Armchair Peregrinations

March 31, 2002

Every evening now that it is mild and spring is here to stay, I sit and rock on the porch of the house in Charleston. I have a nice long visit with my mother. But she usually stays inside and I sit out on that glorious porch. She spends a lot of time during the day out on the porch. I am a night porch person. I feel the wearinss ebb from my tired body as I sink into the chair and the evening descends.

Last night, I could see the beginnings of the white blooms on the dogwood tree in the front yard. The crepe myrtles are starting to leaf out, ever so gingerly. It is a slow, but gradual process. How startlingly beautiful to see how the leaves have changed almost overnight.

Often, I find myself nearly dozing in the rocking chair. The nights are peaceful. There are occasional voices of people passing on the sidewalk, and cars. But it is a side porch, so I don't see the activity in front of me. There is a pretty fountain in the front yard also which provides nice sounds of flowing water. The activity and hectic comings and goings of the day cease when I listen to that fountain and rock on the porch. Lovely.

March 24, 2002

I always face a dilemma this time of year: to go to Magnolia Gardens and be surrounded by hordes of people gawking at the truly awewome diplays of thousands of azaleas and other flowers, or forego a trip there and just savor the azaleas at the college and along the streets of the neighborhoods around me. At Magnolia, it is like a sensory overload. At the garden on the college campus, I can sit by the azaleas and look at them from time to time as I write or read. I can see them in small parcels of loveliness. Yes, the magnificent gardens of Charleston and surrounding area are a splendid and wondrous sight. But I can be content with the smaller versions of this munficence from Nature. But it would be nice to go to Cy press Gardens again. I have not been there in a few years.

Ah, what thoughts of beauty at this time of year. Our streets in the historic district are filled with visitors and locals alike. The weather is sublime and the purple wisteia is festooned on countless trellis and on the tops of brick walls and in trees. Many other types of flowering plants and shrubs are reaching their peak now. Just walking down any street is a pure joy at this time of year. And now is a time of perfection.

March 19, 2002

Azaleas -- they are in bloom everywhere on the college campus. Pink and white and dark, reddish pink -- just like they are every year. Beautiful. All along the brick pathways and streets on campus, there are those wondrous splashes of intense color.

How I love this time of year when these classic Southern shrubs are blooming. The Earth seems so alive. Spring is truly here.

We had several huge azalea bushes in the back yard of our house in New Orleans, and I can remember each Spring since I was a geenager, staring at the flowers, getting up close to marvel at the richness of the colors, the texture of the petals. They lasted only so long, but what a show!

I will have to come to the college as much as I can in the next couple of weeks to see them all in their glory. The landscape is truly transformed.

March 18, 2002

The heat continued yesterday morning. More warm, sultry winds. It was a day for the beach. Instead, when I got out there, the weather was in total contrast. It was cool on the edge of the ocean; slightly foggy and misty; a jacket was needed. Too cool to sit out long, actually. I read some more of Elizabeth Spencer's memoir, laughing at the way she she beautifully writes about the time the family's 19 mules got out of their enclosure and decided, en masse, to make a visit to downtown Carrollton (Mississippi). She is such a splendid writer, and there is nothing I enjoy so much as a good memoir.

I looked around for shells, but nothing of interest. Talked to my brother for awhile when he came out. It was a pleasant afternoon. It turned into a much more typical March than what I had experiencing that morning. We are having record high temperatures for this time of year. And, it will continue tomorrow.

March 16, 2002

The Nature Preserve, 3:15 pm

What an amazing contrast to when I was here a couple of weeks ago. It was cool then, but not cold -- just right, actually. Today it is balmy, tropical. A warm, almost sultry, wind is tyring to cool me a bit after my long walk to this spot overolooking a wide expanse of waterfowl wetlands. it is ony the middle of March, but the weather feels like mid-May. Not hot in comparison to the summer, which will be here more quickly than we can imagine, if today is any indication.

About 10 days ago we had a hard freeze, so I imagine this has definitely slowed down the new leafing on the trees. They would normally be a good bit further along than now, given the weather we have been having.

I just finished photographing the giant live oak tree, hung with moss, framing the trail to the cypress swamp, the bench where I wrote a poem two wekes ago in the lower left of the composition. The swamp is still dry as a bone except for a remaining pool or two of water in the very deepest and lowest part of the swamp. Water is now so precious. That little bit left is from the rain we had about a week ago.

The wind has just died down, and I can barely hear it rustling dry grasses in back me.

Moments ago, I saw in my binoculars the most beautiful Eastern blue bird. It landed on a nearby tree branch, and I was just astonished by the intensity of the blue coloring of its feathers. Almost metallic. What a brilliant dash of color in this still mostly gray world of late winter.

I needed to come out here this afternoon. It is probably a better day to be at the beach, and I always have to decide which direction to take when I am in any way hesitant about which sanctuary to seek. But I just couldn't deal with all the weekend traffic out there. It is much more peaceful and secluded where I am.

March 14, 2002

I was talking to someone at work last night about many of the places I had visited 10-15 years ago in Oregon and Washington when I lived and worked in the Seattle area, and I realized how impossibly long ago it seemed. I saw myself reminiscing from a curiously detached and far-removed place in the present. The details have faded. I remember them well enough, but it has been so long since I have traveled West, or anywhere of any distance (five years), that there is way too much of a disconnect from the experiences themselves, rooted in memory as they are.

