Happy New Year…Or Not!

Saturday, December 29th (my birthday, by the way!), I traveled to St. George Island for the New Year’s holiday with my two friends Brenda and Pat.  We were there for fun in general, with the high point being the bonfire on the beach on New Year’s Eve.  The first order of business on the first evening was to go to the Blue Parrot for oysters.  We set out at about 7:00 P.M., when it’s quite dark this time of year.

Like almost every house on the island except the very old ones, the house is on stilts to protect it from flooding during hurricanes or tropical storms, so it has to be accessed via stairs.  From the door, there is one set of steps leading to a landing.  From the landing, the steps split into two “wings” leading to one side of the house or the other.  While descending that first set of steps from the door, I missed the last step.  Just. One. Step. I fell in a heap onto the landing, twisting as I went.  This all happened so fast I wasn’t even sure, really, what had happened.  It was like, one minute I was walking down the stairs, the next minute I was sitting on the landing holding my ankle, going Ow! Ow! Ow!

If I’d had any sense (which clearly, I don’t), I would have turned right around and gone back into the house.  But I proceeded down the steps, with Pat’s help, and went for oysters.  It’s the perfect time of year and the perfect temperature for the world-famous Apalachicola Bay oysters.  Eating those dozen raw oysters was my last happy moment of 2012.

Again with Pat’s help, or maybe Brenda’s, I had to climb back up the whole set of stairs into the house.  At least at that point, I did the right thing.  I elevated my leg and put ice on it.  My ankle, by that time, was swollen like a balloon.

I’ve never broken a bone before so I didn’t really know what to look for.  But by the next morning, which was Sunday, I had a very strong feeling that my ankle was broken rather than just sprained.  The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t walk at all.  I could barely stand up.  I knew I had to go to the Emergency Room.  The question was, how to get out of the house?

So we did the only thing possible…we called 911.  The St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department came and carried me down the steps in a special chair built for that purpose.  I have a picture, but WordPress does not seem to want me to share it for some reason.  I’ll have to investigate that later.

The only person on duty that morning was the Fire Chief, Jay, and he called in another volunteer to help–primarily because the chair was in her vehicle.  Jay came again two more times, once to get me back into the house after visiting the ER, and a final time to get me out of the house to come back to Tallahassee.  Unfortunately, these last two times, he came alone, so that poor Pat had to do rescue duty without having volunteered for it.

So after being carried from the house, Brenda, Pat, and I piled into Brenda’s SUV, or well, I didn’t exactly pile.  Can I tell you how hard it is to get into a Ford Expedition with an injured leg?  I’m short, so it’s a challenge for me even normally.   We headed to the nearest town with an ER, namely, Apalachicola itself.  The county seat of Franklin County, Florida.  Population as of 2000–2,234.  This was not going to be high tech medical treatment.  But the only alternative was to go back to Tallahassee, which I refused to do.  And not just for stubborn reasons.

Apalachicola is about 9 miles from St. George Island.  Tallahassee is 80.  If I had gone back to Tallahassee I would have been alone, without Pat and Brenda and the Volunteer Fire Department to help me.  Worse, if Brenda took me back she would likely have gone on to return home herself to Jacksonville.  Therefore missing the main purpose of our visit–the bonfire.  I didn’t see why their vacation should be ruined too.  It would have made me feel worse than I already did.

I now see that this post must be done in installments.  Next epis0de:  the Emergency Room.


7 responses to “Happy New Year…Or Not!

  1. I know the Blue Parrot well glad at least you had some oysters, but sorry for the painful price you had to pay. I completely understand and can identify with descending stairs. I am visually challenged now, going down stairs is my most difficult assignment. Hope you recover soon.

  2. Thanks, pt. The Blue Parrot, unlike many sort of “touristy” places, is completely deserving of its fame. One of the first things I did when I got back to Tallahassee is call the owner of the house. There are probably a couple of safety improvements he could make, but I wanted him to know I did not hold him responsible. As a presumably competent adult, I consider it my job to exercise caution when doing things like walking down steps in the dark.

  3. Goodness! I don’t think I’ve ever had really good oysters at a proper place like that, I should put that on my bucket list.

    I shall carry on reading your saga now…

  4. Oh for sure you should, Vanessa! The Blue Parrot might be a little far for you to travel 🙂 But surely there is somewhere near you that has just the right environment as I’ve described it above for the perfect oysters. Apalachicola Bay is sort of an accident of nature, with all the necessary ingredients, including cool water temperatures during the winter months. There is a saying here that you should only eat raw oysters in months with an “r” in them, in other words, September through April. However, I usually don’t eat them except from November through January, and I might push that to February if the weather remains cool enough.
    A lucky perk of living as close as I do is that we can get fresh oysters from there even here in the city. But there’s something about having them at the Blue Parrot, which is right on the beach. Also, knowing that you love seagulls–the Blue Parrot does something unique that I’ve never seen before. They have an outdoor seating area, and they have strings stretched above it in a sort of criss-cross pattern. And this works to keep the seagulls off the tables and the diners. I have no idea why this works–perhaps the birds are afraid they’ll get captured, like in a fishing net?

    • It’s crazy really because I live about half an hour from a town called Whitstable which is one of the best places in the UK to get oysters. It’s famous for them them, people come from far and wide for them and they have an annual oyster festival, so I really have no excuse! I love seafood as well. The first time I tried oysters they were out of a can and were in a really horrible sauce, and even though I knew that wasn’t representative of good oysters, the taste of the sauce put me off the whole idea for a while. Then I tried fresh ones at a Las Vegas buffet, but they were really not good (I know that because people who knew about oysters were saying – don’t bother with those oysters!). So anyway, I should make a point to go to one of the Whitstable restaurants that is well known for having great oysters and finally try some good ones!

  5. In other months, I’ll eat fried oysters or Oysters Rockefeller. I’ve also had a dish called Oysters Diablo, which is oysters broiled with butter and lots of very hot spices like cayenne pepper.

  6. Oh my, Vanessa–Whitstable sounds perfect! And now is the perfect time of year for you as well. I don’t know what the traditional way of serving them is in the UK, but here, raw oysters are always served with slices of lemon, cocktail sauce (for which they give you extra horseradish), and regular saltine crackers. Also usually a bottle of hot sauce on the side. Some people eat them on the cracker. I eat a cracker between every two or three oysters. I squeeze them with lemon juice, dip them in the cocktail sauce, and down the hatch! Things to look for: the oysters should be plump (but not so big that you can’t swallow them without chewing), smell fresh like the sea, and have a slight saltiness. And of course they should be cold.
    Were those oysters you had from a can smoked oysters, by any chance? If so, I think I know what you mean about the sauce. I used to eat them, and didn’t mind it so much, but lost my taste for them. And I would never eat raw oysters in Vegas! The further you get from the ocean, the more things can go wrong with their handling. Here they just pull up to the dock in a refrigerated truck, and drive them straight to the city. You could probably have them where you live as well, as close as you are to Whitstable, but again, there is something about eating them at the beach. You could go there and make it a romantic getaway for a day! I’ll look forward to hearing about your oyster adventure!
    And finally, I swear this will be my last poetic ode to oysters, you should try them different ways. Oysters Rockefeller are seriously yummy, but you have to like spinach.

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