Musings from the Darkroom: Dog Days

The whippoorwill singing atop the live oak by the lake can barely be heard above the katydids, the rumbling of offshore storms and the hum of the mosquito magnet working overtime in the backyard’s windward corner.  The slow, yellow-green blinking of lightenin’ bugs seems abruptly switched on and the white flashes of the approaching storms fill the impending darkness as the retreating sun de-saturates dusk’s canvas.  Even at this time of the evening the temperature remains oppressive while the seasonal sou’westerly trade winds keep the humidity palpable.  Streams merge with tributaries that form rivers of sweat flowing south across our nearly naked bodies as we bask in the sauna that is August in Florida.  We are deep in the dog days of summer.  And, making it official, there in his normal evening perch in the foxtail palm sits the mockingbird, songless.  Relentless they are, these dog days of summer.  It seems they will never end.

Mockingbirds sit out this harshest part of the summer.  But no, we aren’t so smart.  We continue suffering our daily activities, wondering how anything might have ever been done in the deep south with clothes on and without air-conditioning…or a blender and ice.  Blended, frozen libations in overpriced insulated plastic tumblers and the occasional dip in the pool are the sum of our attempts at mediating the endless onslaught of dog days.  It’s a difficult battle, but one we are willing to wage.  One made easier by the knowledge that heat and humidity do not require a shovel.  I’ll let y’all know when the mockingbird starts singing again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Shot from inside a room cut with steam hoses into the Oberer Grindelwaldgletscher (upper glacier at Grindelwald, Switzerland).  Canon F-1N exposure unrecorded on Kodak Ektachrome 100 slide film.  Summer 1987.

Offshore Storms

Offshore storms taking on pale reds in high, late morning light.

I hate to keep doing this to y’all, but Madiera Beach and Gulf Boulevard are one of my regular motorcycle rides and just 15 minutes from the house.  I do love living in Florida.  Don’t be a hater.

The Jose Gaspar

Tampa’s own 165′ steel replica of a buccanner’s ship, the Jose Gaspar berthed on historical Bayshore Boulevard.

The Jose Garpar’s conquest legend.  The ship was commissioned in 1954.  It appears that the 1986 bounty must have involved more than taking the mayor hostage and keeping the key to the city.

Gulf Coast Oyster Stew


For me, being from Alabama, classic oyster stew is defined by Wintzell’s Oyster House at their historic downtown location on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama.  My father was from Mobile and whenever back in the city, stopped there every chance he could.  I learned to eat oysters as a young child in every way they serve them at Wintzell’s:  Bienville, Rockefeller, Monterey, grilled or as they identify the more traditional forms, “fried, stewed and nude.”  I like them all, but sometimes I crave them in a milk stew.

This is my version of classic gulf coast oyster stew.  It is not chowder, is thinner than chowder and does not contain potatoes.  It is in no way low fat, but it is good.

Oyster Stew

3 tbs sweet crème butter (salted)

2 tbs EVO

1 clove garlic (minced)

2 small green onions (1 tbs tender white part minced, 1 tbs tender green chopped)

8 oz shucked oysters (keep the juice)…these are from Apalachicola, FL, small but tasty

2 cups whole milk

Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning

Lightly sauté garlic and onion in butter and EVO on med high heat until soft.  Lightly drain oysters just before cooking (remember to save the juice) and cook with aromatics until edges wrinkle and separate (photo 2).

Add milk and oyster juice and season to taste.  Light salt and pepper is classic, but I like to season with a couple of shakes of Cavender’s all-purpose Greek seasoning.  Cook until hot.  Don’t scald milk.  Make sure there is enough butter so it can be seen floating on the top of the hot stew.  If you wish, garnish with a little julienned green onion or chopped chives.   Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal with fresh French or Italian bread for dipping.