Though I could never explain the meteorological phenomenon known as El Niño, I do know that I’m quite content with these warmer November days as of late. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to enjoy these unusually warmer days by doing what we Southerns do best – front porch living!
Personally, I like taking it all in – cold beer in hand of course – while also reviving the lost Southern art of joggling. OK, unless you are from the low country, I probably lost you on that one.
I first discovered the art of joggling last summer while I was spending time in Savannah working on my book, A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen. I crashed with my friend and his family at their home on Turners Rock, a small island wedged between Savannah, Georgia and Tybee Island. As is their ritual, each evening at dusk, we poured a few cocktails and made our way to the marsh to take in the setting sun. We walked down the long wooden walkway to the end of the dock and took a seat on their 30 year old joggling board…a new experience for me. I soon determined that this flexible pine bench, set on rocking supports, that bounces or “joggles” when sat upon is my new preferred way of shooting the breeze and enjoying a cold drink with friends. Apparently, such a tradition has been enjoyed down here for nearly 200 years.
The first known joggling board was built by Cleland Kinloch some time around 1807 at Acton Plantation near Sumter, South Carolina. A widower, Kinloch asked his sister Mary Esther to care for the household chores following the death of his wife. While living at the plantation, Mary Esther developed painful rheumatism and was unable to enjoy her beloved carriage rides. Sharing her frustration with her family in Scotland, they responded by sending drawings for what would be the first joggling board. Their hope was that she might be able to “joggle” in order to both exercise and simulate the motion of a carriage. The rest, as they say, is history. Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and joggling boards can be found all over the coastal south, especially in Charleston and Savannah.
Especially convenient if you don’t have enough space to support a porch swing – owning a joggling board is not only a great way to pass time – but also a solid conversation starter. You can pick one up online in time for some holiday entertaining from Oyster Creek Trading Company.
Hopefully, old man winter will stay away for a little bit longer, allowing you to break her in! Cheers y’all.