Fun on Folly

I promised more about fun and funky Folly Beach a couple of posts ago, so here you go . . .

Folly Beach in Evening Light
Folly Beach in Evening Light

The beach itself–from the northeast end to the southwest end–looks much the same, wide, flat and firm–in fact, pretty perfect, so we’ve been taking lots of long walks. Usually, when we drive the five minutes from the condo, we turn right at Folly’s one stoplight, to drive down to the southwest end and the county park, where there’s lots of free parking. But one day we turned left and found this . . .

Morris Island Lighthouse
Morris Island Lighthouse

Lighthouse Lawn Ornamentthe Morris Island Lighthouse and, at the last house on the road, this lawn ornament paying homage to what you find just up over the dunes.

Here’s what else we found, one day in early-December . . .

December Kiteboarders
December Kiteboarders

I can’t help asking myself, if you have to dress like this . . .

Ski-Hat Kiteboarder
Ski-Hat Kiteboarder

. . . with gloves and a wool ski hat, should you even BE in the water?

December Kite Boarders
December Kite Boarders

But he was not alone. As you can see, he had lots of company out there. No, thank you.

Here’s another fun seeker I encountered one day down at our usual end, at Folly Beach County Park. His friend had one of these on his back already and was revving the engine. I didn’t stay to see what, exactly, he and his friend would do with these, but he did let me take a picture of it. ↓

Seriously. I have no idea.
Seriously. I have no idea.

Looks scary and loud to me. Apparently I am NOT an adrenaline junkie.

On a slightly calmer note, about a week or so ago, our youngest daughter, Chelsea, discovered it was only a quick one-hour flight down from DC, so she came down to join us late Christmas day and stayed through the weekend. Timing turned out to be perfect, because the weather was fabulous, even hitting 70 a couple of days. We dropped her luggage off at the condo and took her straight out to the beach for our walk. It just happened to be the lowest tide we’d seen yet . . .

Christmas Day with Chelsea
Christmas Day with Chelsea on Folly Beach

We ended up doing more shelling than walking. Chelsea actually found two LIVE sand dollars, something I’d never seen before, and later found a large live conch. (Yes, she put all of them back to live happily ever after.) Super cool, though.

So, okay, our version of fun is a bit less action-packed, but I guess to each his own. Some of my fun is in taking pictures and writing this blog for you, so thanks very much for reading (and commenting now and then).

Do anything, but let it produce joy. ∼Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. ∼Emily Dickinson

Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings. ∼Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you a fun–and safe–New Year’s celebration!

Illuminating Christmas

I love decorating for Christmas, and I especially love Christmas lights.

Christmas Eve 2013 -- Felicity, left, and Bailey
Christmas Eve 2013 — Felicity, left, and Bailey

←Last year Christmas at our house looked like this (including darling granddaughters).

This year, there’s no room for a tree in this condo, and living as nomads, of course none of our ornaments are with us anyway. Here’s our Christmas Tree this year.  ↓

Christmas Tree 2014
Christmas Tree 2014

 

Glass of Christmas Light←Instead, this year we have drinking glasses with dollar-store lights stuffed in them on various end tables and counters, which is more festive than you might think, but still. I’m enjoying lights wherever I can find them.

Taco Boy, Folly Beach
Taco Boy, Folly Beach

Last Friday night we went to dinner here. →

. . . because it had a few fun lights and looked quirky enough to pique our interest. Plus I haven’t quite satisfied my craving for Mexican food. Mediocre margaritas, I’m sorry to report. The fish tacos were not bad, but the lights were better. I’m not certain they were all to do with Christmas, but look how fun they are . . .

Taco Boy lights
Taco Boy lights

And the wall of masks is pretty great, too . . .

Taco Boy, Folly Beach
Taco Boy, Folly Beach

By the time we left, I still hadn’t had my fill of Christmas lights, so instead of heading straight home, we decided to follow some signs we’d noticed advertising a holiday light show. It turned out to be the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park . . .