In other words, I long to recapture that experience of travel and seeing new places, but it becomes harder and harder to dislodge myself from daily routines and plan a trip, much less pack the car and get going on one. It is so much fun, though, and I miss it terribly. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to have been able to do so much traveling when I was younger, for now I have to plan trips (If do any serious planning at all) around vacation t and annual leave allotments, whereas before I was between jobs or graduate school sessions, unemployed, or simply totally uprooted and receptive to road adventures. And what adventures they were! They changed my life. I used to think and dream of the road constantly. Now I just look back rather wistfully.

March 10, 2002

As soon as I got to Sumter Saturday afternoon, it was apparent Spring had arrived, and in truly its loveliest form: streets full of flowering Bradford pear trees -- delicate white blossoms reminding me of pictures of apple orchards in full bloom. Beatiful. Words can't describe how they look with a blue sky background. The timing was perfect. The weather was mild, almost warm, the clouds and skies complex and fully of wondrous shapes. Thundershowers were in the air. The atmosphere was so mellow in the light of late afternoon and so pleasant to be out walking in that it was all I could do to take it in, to absorb it with all my senses.

This morning the rain and clouds were washed away by a cooler mass of air that left temperatures in the mid 30s and skies to blue and clear they seemed transparent in the sunlight. I took a walk around the path in Memorial Park, delighting in cool breezes, abundant sunshine and camellias literally weighed down with flowers. The huge old tulip tree that is about 125 feet tall, is almost ready to bloom with its subtle yellow flowers. The oaks are in the very earliest stages of leafing out, tentatively. There are still the reminders that winter is not over yet. But overall, this morning and afternoon gave tantalizing glimpses of the very best of the new season to come. I saw daffodils, tulips, and narcissus. Flowers were everywhere. And the azaleas will be having their moments of glory soon. I just want to be outside as much as possible.

When we arrived back in Charleston late this afternoon, I immediately went to the porch to sit in my favorite rocker and soak up as much of the remaining moments of this delightful day as possible. Everyone seems to have the same feeling about the day. Students are returning from spring break and outdoors everywhere, riding bikes, talking in groups, roller blading, making the most of the weekend before classes resume. My brother said Folly Beach was packed. Lots of traffic at the Washout, and everyone wanting to revel in this magnificent weather and time of year.

March 8, 2002

Spring is definitely in the air. I noticed it for sure late last night coming back from the laundromat. There was that freshness, that indescribable coolness and mildness. It was a pleasure to be outside, walking beneath the night sky and stars. I would have liked to continue on, but I was soon back at the apartment. Once inside, one is in another world, for sure.

Our Japanese magnolias are starting to bloom, as is the Carolina jasmine, a delicately scented yellow flower. I am looking to see tulips and daffodils soon, and the azaleas with their extraordinary patches of color all over our city. This is such a glorious time of year. It gives me hope, and it lets me put aside and cope with those people who see only gloom and who let the hope of the season slip away from them. Now is the time to rejoice in life, to be thankful and glad. I certainly am.

March 3, 2002

The winds are warm and almost tropical. It felt so strange to see the clouds zipping across a moonlit sky after our cold snap and icy, frigid, deep-clear star-filled skies. Winter one day and spring the next. But it rained a lot yesterday and the dry earth cried out in gratitude. No more dust and drought for at least a little while. Rain tomorrow, too. And I am glad.

It was nice to sit out on the porch for a little while at the house in Charleston and take in the night air after being unable to the last few nights. I am over there after work every day, so have ample time to indulge my favorite relaxing pastime -- rocking in my chair on that big porch. Nothing so relaxes me after a harrying day at work. Unwind and relax.

March 2, 2001

I was coming down one of the busiest highways in our city yesterday after a bracing and fine walk at the nature preserve when, jarringly, I saw fire trucks up a head and flashing lights. Traffic was backing up a bit. Eager to avoid any slowdown in my bid to get home as quickly as possible, I turned off on the first side street and found myself in a twisting, turning maze of dead end streets, run down houses and trailers, uglification, and general unpleasantness as far as scenery goes. Not good.

I came to the final dead end, one of those situations where the road ends in someone's driveway and it might as well be way out in the middle of nowhere. So, I quickly turned around and headed back the way I came. Got back on the major thoroughfare. The wreck was being cleared up, there was no problem getting around it, and I was soon quickly on my way, minus, a totally unnecessary detour, and another little object lesson in life. A little one indeed, but something, anyway.

March 1, 2002

Feb. 28, 3 pm

It was COLD last night. The winds ushering in this huge cold air mass blustered in all night Tuesday and during the day Wednesday. It was incredible. There was that powerful feeling of great stirrings in the weather, unusual conditions and record cold coming our way. IAnd so it was.

Early this mornng I woke up cold and put on another flannel shirt. The heat didn't seem enough, but I didn't bother to get up and change the thermostat.

But oh, it was so nice to get out and walk in that cold, but not too frigid, air this morning. I enjoyed it immensely. A real reminder that winter is still very much here despite all the signs of Spring everywhere. Now that season will be delayed. That's not so bad. We had the warmest January on record, I believe. At least, worldwide it was the warmest January. So I like this cold except for its effects on the plants.

The tree branches are going to be bare for a while longer. The sky is New Mexico blue outside my window, and I hear some brave birds chirping as they search for food. Tomorrow, a day off, will be devoted to some road traveling, I hope. Getting out in the countryside to enjoy the winter landscape again before everything changes. Something about winter. It's been nice this year.

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