Monday, December 5, 2022

Is It a Signal Tree?




 

 Is this old water oak tree on a trail we frequent a signal or marker tree, made by  Native Americans and used as a navigational aid in the forests?  By bending a young sapling at a right angle to the ground, they altered a tree to serve as a signpost to others, indicating a trail direction or marking a point of interest, such as a natural spring or a safe river crossing.




 


 As the tree  matured, it grew back upward toward the light, pointing the way to the desired direction to whomever passed.   


  We aren’t sure if this tree is a signal tree or not. There are only a few hundred documented examples in the United States and no studies done in our state.


  A survivor of hurricanes and loggers, fires and diseases, it is several hundred years old, plenty old enough to have done the job.








  I call it the Elephant Tree because of its bark.  What do you think? Do you see the elephant leg there? 


 



 


  It’s one of those trees I can’t resist. Don’t tell anyone, but when we pass by, I always stop and give it a hug! 


The waxing moon 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving Over the Years

  Thanksgiving traditions that seemed set in stone when I was little are fond memories 70+ years later. When we were children we were dressed up in our Sunday best and taken to Grandma’s house for the day. There we sat down to a huge meal of turkey and all the trimmings served on the company china, with lots of polished silverware, and huge heavy serving dishes to pass. Dinner at 12 pm, on the dot!  


  After the meal, the “ladies” retired to the kitchen where they chatted, washed and dried all the “good dishes” and scrubbed the pots and pans while the grandpas and Dad dozed in comfortable chairs. Weather permitting, an afternoon walk was followed by games of cribbage.


  At 6 pm (on the dot!), all the plates and silver and leftovers came out again for “supper”, followed by another session of more dishwashing in the kitchen. At last, bundled up in snow suits, we fell asleep in the cold car on the way home.  Dad carried us in to bed and when we woke up it was Friday. 




  That tradition of going to Grandma’s house changed when, just out of college, the Writer and I were married in September and I cooked my first Thanksgiving feast in November for a houseful.  


Around a makeshift table, guests sat in borrowed chairs and included the grandparents who had cooked all those Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood. 


  Much pressure for the new cook!







  No one was more astonished than I was when I produced a huge turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, vegetables, and assorted pies that all tasted delicious! 








  Subsequent Thanksgivings were spent in many different ways and places as people moved, relationships changed, another generation was added, beloved grandparents died. A most memorable holiday was the one in 1987 when I returned from Mexico, jet lagged and exhausted, on the day before Thanksgiving with two newly adopted children!


  Other unforgettable Thanksgivings have been spent serving holiday meals to Hmong, Somali and other new immigrants and homeless people in our town, followed by cleaning up after hundreds of diners.  Never have I felt more fortunate and thankful for my own blessings than when serving these people. 


  Now our children have young families, large houses, new traditions, and we are the guests. This year we will have dinner in Charleston with the families of two children, including a newborn baby. Missing will be one son in Florida with a baby due any minute, one daughter in Germany, and another in Minnesota. 



  Wherever and however (or even IF) you celebrate Thanksgiving, Thursday can be a day to reflect on and appreciate our blessings and to vow to bless and be a blessing in the lives of others in return. 




Happy Thanksgiving!

  

Friday, November 11, 2022

Finally … Fall!!

  We had to travel a ways, but we finally found some fall color.
  The trees here on the coast that do lose their leaves in autumn this year went directly from green to brown to bare. Fall is my favorite season and I was missing it! Over the weekend I saw a photo someone had taken of a beautiful tree in full fall colors, so we decided to take a drive and find it. 

   And we did. At Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge near McBee, SC, we had the whole 46,000-acre preserve to ourselves! Beautiful hilly roads meandered through longleaf pine woods with small lakes, a few deciduous trees, and occasional golden fields of wire grass breaking up the green of the pines.         

  Longleaf pine once covered 90 million acres of the southeastern United States until it was cleared by the timber industry in the 20th century. Places like Sandhill attempt to restore the pine forests to the state.

