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Our Lady of the Brine

By Ashley Wahl

The story goes something like this: Gaia

(Earth) and Uranus (the heavens) created the primordial Titans, and the world as we know it began to crystallize.

The Earth was lush, her branches dripping with golden apples and sacred pears and fleshy-sweet persimmons, and the mysterious heavens swirled gently above. Each deity played a role in creation as if smattering paint onto an everchanging canvas, and their offspring became the sun, the moon, the stars, the winds, and so forth. But let’s get straight to the heart of the matter: our sacred waters. When Oceanus took the plunge with his sea goddess sister, 3,000 ocean nymphs were born, including Doris, a favorite aunt of poor Atlas. On down the line, Doris married Nereus, son of the sea and the Earth, and their fifty sea nymph daughters represented the many facets of the ocean. Halimede was Lady of the Brine.

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Salt • December 2014

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When the Greeks made their gods in their own image, it is believed that man had such a profound and intimate connection with nature that he could feel her heartbeat. Few of us make such claims today, but if you’ve ever met Amanda Jacobs, the fair-skinned surfer babe combing the beach for smooth stones and imperfect shells, you might agree that she seems more connected than most. And if you haven’t met her, she’s the sylphlike blonde hauling five-gallon buckets of ocean water across Wrightsville Beach, a trek she makes something like twelve times a week to keep up with customer demand. In addition to selling regular sea salt, which looks like perfect snowflakes in a bottle, Jacobs makes and sells flavored salts by adding cracked peppercorn, truffle or rosemary, which she grows on her front porch. She concocts body scrubs, too, and she’s always dreaming up new products, like “to-go” salt packaged in tiny metal slider tins. But in this moment, Jacobs is sitting on the sandy shore, bits of broken shells adorning her legs like barnacles, and she is right at home. It is one of the last warm days of the year. The sun is a gleaming pendant against a cerulean backdrop and the gulls are making lazy circles above us. As Jacobs readjusts her wide-brimmed hat, her toes stuck like mole crabs in the sand, the ebb tide seems to beckon. “The beach is literally my favorite place on the planet,” she says. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

Photographs by mark steelman

Perfect snowflakes in a bottle and other glories harvested from the sea

December Salt 2014  

The Art & Soul of Wilmington

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