Armchair Peregrinations

November 28, 1998

I can't imagine a more perfect day than here in Charleston yesterday. Clear skies, mid-seventies, unlimited visibility, and a mellow, late autum light that just seemed to bathe the marshes and harbor. I looked out into the distance from atop the Connector driving back to James Island this afternoon and just wanted to drink it all in. The peninsula of old Charleston never looked more inviting and beautiful as it jutted out toward the Atlantic at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

Now that the end of the month is here, I began the ritual of changing wall calendars to December. I was greeted today by country Christmas scenes showing snow falling, horses pulling wagons full of kids, old houses decorated for the season, and a barn and horses on a icy cold winter morning up North. All these snowy scenes -- how exotic they seem to me here in the comparatively warm Lowcountry of South Carolina. I reluctantly bid farewell to some of my November calendar scenes. I really got comfortable with them over the past few weeks, and their departure signals the end of fall as surely as the now-bare oak tree across the street from my apartment. I'll miss the autum colors so vividly portrayed in those calendar paintings and photographs. But I look forward to the cold, bracing winter beach at Folly the next few months. It's a particularly nice time to walk, and the possibility of finding large shells increases significantly. The beach is comparatively empty this time of year, and the cold wind in my face is always a bracing tonic that invigorates me after an afternoon indoors in front of the computer.

Yesterday, we all went out to the beach and took a short walk, looking for shells. We discovered an unusual number of real pretty small shells, perfectly smooth and glossy there on the low-tide beach. It was warm and nice out at 4:30, but by 5 it was noticeably cooler as the sun was setting. We saw two porpoises right offshore as the sunset glowed briefly on the horizon.

A short time later, after having seafood at the restaurant on the Pier, several of us took a short walk on the Pier up to the point where the first breakers were coming ashore. We had to walk a ways, as it was one of the lowest tides I could recall seeing there. We always look with fond memories at the spot on the beach where the old Folly Beach Pavillion stood many years ago, a favorite place for us to go as kids to play games and stroll along the short boardwalk. To us it might as well have been Atlantic City in its heyday. It was an exciting place. Now there are only memories and a hotel and new condominium to mark the spot. I can't complain too much, though. The beach up a few miles where we have our house is always there, and, in many respects is better than ever with the dunes having built up so much over the past few years. I have an assignment to take black and white pictures out there. It will be quite a challenge as I haven't done this kind of photography in many years.

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