Baby long leaf pines and young oaks

 Maples

   Before the long drive home, we chose a trail to hike that took us through the tall pines, down a hill to Martin’s Lake. The trail ended at a boardwalk and photo blind where we hung out a while with a flotilla of paddling Canada geese. 
  On the way out we exchanged surprised looks with a big buck deer strolling across the road, thankful this big guy was in a preserve and would be safe later this month from hunters.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Election Day November 8

  Midterm elections in the United States are on Tuesday. All elections are important but this one is another one that feels especially so. 

   Voting is both a privilege and a responsibility and just in case someone is still thinking about their vote, here is some good advice. 







Sunday, October 30, 2022

BOO!!



  Some of the historic houses in town go all out decorating for Halloween, which is Monday night.



The witches are life-sized, appropriately ugly, and looking right into each others’ eyes as they concoct their spell. 

  Going to be spooky to walk up here after dark!














  More Dark Ladies brewing … mischief?













  This house is just around the corner from us and they always have homemade decorations for each holiday. This year they have the traditional Halloween candy — candy corn — cut from wood and handpainted. 

  This trio of little witches is just down the street. I think they are homemade and quite charming, with their fire pit “cauldron”.


 I like this sentiment. 


  We are ready for trick-or-treaters. Hope we get a few. Traditions are changing and not many go door to door anymore as the churches and social clubs have kind of taken over the holiday. 
🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃 🎃

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Scarecrow Contest

  There weren’t many entries in the annual Scarecrow Contest this year. Not sure why except maybe everyone was tired out from the huge wooden boat show the weekend before when there were thousands of visitors on the streets in Georgetown. 
  Anyway, here are some of the offerings. 



It was a beautiful October day, clear skies and cooler temperatures in Rainey Park.


 

Representing The Shrimp Dock, where the shrimpers come in to sell their catch, is Gorty the Georgetown fisherman. 

  You can tell Gorty is the Real Deal because he is wearing the white rubber boots that tell you he is a man who makes his living from the sea. 






  Now she’s pretty, but would she scare a crow???





  And, our favorite, the scariest scarecrow in the park, is this guy.















  

Not sure who sponsored him or who he is, but those worms and cockroaches are definitely 
crrrrr—eeeeepy!



  In other news this week, we became grandparents again, to — another baby boy! This is Grayson and his big brother Jackson, age 2.


(If anyone is counting, its now grandsons 8, granddaughters 0!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Meet Frank!

  This is our new family member and Bob the Border Collie’s new best friend.  

It’s Frank! 


  Frank is 10 months old, adopted from the St Francis Animal Center, the No Kill shelter in our town. He was rescued along with 40 other cats from a “hoarding situation” this summer, vaccinated, neutered, and microchipped at St Francis. Pronounced healthy, he moved on to the Purr & Pour Cat Cafe in town to be socialized and adopted.



  The Purr & Pour is so popular you have to have a reservation to come in for a coffee, tea, or glass of wine and a baked people-treat to spend time with the cats!

  It’s also a $20 donation to St Francis for the privilege and the place is alway full.

  We visited the day before Hurricane Ian hit and they had 17 resident cats.





  There is every kind of fun for cats at the Purr & Pour, along with chairs, couches, and fluffy rugs for the human visitors to share with the cats.











  I spent a couple hours petting and playing and holding cats and … couldn’t decide for sure which cat was ours.  

So I called The Writer to come and help. 

  He walked in and petted two cats. The second one licked his hand, presented his belly for rubs, and purred with all his might. He (The Writer) was smitten! Funny enough, he had no idea it was the same cat of the 17 I had been leaning toward choosing!

  You can’t just walk in and walk out with a cat. You have to provide references and answer questions about your past pets and other pets at home. You sign a promise that the cat will have regular checkups and vaccinations and that it will be an indoor-only cat. Then you wait while they check up on you to get a phone call saying, come and get your boy. So, we went home with an empty cat carrier to wait and see. 






Just as everything was shutting down for the hurricane the next day, we got the call saying we could come and get him.  

   


  It’s taken Frank no time at all to make himself at home.  It’s funny how he has fit himself into Bob’s routine and expects a treat for himself at the times Bob regularly gets one. 


 






  I’m so happy to have Frank. It just doesn’t feel like a home is complete without a cat!