James Island County Park
Sand sculpture celebrating the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

. . . which is apparently a big deal around here. It was mobbed, even at $15 per car. Not quite Cavalcade de La Rochelle, but reasonably entertaining, especially for children, with more than 700 light displays, many of them moving and changing. My favorite was this beautiful blue tree reflected on the pond . . .

Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park
Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

This evening the sun set on a day of pouring rain, gloomy as can be outside. So I’m especially thankful to be inside, having a glass of wine with David and enjoying our dollar-store decor and tea lights on a tray, in place of the usual shimmering tree and blazing fire. Of course, even dollar-store lights shine, and they’re beautiful to me.

A few bonus thoughts about light:

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.∼Desmond Tutu

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.∼Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.∼Edith Wharton

Wishing you light and life this Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

Middleton Place

I decided I couldn’t wait to show you Middleton Place . . .

Middleton Place
Middleton Place

. . . a local rice plantation first settled in the 17th century, so I’ll save other Folly fun for later. This past Saturday afternoon was absolutely glorious, so we drove out to Middleton Place, because we’d heard the grounds were fabulous . . .

Live Oaks at Middleton Place
Live Oaks at Middleton Place

. . . which, as you can see, is absolutely true. The live oaks were huge and spectacular . . .

Live Oak over Pond Middleton Place EnhancedLive Oaks at Middleton PlaceCircle Trees Middleton Place

. . . the waterfowl were cooperatively posing . . .

Great Egret at Middleton Place
Great Egret at Middleton Place

. . . and a few paperwhites and camellias were even in bloom.

Blue Heron
Blue Heron

Paperwhites at Middleton Place

Camellia at Middleton Place
Camellia at Middleton Place

There was also a lovely little restaurant. We got there just in time to catch the end of the lunch service and had a cup of She-Crab soup, of course, but also shared a Fried Green Tomato sandwich–YUM!

Aside from the grounds and restaurant, there were also artisans in the workshops demonstrating work that would have been done on the plantation. Here’s the cooper . . .

Doug Nesbit, the cooper at Middleton Place
Doug Nesbit, the cooper at Middleton Place

. . . an absolutely charming gentleman who spends his days giving history lessons to tourists and making barrels and buckets like the ones you see on his work table. There was also a potter and a woman who dips candles and grinds corn with two huge grooved circular stones. I was so fascinated–and distracted by the peacocks in the rafters waiting for spilled corn–I forgot to take a picture.

One thing I appreciated about these artisans, aside from their skill, is that they always used the term “enslaved Africans” instead of the simpler “slaves” which struck me as a more respectful, honest treatment of the hard fact of how this particular part of American prosperity came to be.

Slave Graveyard at Middleton Place
One of the Slave Graveyards at Middleton Place

Let me never forget those whose lives were not–or are not now–filled with days of ease and adventure.

From an old hymn:

Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load; 

Words: Johann G. Olearius, 1671
∼Translation: Catherine Winkworth, 1863
 

I wish you comfort and peace this Christmas season, and I wish for you an abundance of opportunities to share the same with all those you encounter.

 

Charming Charleston

Charleston is a very photogenic city, from the Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge we had to cross (and recross) when we got here . . .

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Charleston, South Carolina
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Charleston, South Carolina

. . . to the multitude of intriguing little alleys . . .

Alley Mirror Charleston

Brick Alley Narrow

 

 

 

 

Brick Alley 2

 

Diagonal Tile Alley

 

Christmas Gas Lamp

Lots of brick–which I love–and even cobblestones on some streets. And of course now it’s all decorated for Christmas. So even though most of the trees still have green leaves on them, and there are palm trees everywhere, there’s a gaslight glow to everything–which, okay, is probably here all year, but it goes really well with all the poinsettias and red ribbons and ornaments.

