By the Water: The Best Way to Relax (Introducing Gumbo Cove)

October 11, 2019

By the Water: The Best Way to Relax (Introducing Gumbo Cove)


A New Love

There’s a new love in our lives.

A tiny little bay house on stilts in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

A place where birds like this come to visit for a while, and wait around ’til you get a portrait photo.

Tricolored heron posing for a portrait
A tricolored heron, patiently posing for me

A place where the colors in the sunset over the water are so hauntingly beautiful that it will break your heart if you allow yourself just the slightest bit of sunset vulnerability.

Gorgeous purple sunset
Exquisite sunset view from the deck; haiku at Violet Sunset Haiku

A place where relaxing and mindfulness aren’t just the goal, they are the gold standard, set by Mother Nature herself.

Purple finch meditating
This finch looked like he was meditating; a good role model for us
Beach grasses, sand and sky
The grasses, the sand, the sky…the beach inspires mindfulness, and this poem

A town that can turn anything into a celebration without it seeming like a feeble excuse to party.

Little girl concentrating on flowers being painted on her arm
A little miss concentrates as she has her arm painted at the 2019 Mermaids Arts & Crafts Show (publishing my photo with permission from her parents)
Beauties enjoying Frida Fest
Costumed beauties at the 2018 Frida Fest, an annual event that celebrates artist Frida Kahlo; photo courtesy of Shoofly Magazine and photographer Ana Balka

A town that embraces soul-satisfying comfort food right alongside extraordinarily creative foodie fare.

Gumbo and potato salad
Traditional gumbo and potato salad at The Lunch Box – yum!
Giant soft-shelled crab
At Field’s, a huge soft-shell crab topped with more lump crab and two giant shrimp with firecracker sauce, positioned over a 10-oz. filet mignon (hiding under the crab) – wowza!

A beachy town where just as many folks ride around in golf carts as cars, and the seafood is the freshest you can imagine because you can buy it just off the boat.

Shrimp boat in the harbor

We’re in love.

The Backstory

This new love happened because of the Glover Gardens blog. It happened because when you share, people share back. And when you share more, you get more back.

Here’s how it all came down.

It Started with a Blog Post

I wrote a post about my childhood on the Gulf Coast of Texas with a poem, My Days by the Water, sharing my memories and experiences.

A Reader Shared Her Own “Days by the Water” Memories

A wonderful Glover Gardens follower commented on the Glover Gardens Facebook page that my poem and story reminded her of childhood visits to her grandparents in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and their epic seafood boils. Her description was delightful; she made a gift to me of those treasured memories. This sharing inspired another Glover Gardens post, titled Epic Seafood Boil Memories from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in which I used her commentary, with permission.

To provide more context in the story, I did a bunch of research on Bay St. Louis, or BSL, as it’s known to the locals. It seemed enchanting, a small town with a welcoming culture that beautifully bridges folksy charm with artsy sophistication. Many of my Google searches landed on the Shoofly, an online magazine so cleverly marketed that you’d think it was produced in a large urban city, but so warm and homey that you know it is the beating heart of the little town. I used some marvelous photos from the Shoofly in my Epic Seafood Boil post, with attribution.

The Shoofly Picked Up Our Story

In a stroke of luck or serendipity, my story caught the attention of the editor, resulting in a blurb and a link in the Shoofly (I was thrilled).

The Shoofly’s editor also sent me a personal note suggesting that we check out Bay St. Louis and included a link to her vacation rental, a 1913 former school, The Webb Schoolhouse. It’s beautiful!

The Webb Schoolhouse in Bay St. Louis
The Webb Schoolhouse vacation rental

We Fell in Love with BSL – Hook, Line and Sinker

We were being pulled toward Bay St. Louis, don’t you think? Serendipity is my favorite word and I like to follow its subtle but seductive suggestions. We moved BSL to the top of our must-visit list for 2019 and got out there by March. The Webb Schoolhouse is in high demand and was already booked (drat!), so we stayed at a small cabin, right on a canal.

In a beach town and right on a canal, just like my childhood home.

Just. Like. My. Childhood. Home. Score!

It wasn’t just me hankering for the peace that relaxing by the water brings. The Grill-Meister spent his late childhood in Maple Valley, WA, where there was also water all ‘round – but never, ever enough sun. Bay St. Louis has sun, sand, sea and serenity galore. It was everything we thought it would be, and more.

And there’s a bonus: it is only 45 minutes from New Orleans. Y’all know how we feel about New Orleans here at Glover Gardens, right?

Friends, We Took the Plunge

Energized, inspired, stimulated, we got to work. We connected with a Realtor, looked around in the same neighborhood as the cabin where we stayed, and found a perfect little “bay camp” (as they’re called locally). It’s situated on a large bayou that feeds St. Louis Bay, with a canal beside it. We dived right in to this new venture, taking possession of this tiny little piece of heaven on stilts in early July.

Humble but oh-so-peaceful

It needed a name! We did a lot of brainstorming, the Grill-Meister and me, finally landing on Gumbo Cove. Y’all know how we feel about gumbo here at Glover Gardens, right?

