When all the stars in my life align properly in any given January, I get to take a week off from my routine and traipse through the Low County of South Carolina on horseback, looking at Bald Eagles, black squirrels, bouncy white tail deer, and magnificent dogs. This is a week of serenity in nature punctuated by an occasional shot. The birds are mostly safe with me in pursuit, though following these dogs and the men who train them through a marsh or pine stand is a true privilege.
While in South Carolina, we are treated to a wonderful Low Country tradition, the oyster roast. The process could not be any simpler. Fire, oysters, steam, oyster knife, eat. Our fire man and oyster chef, Earl, talked to me about the relative usefulness of burlap or fluffy bath towels for the steaming process, but that is just about the only choice involved.
Oysters are bi-valves. “Valve” refers to the shell, and it is a “bi-valve” because there are 2 shells. They are filter feeders, meaning they suck nutrients out of the water through the shell and consume them. Oysters are in the precarious position of being the most natural means of balancing the content of any waterway because they each filter an extraordinary amount of water each day, and suffering the effects of being inadvertently forced to try to filter some of the waste that we let go to the waters.