Armchair Peregrinations

June 29, 2002

One more day of June, but summer is packing a punch. Yesterday was hot, hot, but my sister, niece, nephew and I packed into the car for a trip out to Charles Towne Landing State Park, site of the original settlement of Charleston in 1670. It's located on the banks of a small tidal creek that connects with the nearby Ashley River a few miles above the present-day city.

There are seven miles of paved and other trails, a reproduction 17th century sailing vessel, archaeological digs, living history interpretations and the like.

This is a popular park, but in recent years it has come under criticism for not fully exploring and defining its missiion. It has a small zoo, for one thing, which doesn't need to be there. But it's there because they have to give all the thousands of school kids on tour each year something *they* would like to see instead of all the *history* stuff. Things got rather badly run down there, according to news reports I recall reading about five or six years ago, but apparently they have had an infusion of funds to improve and upgrade the resources. It is, after all, the most historically significant site in the whole Lowcountry of South Carolina, arguably, since the New World settlement of the area got started there. Naturally, a trip to an historic site such as this revivies my interest in South Carolina history and makes me want to finally delve in Walter Edgar's massive and definitive history of the state published a few years ago, a copy of which I proudly own, but leave unread, to my chagrin.

It really is a beautiful setting on many acres of woods right in the middle of the sprawling Charleston suburbs. You really think you've left the city far behind.

It was too hot to really enjoy yesterday, though. There was that feirce humidity and the hot sun shining down. Cicadas droned energetically in trees, which I enjoyed hearing immensely, while we tramped along the paths, absorbing and appreciating as much as we could the natural beauty of the place. But after an hour or so, it was too much on my colder-climate, Seattle-based family members. We headed off for an afternoon at Folly Beach where the cool ocean breezes always hold summer at bay and which were a startling contrast to the inland torpor of summer where the season's finest, broiling conditions were on display.

June 24, 2002

A week of intermittent clouds and rain have transformed the Lowcountry from a dry, drought-riddden landscape into a green, wet, and thoroughly different place. How nice it is to see grass that is green and healthy in summer instead of crunchy brown stuff everywhere.

This merciful rain has primarily affected the coast, however. The rest of the state is still dry as a bone, and last week it was declared to be in "severe" drought status. That is bad. The Edisto River near us is barely flowing apparently. I read where the normal flow at Givans Ferry is 3,200 cfs but last week was at 115. I could hardly believe it. I thought the Edisto was more heavily sustained by springs, but I guess I am wrong. The corn crop is about gone statewide and others are following.

This drought has gone on for four years. The coast's rainfall this past week is probably on a temporary reprieve. It is so nice, though, to actually see rainfall. Actual rain falling from the sky. I don't even mind the thick blanket of clouds.

June 18, 2002

Cool and cloudy this morning, off from work, doing laundry and other errands and tasks. Relaxing and enjoyable to have some time free from work.

It seems like ages now since I took my vacation road trip that carried me down back roads through five states. Now I am ensconced in my daily routines again. Glad for the stability but missing the adventure of travel on the open road under sunny blue skies and summer clouds. The stuff dreams are made of. I have had a taste of it and am ready to get back on the road again. I am planning shorter trips.

I have been trekking back and forth to the laundry room and each time I pass the lamp post, a happy mockingbird, perched atop the post, has been singing the sweetest and most delightful songs. It cheers my soul. Thank you, dear bird. You have given me much pleasure this morning.

June 17, 2002

The other afternoon at my lunch break, I walked to the college garden, where I retreat so often to get away from the throbbing world all around me, but curiously, there was no peace and quiet there. I could not believe the energy and gusto with which two toads, or frogs, which I spied in the fish pond, were croaking out their greetings or whatever it is these sounds signify. I thought I was in the middle of some primeval swamp. The sound was awesome. I could hear it at least 200 feet away. It just didn't quite fit the setting, but I had to laugh. I set up my chair underneath my favorite pecan tree and just enjoyed a little bit of the wilderness symphony I stumbled upon. There were other Nature sounds, too, of course, but they were not too noticeable thanks to the energetic frogs. Such is life in the middle of the city in a sanctuary where not only I, but other creatures take refuge and delight.

June 13, 2002

The garden at the house in Charleston is coming into its own now for the summer. Lush with all the Hydrangea bushes in bloom with their big, oversided blue flowers in round clusters. And along the semi-circular path, hundreds of orange marigolds are a stunning sight to see in the golden sunlight of afternoon. They are so brilliant with color that just about leaps out. Startling, and, as my mother says, happy. Marigolds are happy flowers. They are not everbody's favorite, but I like them a lot.

Summer is here with a powerful hint of July already this week with rather fierce heat and humidity. Not as bad as it can get, but it is getting there. It makes the cool evening with the porch ceiling fan whirring that much more appealing. I was sitting out there tonight taking in the breeze from the fan and enjoying the rather sultry night air. Still, it was not bad. It's nice to be outdoors after a full day inside at work.

June 9, 2002

Yesterday was like an early day in spring. It was quite extraordinary. I kept waiting for the heat to rise with the morning, but I stepped outside to windy, mild, almost cool temperatures. I knew I had to get out to the nature preserve that afternoon because it was likely to be the last such day of decent weather for the summer.

It was a perfect idea on a perfect day. I had enough energy and the weather was so fine that I walked around the entire perimeter of the waterfowl wetlands area, stopping occasionally to look into the swamp woods, or sit on benches along the way and daydream for a bit. There were a few other people out, but I had it mostly to myself, as always.

This is truly the perfect place for me to relieve stress and anxiety. Each time I come, I feel the tension of the city fade away and be replaced by a calm that only comes when I am surrounded by this natural beauty and quiet. It is my escape from everything, more so even than the beach, I must reluctantly admit.

June 5, 2002

It was very noticeable this week that summer is truly here. A heat wave over the weekend, and that hot and clear with traces of clouds pattern has settled in. It is amazing how quickly one accepts this. I don't like the heat, but I do like the summer sounds at night and the mood that summer puts me in.

Last night at the beach, it was nice to sit out until near sundown, and have that summer beach feeling. The vacationers have arrived to rent houses for the week, another indicators of the start of the summer season. I read for awhile then just lay there in my chair looking at the ocean until it started getting dark. I will be going out there more and more frequently as it stays light very late.

Tonight, I just got back in from a walk in the neighborhood, and the crickets and insect sounds are heavy in the trees and even in the air, seemingly. I think it's a bit early yet for the cicadas, but they will be here soon. How I look forward to that sound. It always relaxes me to take a walk just before sunset. I feel grounded here, at home. It's peaceful.

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