Xark began as a group blog in June 2005 but continues today as founder Dan Conover's primary blog-home. Posts by longtime Xark authors Janet Edens and John Sloop may also appear alongside Dan's here from time to time, depending on whatever.
Harriet McLeod was so good at her turns writing the anonymous (yet wildly popular with readers) Good Morning Lowcountry column that it only made sense to turn it over to her as a full-time job.
For years Harriet wrote five to seven columns a week, which made reading the second page of the B section the literary equivalent of wandering past her desk in the newsroom on a slow day. This is to say that you never quite knew what you were going to get, but you knew it was going to be entertaining: travel photos from Edinburgh or Daufuskie, personal stories about David Lowrey, salacious gossip about the sex lives of various Charleston elites, first-hand experiences with local root-doctoring magic, or the latest news from her extended network of siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, the Lowcountry equivalent of The News From Lake Woebegon.
If you live along the South Carolina coast, you know that hurricane season is a dreadful time that lasts from June through November, and that like baseball season, it's a marathon, not a sprint. You also know that the first two months are quite literally a warm-up, and that November is an afterthought. Our summer of living dangerously runs every August through October, when monsters spin out of the equatorial waters and threaten to turn the greater Charleston metro region into just so many piles of broken, sodden Tinkertoys. These threats put newsrooms on high alert, scrambling every plan you had, reminding you that as a journalist, your life was really not your own.
During our post-Hugo sojourn at Charleston's metro daily, Harriet and I were threatened with numerous hurricane nightmares and one tropical apocalypse (Floyd, a Category 5 storm that was so big that even though it missed Charleston, we still experienced a Category 1 hurricane on the peninsula). Yet each time the worst seemed inevitable, something always seemed to steer disaster out to sea... or at least to North Carolina.
Now it can be revealed. That "something" was Harriet McLeod's (Go Away) Hurricane Cookies. Harriet never gave anyone the recipe, though she did reveal that the cookies were made with caramel, pecans, chocolate and "root doctor gris-gris that makes hurricanes go away."
In truth, we didn't give a damn about the gris-gris at first. It was a newsroom. Newsroom run on schwag, ambition, fear and free food, and Harriet's Hurricane Cookies were the best free food we ever got. Period. But even journalists can detect meaningful patterns. Month after month, year after year, storm after storm, we watched two events unfold:
Harriet would troop into 134 Columbus St. with plates full of delicious storm-bending magic;
Satellite loops would show storm eyes suddenly and dramatically turning away from Charleston to visit destruction on some poor Tar Heels instead.
I believe in Harriet McLeod's hurricane cookies, and even if I didn't, I'd eat them just for my daily recommended allowance of awesome. And since the News Overlords at Charleston's metro daily saw fit to kill the daily GMLc column (consistently rated as the readers' favorite piece of content in ever survey I remember) and lay Harriet off, she now has the time to make these available to the cookie-consuming, hurricane-fearing public. As her email announcing the product rollout puts it:
Away) Hurricane Cookies
Gourmet caramel, pecan,
chocolate chunk cookies. Messy, like a hurricane.
Powerful gris-gris against tropical storms* *With secret
ingredient guaranteed to make hurricanes go away