Chrismas Courtyard

Then there’s the food. There’s a reason you always hear about southern cooking. We stopped in here early Friday evening a week ago . . .

Southend Brewery & Smokehouse, Charleston
Southend Brewery & Smokehouse, Charleston

. . . originally just for a glass of wine, but the aroma of BBQ was so enchanting, we decided to stay and eat. A local specialty is She-Crab Soup, so we each started with a cup of that. Words fail me. Maybe it was the combination of the wine and the ambiance of the roaring wood fire combined with the transporting redolence of barbecue, or maybe just the drizzle of sherry on top, but it was so amazingly delicious, we  were actually startled. What? Seriously. YUM. Then Shrimp & Grits for David and Famous Smoked BBQ Chicken Brick Oven Pizza for me, most of which we took home. A little too much southern deliciousness for one meal.

Then we wandered a bit more, happening upon the French Quarter Friday Night Art Walk, which was fortunate, as it only happens four times a year. Lots of great art, plus free food and wine, but of course, we had already eaten. Oops. So maybe not so fortunate, since we didn’t need the food and wine and the galleries were more crowded than usual, but there was a fun festive atmosphere everywhere.

Charleston and the Low Country seem to bring out the creative side of people, for me primarily with photography at the moment. I’ve taken so many photos, you should probably prepare yourself for a few more frequent posts while I get caught up. We’re definitely NOT sitting in the condo. We’ve been out and about having all kinds of adventures.

Hope you are too!

 

Unexpected Folly Beach

After our boomerang start, we are now finally settled in the condo in the Folly Beach area of Charleston, SC. Remember when I said here we’d have easier access to higher ground? Well, I had forgotten that this area is called the Low Country. There’s a reason. It’s just as low and flat as the Outer Banks. Dry so far, though, unless you count the humidity that requires using the windshield defogger ten times during every twenty minute drive.

Wednesday evening, we drove out to the actual beach of Folly Beach, just as the sun was setting through the fog:

Foggy Folly
Folly in the Fog

Foggy Sunset on Folly Beach

Palms in the Fog Vertical

Very cool and kind of surreal. The state park at the southwest end closes at 5, at least at this time of year, and we didn’t get there until about 4:45, but the ranger we encountered on our walk said he was leaving the exit gate open since he couldn’t find everyone in the fog. The whole thing seemed sort of Twilight Zone, but bonus, we got to stay a bit longer.

David on foggy Folly Beach
David on foggy Folly Beach

We LOVE Folly Beach for walking. It’s flat, wide, firm and practically deserted. We saw lots of interesting shells, and a surprisingly large number of sea stars–maybe thirty or forty–stranded by low tide and either playing dead very convincingly or actually dead. I know many sea stars live in the intertidal zone, presumably on purpose, so they must have figured the whole high tide / low tide thing out, but I’m not sure the plan was working that day.

At the other end of the island the surfers were out in full force . . .

Surfer on Folly

. . . um REALLY? It’s DECEMBER, and this is NOT Hawaii. There were probably thirty surfers practically within arms reach of each other, granted, all in wetsuits. One young guy returned to the car in front of where ours was parked on the side of the road and was trying to strip out of his wetsuit and apparently change into something else, inside a smallish towel he had wrapped around his waist, just as I was obliviously brandishing my camera around. Awkward. I snapped a few quick blurry shots of the surfers IN the water and we got in the car and left, tout de suite!

Later, after wandering around tiny, quirky “downtown” Folly Beach, we stopped in here . . .

The Surf Bar, Folly Beach
The Surf Bar, Folly Beach–not actually red inside in real life!

. . . because, really, how often do you find a place like this? It just seemed to go with the weird vibe of the evening. While there, we were surprised to hear the bartender–a young, white woman– mention that she’d be singing with a gospel choir at a Christmas concert Saturday night. We overheard enough to find tickets online to what turned out to be the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s Gospel Christmas concert, last night at a nearby large Baptist church. Surprisingly, the first half was classical and choral, but they put on the robes after intermission and the swaying and clapping we’d been expecting finally started. The whole thing was impressive, but we liked that part best.

