Monday, February 27, 2017

Brookgreen Gardens

 I have been procrastinating on writing about Brookgreen Gardens because it's an immense place (4500 acres) with so many sculptures (1445), beautiful old trees, fountains, gorgeous plants, a native animal zoo. 
 But here goes, 
and if you get tired of the photos I'll understand!  
If you remember from this post, , Brookgreen was created by Anna and Archer Huntington to display her works and those of other American sculptors.  It first opened in 1932.

This giant sculpture of Anna's, two fighting horses, greets you at the gate.

She created this sculpture representing herself and Archer, called The Visionaries.

Many of the pools had floating glass balls that were so pretty, bobbing and reflecting light like giant bubbles.   You can see them in the water here.


What can I say? 
 I love owls so I had to show you this one!  We have them hooting over our house in the fall and spring and there is nothing like that sound.

 The grounds, the old oaks, surprise water features ...

How to make birds that look like they are in flight, suspended without support, out of metal ...


The Fountain of the Muses garden, in bronze by Carl Miller.  The canopy overhead is made of strings of lights.  It must be enchanting at night with the reflections.
The figures represent the fine arts -- poetry, architecture, music, and painting -- by what they hold in their hands and each is riding a dolphin.  
At the far back left is The Muse, the goddess Aganippe.

You can guess which one this represents.

And my favorite ...

Out of the trees emerges Don Quiote on his horse Rocinante, just after he loses his joust with the windmill, cast in aluminum by Anna Huntington.  
I love this story, I adore the music from the musical.
 And look who is coming behind him! Sancho Panzo by Carl Paul Jennewin.

There are benches so you can sit and view the piece from all sides.  We were alone and The Writer and I sat and began to sing softly, "I am I Don Quiote, the Lord of LaMancha. My destiny calls and I go.
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward,
Oh, withersoever they blow!"
" I'm Sancho, yes, I'm Sancho.
I'll follow my master till the end.
I'll tell the world proudly
I'm his squire, I'm his friend!"
The price of admission includes three consecutive days of visits.  We returned every day and still didn't see nearly all the park.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


In case you were wondering where I have been . . .

Come sit down with me here in the sunroom, my favorite place in the house.  
We'll watch the birds, drink some tea, and have a catch-up.

First of all, we finally got to the top of the list for removal of trees damaged by Hurricane Matthew last fall.  

 Fortunately this huge old long-needled pine didn't come down, but it lost some very large limbs.  We have been tiptoeing around it for months because the biggest limb got hung up on a stub of another limb and remained dangling in the tree.  

We removed a portion of the fence also damaged by the hurricane so that the tree service could drive this small tracked vehicle into the backyard.  We call them cherry pickers here; they raise the man with the chainsaw high into the tree and maneuver him into position.

 I'm not good at estimating heights, but this guy was working waaaay up in the air!  
It took six men a couple hours to clear out four giant limbs, cut them up, hand-carry them to the street, and put parts of them through the woodchipper.  Another neighbor hauled away the largest logs for his fireplace.  

📞 📞 📞 📞 📞

The political situation here has only gotten worse, in my opinion, and we spend time every day calling congressmen and our state government to beg them to stop what is going on in Washington.  Mostly they respond with something that has nothing to do with the issue you have addressed, but one feels one has to do something.  Wednesday our senator was supposed to appear at a Town Hall meeting in a town a half hour away.  We brought our protest signs and hoped, but the senator chose not to appear.  So disheartening.  
🌸 🌺 🌸 🌺 🌸


The camellias are almost done blooming.  We have several species and these are the largest, which you can see here  are almost as big as my hand!

Now the azaleas have started and we have lots of those, too.  

It continues to be exciting to see what new has shown up in our garden!

🌅  🐬  🌅
 The weather has been gorgeous, in the 70s most every day, and most days we walk the beach.  