So we made a sign and packed up a U-Haul, and now plan to enjoy holidays and the occasional weekend relaxing by the water at Gumbo Cove. Glover Gardens in a suburb of Houston is still home base, but we feel the pull of the Mississippi tides.

More to Come

You’ll hear more about Gumbo Cove and Bay St. Louis in these pages as we revel in the mindfulness, peace and serendipity of our new days by the water, making new memories while we cherish the old ones.

Celebrating Gumbo Cove on the day we closed

Thanks are in Order

Thank you to the Glover Gardens reader who turned us on to Bay St. Louis. You are awesome and I love the tips you continue to send. Thank you to the Shoofly Magazine for providing so much color and context that we knew we had to get out there to BSL, and to its editor, for suggesting that we come visit. The Shoofly is awesome, and we are now subscribers and supporters who always check the Community Calendar before a trip to Gumbo Cove. Thank you to our Realtor, who helped untangle strange loan and flood insurance requirements. You are awesome and we are glad we have stayed connected. Thank you to the previous owners of Gumbo Cove, who saved it after Hurricane Katrina. As you said, we bought a legacy, and we will take good care of it.

22 thoughts on “By the Water: The Best Way to Relax (Introducing Gumbo Cove)”

  • I saw your link on our Nextdoor site and really enjoyed your blog. You truly know BSL but you didn’t mention that it is an artist’s colony as is the city of Ocean Springs. I have been enjoying this area since 2002 and have no plans to ever leave.

  • @Joan, thank you! You know, I’m still learning, and while the galleries and festivals are definitely a big part of why we fell in love with BSL, I didn’t really “get” that it is an artist’s colony until I read your comment just now. But of course it is… that would be one of the sources of how the town stays so vibrant and fresh, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. That should be the topic of another post. 😍 Are you an artist?

  • Your new adventure home does indeed sound serendipitous! So happy for y’all that you’ve found what sounds like a glorious place to make new water memories!

  • What an incredible story! It’s amazing opportunities come from the blogging world. Hope you have many happy escapes to Gumbo Cove 🙂

    • Amazing, indeed! I have made some real friends via Glover Gardens, including you. Come to Gumbo Cove any time! What is your most amazing blog-inspired connection? (I think I know but want to hear the story.)

      • I’m glad! I’ll try get over that way at some point 🙂

        My most amazing was making a friend through another (historic) blog and eventually going to said friend’s wedding in Washington. I was introduced to one of the bridesmaids and now we’re a (long-distance) couple! 🙂

        As far as WP goes I’m not sure. I’ve got to know some great people here, yourself included, but I don’t think I’ve met any of my followers yet unfortunately. Hopefully at some point and some more amazing stories to come 🙂

  • This is really nice! Welcome to BSL!

    We bought a landlocked house with a big yard and moved from Nebraska. The weather has been wonderful and we’re close to the beach. Our dog loves to run around the beach especially at low tide.

    • “Landlocked’ has a very different meaning when it’s followed you “close to the beach,” doesn’t it? I’m imagining that watching your dog prance around near the waves is very peaceful and relaxing.

  • Hi Kim, I popped over to your blog site. Wow, I’m impressed by the depth and variety of your passions. Many are loves of mine as well.

    I am a transplant as well. Raised in NYC and roots in New England. Also lived in UK and México. Lived in Blue Ridge mts for years, then DC, NC and came to rest in BSL (or “The Bay”) in ’96. Nature and all its denizens and the spirituality that effervesces from the land & water here, festivals of family & friends, writing and creative arts/crafts are most important to me.

    I love your writing, and your passion. I look forward to meeting you and enjoying your new love affair with all this amazing (but troubled) place offers.

    My chowder was one of our Poor Man recipes (although you can dress it up)….just a potato corn chowder with a bit of bacon and evap milk. Still good with crusty bread on cold nights. My Mason jars (all covered in Epsom salts and glitter) weren’t a screeching success-lol….next stop: lip balm made at home, Mandarin and Peppermint. I’ll keep you posted..

    Maggie King

    • Hi Maggie! First off, this is a beautiful sentence: “Nature and all its denizens and the spirituality that effervesces from the land & water here, festivals of family & friends, writing and creative arts/crafts are most important to me.” We are kindred spirits, I think. What a blessing that you can enjoy BSL full-time; I am feeling blessed just by the odd weekend we get to steal here and there.

      The places you have lived are diverse and each has its own rich history and traditions, and it says a lot for BSL that it measures up quite well to all of that.

      The chowder sounds great and makes me wish for a cold night. 🙂 The high here in Southeast Texas today is in the mid-70s.

      Let’s keep in touch!

      • Hi Kim , absolutely. We’d love to give y’all a bayou tour or fishing or other insider info on the bayous, marshes and backwaters!

        I’m fascinated to hear about yr London trips-went to school for a year in London School of Economics in 1973-4, lived w/roomies in Knightsbridge then slummed it in N. London. My mom lived in Surrey then and made sure we got “some culture” besides pubs, cheap delish Indian or Persian food and seeing the original Rocky Horror Show with Tim Curry….it appears to be a massive gentrification in London town. Same as the Bay post Katrina….but that’s a different show after wine-lol…..I tend to be a burr under many local saddles….jajaja!
        Please let me know when y’all come in for a few days, look forward to making new friends!

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