Palmetto Islands County Park

It’s time to start exploring the local parks. I started yesterday with the Palmetto Islands County Park.

What a find!

Here’s the start of one of the many trails in this treasure of a park.

This “blue” trail runs about a mile out to a fishing pier. Here it is further into the woods:

The saw palmetto is a prominent understory shrub in these low country woods and can form dense thickets in oak and pine forests. It provides protection and food for forest creatures, is very hardy, and can grow very tall if not cut back.

There is a VERY tall observation tower that shows a full view of the Lowcountry tidal channels that surround the islands that nestle within this terrain.

I climbed to the top. Of course I did.

Here’s a video of the tidal channels, which are such a rich part of these coastal lowlands. These channels are huge filters, provide habitat for all sorts of creatures, and are full of fish. It is about half-tide, with the tide going out. And you can see the wooded islands that are higher ground.

A wooden boardwalk crosses some of the low country marsh, and on the other side I surprised a group of fiddler crabs occupying the muddy, wet path in the woods. They ran too fast for me to get a picture.

This path reconnected to the blue path, which moved toward its end at the fishing pier and the pavilion that ran alongside a channel. Here, too, were public bathrooms.

Here’s the path to the fishing pier. Further back on the path a man on a bicycle passed me, and he had been fishing.

And here’s a picture from out on the pier, where I could see how fast the outgoing tidal current was running.

On the way back to my car, I noticed, several times, some small yellow flowers on the path. I looked up and could see a vine in the trees above my heads. When I got home I googled the flowers and discovered they are Carolina Jasmin, the state flower.

BUT, this plant is NOT in the true Jasmin family, which is edible and used to make fragrant teas and perfumes. The Carolina Jasmin flower is fragrant, but poisonous. And it can cause a rash on the skin if picked up. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up one of the flowers to smell it. Some sort of sixth sense at work I guess.

I was hungry when I got home and made my local, stone-ground low country grits, sautéed my collards in raw butter, and baked a cod fillet.

And while the grits cooked, I made a batch of blender drinks with fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and some ginger. I had a glass for my dessert.

Leftover grits are so useful. I’ll cut some squares out of this pan when it cools, wrap them in wax paper, and freeze them for future meals. Squares of grits are easy to heat in the oven with a bit of butter topping them–or fried slightly in a pan. They are also great topped with fried or scrambled eggs for a meal.

AND, there is absolutely NO COMPARISON between these local, stone-ground grits with their lovely texture and the mass produced ones in a grocery store. You would have to live here or order grits online to have this treat. NO COMPARISON.