Carl White's Life in the Carolinas

Good Ol’ Southern Porch Dogs

by Suzelle Sinclair

suzelle.sinclair@earthlink.net 

“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.”

~Orhan Pamuk

PAINTING BY SUZELLE SINCLAIR

There was a warm breeze gently circulated by ceiling fans as the afternoon drew to a close. Gracie and I had the porch to ourselves for a moment, after a delightful tour of Charleston. I am glad that I made early reservations for dinner. We were the first guests of the evening at Poogan’s Porch. Gracie rested at my feet, while I enjoyed a refreshing lavender martini.

In that moment, all was quiet. Suddenly Gracie sat up at attention. Ears perked and tail wagged gently as she tilted her head to the right and then to the left. She turned her gaze as if watching someone walk down the steps, off the porch and into the yard. Looking out onto the lawn she gave a friendly, “arf,” tilted her head again and turned to look at me as if gauging my reaction. “What is it girl?” After peeking out through the banisters for one more look out across the lawn, she laid back down at my feet.

Did Gracie just encounter the famous ghost dog and restaurant namesake, Poogan? This charming Victorian-style house is not only known for its celebrated Lowcountry cuisine, many believe that Poogan, a good ol’ Southern porch dog, still resides there.

Located on Queen Street, Poogan’s Porch was originally a charming home. Built in 1891, it remained a residence until 1976, when the last residential owners moved and the house was converted into a restaurant. Poogan, a neighborhood dog, had grown accustomed to being cared for over the years by the residents of 72 Queen Street. I am quite certain that this fluffy pup was excited by the additional and very delicious table scraps the new restaurant owners provided. Poogan presided over the renovations and when the doors opened for business, he warmly greeted the first guests. For Poogan, the porch at 72 Queen Street was clearly home. This was, and is, Poogan’s porch.

Gracie and I learned of Poogan’s tale as we were entertained by a Charleston ghost tour. I was fascinating by the intriguing history and colorful stories. Gracie was amused by the new pup pals that shared the tour and the many new sights, sounds, and smells of Charleston.

What a rich and colorful history is found in this port town. Some of the most famous pirates, such as Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet and Anne Bonney, have close ties to Charleston. The Gullah culture has been preserved not only by the English-based creole language, but also through storytelling, cuisine, music, folk beliefs and crafts. The captivating Rainbow Row, a row of pastel-colored historic homes, were built in 1740. While the true reason behind the unique colors is unknown, there are many speculations. Regardless of the reason, Rainbow Row reflects the colorful culture of Charleston. These are just a small part of Charleston’s history and culture.

As I savored my fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese and, of course, bacon jam, I shared a bite of my biscuit with Gracie in her souvenir Poogan’s Porch dog dish. My mind goes to the many good ol’ porch dogs and canine companions that have kept us company. There is something so comforting about a sweet pup’s company. Even the idea of a warm greeting from a ghost dog isn’t scary.

As Gracie and I walked down the steps, she paused and turned to offer a final friendly “arf.” I too bid farewell to Poogan, “Bye, bye Poogan, you good boy.” Perhaps it was my imagination, but as we turned to go, I heard a sweet “arf” in reply. We stopped at the gate and I shared what I thought I had just heard with an older man who stopped to say hello. In his delightful Gullah accent he replied, “Oh, dat dere jus’ be dat ol’ Poogan, he baks if he like ya.”

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Visit Poogan’s Porch online at www.poogansporch.com. To make a reservation, call 843-577-2337.

The Lavender Martini at Poogan’s Porch will conjure summer daydreams with just one sip. Luckily for you, this recipe can be made at home with just a few simple ingredients. Its perfect for porches and ideal for staycations. The Lavender Martini is the type of cocktail thats too good to enjoy just one, so if you decide to go ahead and make a pitcher – well, we wont tell.

 

First, you’ll make the lavender simple syrup. You’ll need:

• 2 tablespoons of dried lavender or 3 tablespoons of fresh lavender blossoms

• 1 cup of white sugar

• 1 cup of water

 

• Combine lavender, white sugar, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

• Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.

• Remove from heat and cool at room temperature for approximately one hour.

• Strain lavender from the syrup using a small colander.

• Store your lavender simple syrup in the fridge for up to two weeks.

(Hint: use your remaining lavender simple syrup for coffees and teas, or more martinis!)

 

Now for the cocktail! You’ll need:

• 1½ ounces of vanilla vodka

• ¾ ounce of lemon juice

• ½ ounce of lavender simple syrup

 

• Combine all ingredients in a shaking tin with a scoop of ice.

• Shake well.

• Strain into a chilled martini glass.

• Make it pretty! Garnish with a fresh lavender sprig.

CHARLOTTE WEATHER