Snowy Grouper

On a late Saturday morning my cousin and I went shopping for dinner, stopping first at a Publix for some vegetables and hummus, but passing on the fish, which didn’t look all that fresh, leading us to continue the search nearby at a fishmonger’s on the river in Southport, a small shack with plank floors and the back wall open to shimmering, steely blue water, a confluence of the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway, quiet and glassy on a slightly humid, overcast morning, the stillness a perfect backdrop for all the fish that had come to their final resting spot, including one very large snowy grouper that had just arrived and was proudly displayed by the owner, who knelt down to present the fish to a 5-year-old boy while giving a simple tutorial on the colorings of this particular species, which is known for the white spots that inspired its name, a large fish, maybe 20 pounds, silently cooperating in this tutorial on ichthyology, its buggy eyes staring at everything around it, including me as I watched, amused by the lesson and the boy’s dad telling him to pose with a thumbs up for a picture and then I think of that boy 20 years later as a young man, casting for grouper out in bluish reef water as he thinks back to that morning in a plank-floored fish shop with a big nice man holding up a snowy grouper and as the memory blossoms, he makes a brief thumbs-up gesture, reuniting with his earlier self and this sudden rush of water, stillness, and human connection.


  1. A nice human interest story Russ. Brings back memories of me taking Mark (circa 1974, I had to carry him on my back as it was very wet/muddy) out into the “marshes of Glynn” between Jekyll Island and the mainland hunting for crabs. We would string pieces of chicken on a small rope and hang the rope between two poles and dangle it at water level. Inside of 5-7 minutes we’d have a bucket of fresh crab! Great memories and the crab was fantastic!

      1. I wish I had pictures of doing the crab hunts but a camera along with Mark on my back and a bucket of chicken etc. prohibited taking anything else.

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