Reflections on Charleston

Reflections on Charleston

The history of the place is steep with dark memories…imagine the revolutionary and civil war major bloody battles fought at your door step as well as the legacy of slavery to bare self witness to each and every day.

There are lots of stories to share, some real and some imagined, about this place’s checkered past. I think more are true than false.

Images of pineapples and palmettos dance in our heads.

A slow pace to enjoy a hot cup of tea, a craft beer or a small batch bourbon (repeat).

Taste the salty oysters on the half shell, savor the hot, puff hush puppies with pecan butter, and don’t miss the grouper.

Sit by sea and take a turn on a swing. Double pump and feel the sea breeze on our skin.

Experience the rice plantation life including the naturalist gardens full of camellias, a single blue heron and an occasional hibernating crocodile warming on a rock. We missed the pesky mosquitoes since the temperatures are cooler. Most of the plantations burned down during the Civil War so the grounds are the real treasures.

Hold hands with a loved one as you stroll down busy Church or King Street. Stop to window shop, tour an historic home, or buy a trinket.

Peer over the intricate cast iron fences and gates of the church graveyards and reflect on the settlers that arrived in 1670 and settled Charles Town, in honor of King Charles II. Read headstones with old family names of Pinckney, Ryan and Calhoun.

Wonder why the dedicated street cleaner had to polish our little street at 5:30 a.m. every morning. We soon relaxed enough to roll over and go back to sleep until the sun came up a couple of hours later and the horse carriages began plopping by. Time to get up!

Thank you Charleston for a restful break and the time for thanksgiving in cities like this in America. Time to go home and get our little house on Ashland decorated for the holidays. The snow babies are tapping.

Bourbon, seagrass and rice

Bourbon, seagrass and rice

We have sampled small batch Bourbon, enjoyed a James Beard award winning chef’s cuisine at Husk and shopped for seagrass ornaments and baskets at Old City Market. We learned about low country history at The Charleston Museum and Old Slave Mart Museum. We toured the Joseph Manigault House; capturing the life style of a wealthy rice plantation family. At one point in South Carolina history, when rice was king, three percent of white slave owners in South Carolina owned all the slaves and most were working on the rice plantations. Rice farming took an incredible amount of workers and the chores were grueling. While once the largest producers of rice were in South Carolina by the 1900’s no rice was grown as a cash crop. The Civil War, hurricanes and fire ended that way of life. Today a few handful of farmers grow rice for local consumption. A chilly rain is our steady companion during the first two days of our respite but this afternoon, the clouds broke and the sun made a presence late this afternoon promising a warmer and drier Thanksgiving Day to spend time together exploring the history and culture of the low country. And no dishes to do or leftovers to contend with at the end of the day. Not that I don’t enjoy the traditions of Thanksgiving, including the preparation of the feast of turkey and all the fixings. It is just some years (two in a row I must admit) matriarchs appreciate a change in the routine and then it becomes at some future date a tradition to relish again. But this year, the chefs of Charleston are in charge of our feast and I can’t wait to see what they have for us to savor, taste and critique.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and families however you elect to spend your day.

My favorite Thanksgiving

My favorite Thanksgiving

My favorite Thanksgiving was the year our very expensive, commercial grade, Vulcan stove decided not to work after an investment made in 1988 that nearly broke us. We both coveted this stove and saw it as the centerpiece to our home and growing nest. The thermostat went out in the beast while I was cooking our turkey dinner that year. RM’s parents were visiting from Kansas and we were in the early stages of remodeling our home on Ashland in FW, Texas after stints in the City of Angeles and Atlanta on the aerospace engineering junket. We had planned a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings but the oven refused to get hotter than 250 degrees. The beautiful turkey just stewed In it’s own bloody juice. RM frantically tried to fix it. Damn…appliance supply parts stores are not open on Thanksgiving day. C1 was a little tyke and was pumped up about the celebratory dinner and refused to consider bed without experiencing it first hand. I think she was two at the time. To get her to go to bed and take off her pretty dress, we forged on with the quasi feast including a Ritz cracker filled with peanut butter and a lighted birthday candle and green olives for the adults. We made a toast, she blew out the candle, gave her a huge hug, sent her to bed, and threw the turkey and fixings in the trash and had a great laugh. RM fixed the oven the next day and we lived to cook another day. Enjoy your family this holiday and remember that often the joy and love happens in the imperfect moments of time together sharing a common experience. Toast to a a great year of Thanksgiving with family, friends, and fellowship. Save the wishbone for me or the Ritz cracker.

Cold Snap and Deep Freeze

Cold Snap and Deep Freeze

A deep freeze covers our nation and we all dig into the back of our closets for the heavy coat, gloves and that special hat.  In some places, we are experiencing the coldest temperatures in 100 years for this time of year — five weeks until winter is official.  I have worn my black boots three days in a row to keep my tootsies from freezing.  Here in Texas, we fell below freezing which is very unusual for us.  We had to cover the basil plants and hope for the best for the ferns and the hanging baskets as the lower than freezing temperatures were not initially predicted.  Or maybe I was just wishing it wasn’t true and willing to sacrifice a plant to enable my denial.  Snow on Sunday is a possibility.  While cold weather brings its challenges especially for the homeless, the poor and folks that have to work out in the elements, it also brings some positive benefits to many of us living in the south with a roof over our heads.  Here are a few that I appreciate:

1.  Kills the mosquitoes.

2. Allows for us in the south to wear boots, tights and winter garb for a few days at least.  Cute boots!

3. Pinon pine in the air.

4. Snuggling.

5. The comfort of warm soup and hot bread.

6.  We can use our ovens without breaking out in a sweat.

7.  Light a fire in the fireplace –or turn on the gas logs!

8. Read a good book by candlelight and/or back lighting from your i-pad in a warm throw.

9. Sit close on couch.

10. Place your cold toes strategically in the middle of a warm back.  RM loves this move.

TGIF to all my chilly friends and families all across the midwest and beyond.  Stay warm and drink a hot cuppa tea.  Did you hear the thunder-storm?  Think about donating warm coats and hats especially in hard to fit sizes if you are in a position to help.   C2 works for a homeless shelter in Illinois and she informed me of the inadequate supply of coats, hats and gloves at this time of year.