get the right girl, I am glad you did. SWEET. We enjoyed the read,
    Sherry & jack

    Reply
  13. Jack Darnell - May 3, 2019 4:51 pm

    PS: Biscuits? Yeah Sherry did learn to make the best. I love ’em biscuits…

    Reply
  14. Edna B. - May 3, 2019 6:21 pm

    And my dad told me that every good woman had to know how to make good gravy. So he taught me! You have a wonderful time, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  15. Janet Mary Lee - May 3, 2019 6:48 pm

    i love that God knew you were going to use your Mom’s friend’s record lyrics! He has Blessed you both! Never let go!!!

    Reply
  16. Donnie - May 3, 2019 8:22 pm

    Sean, so live how you speak about your wife. Good to hear the love and commitment.

    Reply
  17. Bill T - May 3, 2019 11:58 pm

    Enjoyed your piece about biscuits and Cape San Blas. Since I’m an old Alabama country boy I won’t talk about biscuits, now that I have to buy frozen ones (my wife has many talents but biscuit making was/is not one)
    But I want to give a shameless plug for a young couple that owns a business there. Our family home, after being sold was allowed to fall into disrepair. This young couple bought it and restored it and brought back the love in it by having two boy babies (a third after moving to Florida). They then moved to the Cape and he built a restaurant. It was laterally destroyed by the hurricane and he is now back in business.
    So please consider stopping by Skully’s Low Country Boil on the Cape and tell ’em I sent you.

    Reply
  18. Linda Moon - May 4, 2019 12:57 am

    Biscuits and song lyrics spoken…..these are a FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS. I SIMPLY REMEMBER BY FAVORITE THINGS AND THEN I DON’T FEEL SO BAD.

    Reply
  19. Jim Durham - May 4, 2019 12:58 am

    Why doesn’t your email have the artwork?

    Reply
  20. Ann Marie Bouchet - May 4, 2019 1:32 am

    You are a good, good man.

    Reply
  21. Connie Havard Ryland - May 4, 2019 2:14 am

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  22. Charaleen Wright - May 4, 2019 4:01 am

    Reply
  23. Melanie - May 4, 2019 6:11 am

    Who’s her favorite driver?🙂 🏁

    Reply
  24. HJ Patterson - May 5, 2019 6:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing the story Sean but a good southerner would always share the recipe as well. I’m sure Jaime would oblige.

    Reply
  25. Robert Chiles - May 6, 2019 8:20 pm

    I saw a billboard once that said, “A Bagel is a Poor Excuse for a Biscuit.”

    Reply
  26. Ronnie - May 10, 2019 7:47 am

    Ah, cheese grits. My wife makes tomato cheese grits, and her Yankee friends at work that won’t eat regular grits tear them up. I’ll get the recipe from her if you want, bet Jamie could whip them up just as good!!

    Reply

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