John HutchesonEvery morning, John Hutcheson and his wife, Elma Rios, mount their recumbent bicycles — the lowto the ground, laid-back-seating kind —and begin their 45-minute commute to work at Sea Pines Montessori Academy. Their route goes from their rented home in Spanish Wells Plantation over the Cross Island Parkway, down Palmetto Bay and Cordillo roads and to the school at the back gate of Sea Pines. John, 60, and Elma, 51, have shared a classroom there since moving to the school from a similar gig in Seattle three years ago, teaching fourth-, fifth and sixth-graders.

Spending all that time teaching and biking together has taught them a lot about what’s important. And, as Hutcheson, told us, it made them wonder why, on an island with 12 miles of paved leisure paths, more people don’t bike to work.

Green spirits: How to drink appropriately this monthThis St. Patrick’s, pick up some good vibrations with these green libations.

In this green edition of Monthly, it’s important to note that there are shades of emerald that go beyond the environmentally friendly.

This being March, we must recognize a festival that elevates and exalts the color green like no other: St. Patrick’s Day. And while St. Patty’s ostensibly celebrates the life of a Christian martyr who drove snakes out of Ireland, it is also a celebration of Irish culture, or at least an extremely vague and extremely incorrect approximation thereof.

In that spirit, we’re popping the cork on a few green drink ideas to help you get into whichever form of “green spirit” you prefer.



Lanier Laney, left, and Terry Sweeney at their Beaufort home. “People say, ‘Do you miss L.A.?’ Never,” Sweeney says.These days, when Terry Sweeney walks the streets of the Lowcountry, he’s more likely to get compliments about “The Happy Winos” — his local wine column — than the Nancy Reagan impression he did on “Saturday Night Live” three decades ago.

Sweeney’s wine writing and local address are part of a different reality than the one he and partner and fellow comedy writer Lanier Laney lived for several decades in New York and Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Sweeney wrote for and appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” lampooning the likes of Reagan, Joan Collins and Diana Ross. As the first openly gay performer on broadcast television, he also cleared the way for legions of other gay performers and characters on TV — even if it meant its share of aftershocks.

A Hilton Head Island teen uses her Sweet 16 party to ask for a little something more than presents.

Crystal Garmon’sSixteen-year-old Crystal Garmon’s got it made, and she knows it. She also knows who to thank, at least in part, for the comfort and freedom she enjoys at her Hilton Head Island home. “I think it’s really cool that (those in the Armed Forces) would just give up their lives to defend this country,” said Crystal, a sophomore at Hilton Head Island High School. “We have a great life here, and they’re out there su ering in the cold and the dirt.”

The image of troops putting themselves in harm’s way troubled Crystal, who had an idea while working with her parents on invitations to her Sweet 16 party in December: In lieu of presents, she would ask for donations that would go toward care packages for troops. “Her dad and I just looked at each other, puzzled,” said Crystal’s mom, Michelle Garmon.

We asked locals: What would be your perfect Valentine's Day (or night)? Here's what they told us about having the perfect romantic holiday in the Lowcountry.


My funny ValentineTIM SINGLETON
Hilton Head High Football Coach/Executive Director, Strive to Excel

My perfect day? A warm atmosphere, food, great stamina and the perfect mix of laughter and reflection.

MARLENA SMALLS
Founder/Voice of the Hallelujah Singers

A day spent with my honey would be a perfect Valentine’s Day. When I see him I see a bouquet of roses: yellow for friendship and red for love. His conversation with me reads like a card.

Judge Frank SimonTrue love may know no bounds, but getting married in the state of South Carolina — like driving a car, catching a fish or owning a gun — requires a piece of government documentation to be fully legit. The man to talk to about that in Beaufort County is Judge Frank Simon, a Korean War vet who has served as the Beaufort County Probate Court judge since 1994. The court oversees the little bit of bureaucracy that attaches itself to every bit of true love: the marriage license. The court issues about 1,800 licenses every year. Even if you and your betrothed are just in town for vacation, you can still get a license (for an added fee of $45). The court doesn’t see too much Vegas-style eloping, but getting married in the Lowcountry can come with its own hazards.

Sure, everyone’s just getting back into classes after winter break, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the next step in your child’s education. If you’re considering private school, the Lowcountry has no shortage of options. Read on:

Hannah FultonWhy I went to private school

A writing assignment by Hannah Fulton

When I was in eighth grade, my parents took me to visit the boarding school in St. Louis that my father had attended. There was no pressure, no pushing — it was just a simple visit. Having lived in Hilton Head for quite a while, my parents wanted me to experience a different part of the country. Plus, my dad loved his experience at the school in St. Louis, and my mom had attended boarding school as well, so the concept wasn’t foreign to either of them.

SHELL STATIONIt’s winter in the Lowcountry, and you know what that means: Huddling up under heavy wool blankets around the fireplace. Wait, no! Leave that noise to the folks who winter in the Midwest; here, nature barely cracks a window for the cold air before bathing-suit season returns again. Besides, the chillier months bring some of the best locals’ events around: oyster roasts, where friends and neighbors celebrate the kind of Lowcountry heartiness that refuses to cede the outdoors, even when the rest of the country is snowbound. But how can you make sure your oyster roasts with the best of them? We asked Russell Anderson — owner of Captain Woody’s, the site of monthly oyster roasts for more than a decade — for a pro’s primer: