You can always tell when a man is in love. Of course, I’m speaking about a man in love with our coastal waters. Always with a sparkle in his eye, he truly comes to life on the water, especially in one of his favorite spots, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. Meet my longtime friend, John Pruitt, fondly called JP by all who know him well. He’s a true outdoorsman, soaking in all that nature provides, from bird hunting to casting a line.
Pruitt is an accomplished banker with an impressive resume. His work relocated him from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta in 2000, and that’s when the idea of writing a book took root. A transplanted Eastern Shore “Marylander” (he would quickly remind you that he was born south of the Mason-Dixon Line), JP moved to Myrtle Beach, married a local, and raised a daughter on the long stretch of beautiful beach known as the Grand Strand.
Tales of the Tide is unique, as it offers impressive videos that immerse the reader in an authentic coastal experience. How is that possible? Your heart will pound with breathtaking scenes of the scenic marsh, teeming with birdlife, coming alive right before your eyes with just the click of a QR code on your smartphone. Marsh Deane, photographer and videographer, skillfully captured spectacular scenes and then masterfully set them to soothing instrumentals that will buoy your spirits and soothe your soul. Embellished by original paintings and sketches by famed artist Bruce Chandler, stories from the Chesapeake to the Lowcountry feature personal adventures, exciting characters, how-tos, eco-education, recipes, and history, making this an intimate portrayal of life “where land mingles with the sea.”
“I remember the day that I crossed the bridge, thinking more about what I was leaving than where I was going. I had lived on the coast my entire life and struggled to imagine not being able to do the things that I had loved to do for so long. To fish the jetties at sunrise for red drum, cook Lowcountry Boil on the dock at sunset, ponder the creatures of the marsh, float with the tide, and be calm. Really calm. So, I kept a promise to myself that I would stay connected to this place. We bought a small house on the backside of Garden City Beach and began building 20 years of memories with family and friends. Being six hours away made the time spent here more special. It heightened my senses and drew me closer, knowing that time was short before I would have to cross back over the bridge.”
My husband Trippett and I have spent many memorable days with JP catching fish, netting shrimp, and steaming oysters, or on the porch with a bottle of wine gazing out at the waters or sunsets. I don’t know anyone who loves this place more than he does, and truth be told, his passion is contagious! I love it when he lights up just simply admiring the colors of a speckled trout or pointing out the changing palette of the spartina grass.
One of my favorite JP memories happened on a frigid day during deer season. Trippett and I had gotten up at 3:45 a.m. to get to our hunting club before first light. After a long sit, we were ready to head home, warm up, and call it a day. JP texted us: “Get to my dock; I found the trout! It is incredible!” We tried several ways to say that we didn’t think we could make it. But, JP would not take no for an answer.
“Get your butts here now! You will not believe how exciting it will be!” As hard as we tried to say no, we finally relented and made it to the dock on time. JP was ready to push off, and luckily, his honey hole was not far away. The wind was howling, our faces frozen and fingers numb, but it was everything and more than we could have expected. The next evening, we feasted on those incredible sea trout and thanked JP for insisting that we join him for an epic fishing experience.
I’m a hunter, so the woods have always called to me, but after reading JP’s book Tales of the Tide, my appreciation for what I have taken for granted has been forever bolstered. I look out from the deck of my home, and I see so many treasures, from the intricate beauty of tidal marsh, the fascinating muck of “dead low,” trapped baitfish rippling the water, and the incredible wading birds. Sometimes you need to see the happiness the pristine tidal marsh brings to others before their joy can become a reflection in yours.
Most of all, this book has something for everyone, both old and young, and is a great way to encourage children to love and appreciate the peacefulness and wonders of our coastal waters. You can “reel” them in with the technology of using the QR codes—technology is with us, and it’s here to stay. In this fast world we live in, this book will calm you, and you can almost smell the pluff mud and breathe in the salty air as you admire God’s handiwork. Or, you can enjoy watching recipes come alive as they are prepared right before your eyes and almost smell the delicious okra and shrimp sizzling on the skillet in Gullah Chef Bill Green’s kitchen. If that’s not enough, you might even learn how to lasso an octopus (pages 87-89)!
I am most impressed with JP’s passion for sharing his wealth of knowledge so that others can also discover the joy that he has experienced. Readers will be thrilled with the tips and resources shared throughout the book, and JP probably won’t be insulted if his book is loved so much it becomes dog-eared from frequent use!
Yes, John Milton Pruitt is a waterman in love with everything the coastal waters have to offer. He shares vast experiences, from his hilarious shenanigans as a young man to dangerous situations out on the sea. Still, his gentle side is most apparent with the soft-hearted writings ripped from his childhood experiences to the present time. He has captured the essence of the coastal waters in this beautifully written and illustrated book that you will treasure for years to come and pass down to your loved ones as a family heirloom.
So, if you are out in the creek armed with a package of frozen chicken necks, a ball of string, a net, and a youngster with eyes wide with excitement, welcome to the club, and to quote JP, “It is a lifetime membership!”
You can purchase this beautiful book by contacting the author at https://jmiltonpruitt.com
Booksigning Event!!! Meet John and see what the excitement is all about! Murrells Inlet Fishing Lodge behind Perry’s Bait & Tackle in Murrells Inlet – Wednesday, September 29th from 12- 4 PM.
Written for Waccamaw Outdoors Magazine, October 2021 Issue