Neighbors?
Neighbors?

Also unexpected, not to mention disturbing, to see this next to the condo parking lot . . .

Yikes. Yet more evidence we’re not in Colorado at the moment.

Speaking of the condo, the complex is nice and seems to be pretty new, and it’s very posh inside, as well as being conveniently located to both the casual, surfer-hip Folly Beach and classy, historic downtown Charleston (next post, I promise), but I’m not too sure about at least one of the neighbors. On two separate nights around 1 a.m. there has been crazy loud crashing and thumping, I think in the condo above us, as if the furniture were being thrown around or knocked over. No yelling last night, and it only lasted two or three minutes, but the first time this happened there was also a guy doing a lot of shouting, and then someone stepped out of the condo across from us and yelled up toward the thumper-shouter. Yikes. I really expected to cops to show up. But five minutes later, all was quiet again. Weird.

So . . . things are . . . um . . . different here (although I really should have expected the Low Country to be, you know, low). But what’s an adventure without new experiences? And this does continue to be a most excellent adventure, that’s for sure.

Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, and that your surprises are all of the very best kind.

And on this anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, above all I wish you peace. Many thanks to those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

Do I Hear an Echo?

We went to Wilmington , , , went to Wilmington . . . .

Yup. We spent the weekend in Wilmington, North Carolina, on our way to Folly Beach . . . and then today we went BACK to Wilmington to get the leather jacket I’d left in the hotel room closet. Sheesh. Nearly eight hours of driving today by my saintly husband (I’m often the navigator in unfamiliar territory). Well, we know the way now!

It WAS pretty nice, with lots of historic homes and buildings, some seriously stately, like the Bellamy Mansion. We walked by before it was open, but it was a bit of a hike, so I’m afraid we did NOT make it back here.

Bellamy Mansion
Bellamy Mansion, Wilmington, NC

There’s also a popular Riverwalk lined with shops and restaurants:

Riverwalk, Wilmington, North Carolina
Riverwalk, Wilmington, NC

Brick and LampElsewhere in the downtown area, lots of beautiful red brick with black iron lamps everywhere, one of my favorite looks . . . .

. . . not to mention pretty horses decked out in silver, patiently waiting downtown to tote tourists around . . . .

 

 

Horses of WilmingtonOur favorite spot, though, was a little pub called Paddy’s Hollow . . .

Paddy's Hollow, Wilmington, NC
Paddy’s Hollow, Wilmington, NC.

Seriously. How could you NOT go in that door? And inside . . .

Paddy's Hollow Interior

. . . all cozy with copper pillars and Christmas lights. We stumbled on this place Saturday evening on our exploratory ramble. Fortunately, it was just about cocktail hour, since it was a perfect spot for a glass of wine. We liked it so well, we went back the next day.

We also saw a fabulous home decor shop with everything from old wood propellers to a giant cushion that said, “Je t’aime plus qu’hier mais moins que demain.” (which means “I love you more than yesterday but less than tomorrow.”) and even a huge leopard fur wing chair and ottoman. The shop was closed by the time we saw it Saturday evening, but looking in the windows, we liked it so well, we went back the next day.

Anyone sensing a pattern?

Wilmington has a thriving film and TV industry (Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, Iron Man 3, among many others), but we didn’t see any celebrities. Our waiter at the hotel restaurant told us he’s an actor, auditions all the time, and had one line in some movie (I forget which one), but I don’t think he counts. He apparently likes acting well enough, though, to keep going back for more, in spite of limited success to date.

Here’s hoping when you go back for more, it’s not because you forgot something hours away, but because you’ve found something you like well enough to make the trip. Happy returns!*

*. . . and before you leave, double-check those closets and drawers!