A couple days ago the beach was littered with dozens of dead jellyfish.
They aren't really fish, more like a floating mouth and intestines in a big see-through muscle and a trail of tentacles behind.  
They have no brain but some have an automatic response that releases cells that are a painful toxin.  It paralyzes prey, and if it hits human skin it causes burning welts that really hurt.  Others kinds take in their prey with water and filter out the food part.  I'm pretty sure the ones dead on the beach this day were Cannonball jellyfish, not a stinging kind. 
Apparently jellyfish travel in groups and sometimes the current washes them up on shore.  As they are 93% water, once out of the water they quickly die.

🏡. 🏡. 🏡

And yes, it's only February but gardening has  begun!  Supposedly you can grow new plants from cuttings of celery, romaine lettuce, green onions, etc, and plant them in the garden when the roots grow.  
Why not try it?  Soon we will have a small salad from nothing!  

In the outdoor garden I have planted peas, greens, basil, beans, and we have a fig tree coming.  Mmmmm . . . good eating ahead!

😂. 😂. 😂. 
He who laughs last ... lasts! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Valentine's Day Adventure

My Valentine and I celebrated the day with a drive up the coast to 
Wilmington, North Carolina.  
 We were in no hurry and got a late start, drove around the lovely old city and read historical markers on the buildings, 
admired the mansions built with cotton money, 
and looked around for a place to eat a late lunch.
We settled on this block, the old Cotton Exchange, a renovated area on the river that also used to be a Red Light District in what was quite a rowdy port town.

Cotton really was "king" in this area and almost all cotton that was grown in the Carolinas passed through the Port of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River.  
Alexander Sprunt & Sons was the largest cotton exporter in the U.S. in the late 1800s and he built the Cotton Exchange, the low building at the center of the photo.  During the cotton season he had 800 employees working in the exchange and on the docks.


I was surprised at the size of a cotton bale and awed at the apparent strength it must have taken to move them about.  This bound bale was nearly five feet tall and equivalent to more than three hay bales stacked on top of one another.  
It has to weigh at least 250-300 lbs.  

The Cotton Exchange is a labyrinth of stairways, alleyways, and odd levels of shops and restaurants. We chose Paddy's Hollow, a pub in The Cotton Exchange, for lunch.  The food was nothing out of the ordinary but we enjoyed the atmosphere of dark, low ceilings and old wooden decor.

 In 1861 Confederate soldiers began to join the sailors in port, bringing gamblers, prostitutes, swindlers, fighting, and alcohol to Wilmington, nearly destroying a previously quiet Southern town.  During its heyday, this small area along the river known as Paddy's Hollow had 39 saloons as well as numerous dance halls and brothels.  The town commissioners and local police force were overwhelmed with the soldiers pouring in and had no way of keeping up with the chaos they caused.  There is even a story of drunken Confederate soldiers seeing the blue uniforms of the local police, mistaking them for Union officers, and commencing to fire at them.
When Wilmington was captured by the North in 1865, Union soldiers took over the town and for awhile continued to enjoy all Paddy's Hollow had to offer.  

It was a fun Valentine's Day adventure and we are looking forward to going back as there is lots to see and lots of history there.

Oh, you were wondering what was in the Valentine owl bag in the first photo?  
Dark chocolate truffles and A&W root beer twizzlers.  
Yes, my Valentine does know the way to my heart!

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Atalaya, the winter home of two famous Americans, is now a state park and home of one of our favorite beaches.  In 1931 Archer Huntington bought over 10,000 acres of beach property in Georgetown County when his wife Anna's tuberculosis progressed and she needed a milder place to spend the winter and try to continue her work.
 Anna was a sculptor and Archer a well known scholar, businessman, and poet from Connecticut. 
o The house is empty now but you can take a very interesting tour, which we did when my daughter visited us.  
It was impossible to get one photo that shows how it looks, but the house is built around a square courtyard with a covered walkway down the middle and a tower.
Each side of the square is 200 feet long with rooms inside, a total of 30 rooms including those for live-in help.


