Arty Charleston

While Chelsea was here, of course we had to take her into downtown Charleston, so there was the usual peering down intriguing alleys and winsome walkways:

Charleston
Charleston

Charleston Drive

Brick Alley

 

 

Fortunately for Chelsea, though, this time I was also on a mission. Coleman Fine ArtBoth my mom and my aunt had insisted I find Mary Whyte’s paintings, and so far I had either been on the wrong end of downtown or was walking by the gallery on a Sunday, when it was closed. But this time, we were in luck and had a chance to enjoy Coleman Fine Arts, where Mary Whyte displays her amazing watercolors, uniquely and creatively framed by her artist husband, Smith Coleman. Absolutely stunning. Do yourself a BIG favor and check out their website, and don’t miss the videos.

I know the arts are well-represented in lots of different places, including many we’ve visited on this adventure, but there is definitely something about this area that seems to spark creativity. A number of writers make this their home, and artists and artisans are everywhere, many displaying their wares at the Charleston City Market. It was great to have Chelsea along, since her shopping / browsing tolerance is MUCH higher than David’s! Remember Chelsea in France? Anyway, it’s not all high art, but still. Got my creative juices flowing a bit.

So I’m feeling inspired again. I’m devouring Mary Whyte’s books on painting and doing a bit of drawing, but I’m still not quite ready to share any of that with you, especially since there’s a great deal of PREPARING to paint, and very little ACTUAL painting. Sorry. Instead, here’s today’s little arty photo project: ↓

I’m absolutely captivated by the patterns left in the sand by the wind and the receding tide, especially in the oblique, golden light of the setting sun. Besides simply looking super cool, these swoops, swirls, ridges and streaks make me go all philosophical, thinking about the forces that shape us. May the forces that shape you be few of the harsh-winter-wind variety and mostly gentle as the wash of the tide.

 

 

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

 

. . . the Morris Island Lighthouse 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 LightInstead, 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 at Taco Boy, here on Folly Beach, 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.

 

Adventures in Wanderlust