Editor's Letter: Riding Out the Storm

by David DiBenedetto - December/January 2017

Weathering Hurricane Matthew and looking ahead to winter fun

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Photo by Leigh Webber

As this issue was going to press, Hurricane Matthew lashed Garden & Gun’s home base of Charleston, South Carolina, after devastating Haiti and the Bahamas and raking the Florida and Georgia coasts. Three days prior, Governor Nikki Haley had urged all residents of coastal South Carolina to evacuate, and many did. A number of folks on the G&G staff lit out for inland refuges, including the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, and a horse farm in York, South Carolina. My wife, Jenny, and I loaded up the kids (Sam, three; Rose, nine months) and our Boykin spaniel and made our way to my oldest brother’s house in Greenwood, South Carolina, where Sam rode a gentle quarter horse named Skipper D and  marveled at his uncle’s tractors. 

On Friday evening Matthew arrived on the coast, at first with blustery winds and rain. But the heavy weather soon followed. Sustained winds hit seventy-five miles per hour on Saturday, and the storm surge was six feet deep in places. Not awful by meteorological standards but strong enough to blow a steeple off of a church, topple countless trees, and push water into spots it hadn’t reached since Hurricane Hugo tore through the city in 1989. But mostly Charleston got lucky. Beach towns to the south of us, such as Edisto, did not, and it will be some time before they recover. To the north, torrential rain caused deadly flooding in North Carolina. 

As is typical with hurricanes, the day after the storm in Charleston, a preternaturally blue sky and cool fall air filled in behind Matthew’s wake. In neighborhoods around the city, the buzz of chain saws could be heard above the voices of neighbors lending an ear—and a hand—to those who needed it, all of us compelled by Mother Nature to recognize our many good fortunes. 

That Monday, the G&G staff shared hurricane stories around the coffeepot and then quickly got back to work—deadlines pay no heed to the weather. But thankfully, by the time the ink dries on this issue, hurricane season will be winding down, and talk in the office will turn to Thanksgiving menus, the duck-season opener, and Jubilee, G&G’s three-day celebration of Southern culture and craftsmanship. We’ll welcome readers to Charleston December 2–4 at the historic Charles Towne Landing, along with a number of winners of our Made in the South Awards and other notables from the pages of the magazine, including the venerable fly fishermen Flip Pallot and Chico Fernandez, whom I will have the honor of hosting for a spirited discussion on all things fishing. Speaking of good conversation, G&G regular Julia Reed will be doling out Bloody Marys and entertaining tips, and attendees will also likely bump into the style guru Laura Vinroot Poole; Hattie Johnson, the hot tamale queen of the Mississippi Delta; and the renowned gundog trainer Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels. As with any G&G event, there will be amazing food, plenty of booze, and great music. And fittingly, most of the fun will take place beneath the centuries-old moss-draped live oaks that weathered yet another hurricane season. 

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