Archer was the largest employer in the county during the Great Depression. He brought in skilled craftsmen from his Newport News Shipyard to train local people and then used entirely local labor to build Atalaya.  He was known to withhold his approval on projects and have them redone just to keep the men working during tough times.

The water tower for fresh water and the central walkway

Anna's sculptures were huge and she had both indoor and outdoor large studios.  The Huntingtons kept quite a menagerie of animals to pose as subjects for her sculptures, including horses and bears, so you can imagine how large the studios were.




During the 1930s the Huntingtons brought the first paved roads to Georgetown County as well as a clinic, schools, and a dentist office.

Nine thousand of the acres Huntington purchased are now Brookgreen Gardens, a botanical and sculpture garden the Huntingtons built to display Anna's and her friends' work.  

Next time I will show you some of the beautiful artwork in Brookgreen Gardens.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday's Walk

It's very early spring in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  We have had a couple cold days with lows near freezing but it's warming up again and we set out this morning to look for some signs of spring.
 Duck hunting is about over for the winter so these areas that have been closed for hiking are opening up this week.  The maze of old rice dikes, built by hand by slaves, make great walkways through the marshes that used to be rice fields along the North Santee River.  
The rice fields have reverted to grassy marshes and cypress swamps and now is the time to enjoy them -- before the mosquitoes make it impossible to hike without going mad.

 The first green plants were blooming among the cypress knees. The slight hints of yellow at the back of the photo are the flowers.

I wasn't able to find out what these are.  
Some kind of water plants out of which grows a strange flower stalk with knobby things on it that I assume have pollen on them. 



These old timbers lying on the side of the dike look like parts of the original wooden gates that let the water in and out of the rice fields.  

If so, they were hewn in the 1800s by slave hands.

 On this map, the dotted lines are the major dikes where we hiked.  The faint lines within the green area are smaller dikes, marking the boundaries of each individual rice field.  I hadn't realized that each field had a name, but it makes sense.  How else would the overseer tell the slaves where to go to work every morning?  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

For the Birds

I was sorting photos this afternoon and realized I have quite a few bird photos 
so I thought I'd share a few today.

🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 

One of my Mom's favorite restaurants and one we usually visit while we are with her is 
The Thirsty Clam.  It's a funky place with a, shall we say interesting clientele, live music, fantastic seafood, and on their patio and around the yard, a parrot rescue operation.  
A pet parrot is a huge commitment because they live a very long time and can outlive their owners.  People have to move, often to an apartment or assisted living arrangement, and their pets aren't allowed in the new home.

Others underestimate the amount of care, noise, and mess a parrot entails and no longer want them.

Parrots form a deep attachment with their human and it's difficult for them to adjust to change.  Owners who are deeply attached to their birds will miss them and they worry about what will happen to them when they can no longer keep them.

The owner of The Thirsty Clam has a soft spot for people and birds and started a parrot rescue where previous owners are encouraged to come as often as they want to spend time with their old friends.  

 In the case of birds who bite, over-vocalize, or pick on other birds, the birds are socialized, trained out of obnoxious behaviors, and prepared for new homes.  


The birds are fed treats from the menu, such as corn-on-the-cob and salad.  This guy was isolated because he bites people and fights with other birds.

By day the parrots enjoy the spacious outdoor cages and perches on the restaurant patio where they can interact with humans and bask in some Florida sunshine.  At night the owner takes them all home with him.
🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴 🌴
Several species of native Lowcountry birds live at Brookgreen Gardens in a huge aviary.  This place feels magic to me -- to be able to walk among the birds and be so close to species you can only see with binoculars or a birding scope in the wild.  

Boardwalk through a cypress swamp
Snowy egrets and night herons


Black-crowned night heron

(I could have reached out and touched him!)

Wood ducks 


 I have been a bird watcher since the Dark Ages, when it was a slightly nutty and humorous thing to be. 

My parents brought me my first bird book, a gift from a trip they took to Chicago, when I was about seven.  

I used to tiptoe out of the house early in the morning before anyone else was awake and go looking for birds.  

I have 249 species on my life list.