Armchair Peregrinations

February 23, 2003

It was cloudy and dreary all day yesterday, and then the winds started up and I knew a change in the weather was coming.

I love windy nights. I sat on the porch of the house in Charleston and rocked in the chair, feeling the energy and vibrancy of those powerful gusts of wind as they stirred the palmettos and other trees, passing through the area swiftly.

Chimes played in the wind, not far off from where I sat. The last of the rain had stopped and the world beyond the porch was enfolded by the night and the cold front dashing through hurriedly.

The evening was one of change and anticipatiion. As spring nears, there will be more of these windy days and nights. I look forward to them.

Feb. 17, 2003

College of Charleston,
Feb. 14, 12:30 pm

At the garden in the center of the college campus where I so often retreat at my lunch hour to escape from work and city life, I recently saw and spoke with a woman who passed by where I usually sit and who commented to me what a peaceful and treasured sanctuary this little out-of-the-way spot is, how little-used and yet how special and lovely it is.

I agreed with her completely, of course, and felt as if I were talking to a kindred soul. Her eyes lit up and sparkled as she conveyed those sentiments to me, believing that I, too, most fervently concurred that the garden, with its trees and shurbs, it's azaleas and camellias which bloom so lovingly in spring and winter, and it's goldfish pond and waterfall, make this congested and crowded part of the city infinitely more enjoyable. All the surrounding noise and hurriedness are lost and disappear once I am within the walls of this tranquil garden world.

As I sit here remembering that encounter, I am grateful that for years now I have had this place to come to.

Feb. 15, 2003

The other morning I had occasion to get up before dawn, facing a very stressful event, and as I had hoped, I looked out the sliging doors to the beginning of the most lovely and beautiful sunrise. As the minutes passed and I was passing over the Connector between Charleston and James Island, the crimson hues became ever more radiant, ethereal, miraculous -- a most wondrous gift, divine, unearthly. A feast for the eyes.

It lasted for such a short time. That is one reason all such gifts are so precious: they are one of a kind and of such brief duraction that we have only the sweet memory of their departing light to hold onto until the next time we have such a splendid and life-enhancing sight before our eyes.

Feb. 9, 2003

The skies were clear and blue with a sprinkling of clouds at the Nature Preserve as I began my Sunday afternoon walk today in this most treasured of sanctuaries. Each time I turn off the busy highway, I enter a realm of calm and unity. Things seem to be in right order there. Everything is as it should be. I had my camera and binoculars just in case, although there were not too many birds to observe.

My walk took me through woods just past the visitor center and toward the boardwalk through the cypress swamp. The water was still and dark tea-colored. The boardwalk wove past sections of cypress and tupelo gum trees. Not a bit of wind, or so slight I could hardly detect it. How nice, also, to notice the winter sunlight on the bark of the trees and the way that same sunlight makes this open woodland seem so inviting and cheery. It's so easy to see the sky in these winter woods.

At the waterfowl staging area where there are acres of open transitional and freshwater marsh, I noticed in the distance the first shades of red in the swamp maples, reddish seeds that are the first harbinger of spring in our woods. They seem early this year. Usually late February, as I recall. But when I see this sight each time I visit the preserve in late winter, I know for sure that the new season is not far off. And in the South Carolina Lowcountry, late February begins to herald spring very clearly. I am ready for the change.

Feb. 6, 2003

How nice it was to go in the kitchen of the house in Charleston and see a big bowl full of the most beautiful camellias from the front garden. And to know that just last week we had temps of around 18 degrees. What a lovely sight to behold. Camellias are the delight of winter. They bloom in the cold weather. Think of that. How magical.

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