South Carolina peaches have been grown commercially in this state since the 1860s.
South Carolina ranks second in peach production in the United States (California is first) and grows over thirty varieties of peaches.
For years each family orchard marketed their peaches in roadside stands that
dotted the backroads. Handpainted signs enticed motorists to stop and buy the makings for a snack or a mouthwatering peach pie.
A few still stand, overgrown by weeds and time, like this one near Hemingway.
You can’t buy peaches at family orchards anymore, but you can find local South Carolina peaches at some weekly farmers markets. And they are the best! For the couple weeks they are in season, we eat as many as we can with our healthy morning oatmeal concoction. But once in a while you just have to be decadent ...
We went to an huge art show last weekend in Lake City, SC, a small town in the midlands that holds an annual juried show for Southeastern artists. Big prizes (like the first prize of $50,000) draw 400 works, displayed in historic buildings all over town. The entries seemed to lean heavily toward political and social problems for their inspiration. I thought I would show you some contenders and see what you think.
Which one would you pick for the $50,000 prize?
“Whom Do We Save?”
DescriptionOn June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. Orlando Police Department officers shot and killed him after a three-hour standoff.
On June 12, 2016, 49 people were murdered and 53 wounded in a shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This piece is a memorial to the victims by Forrest Lawson.
A Very Long Goodbye
The piece is about those afflicted with degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and their loved ones who care for them. The artist Olga Yukhno says, “They have to live through these experiences, sometimes for years, seeing the person disappear every day, become less of themself. It's like living a perpetual funeral, losing them one brain cell at a time.” Besides the photos there are small notes written by friends and families who have lost a loved one that way.
And the winner is ... #2! “6/12/16”
The artist is a young man in graduate school who says he is going to use the money to repay his student loans.
I think it just makes sense that a state with killer alligators and a variety of poisonous snakes would also have predaceous plants. I’d been hoping to see some (the plants, not the reptiles) on one of our hikes, and yesterday was the day! On a colorful walk through a private garden, Moore Farms Botanical Garden near Lake City, we saw 2,250 carnivorous pitcher plants, natives of coastal South Carolina.
These plants grow wild in bogs (spongy wet areas), only in small areas in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. They are so interesting because they ‘eat’ pollinating insects in the spring, trapping them inside a rolled leaf tube. Some
pitchers have a leaf flare over the top as an umbrella to keep rain from diluting the digestive juices inside.
The tube is studded inside with one-way hairs that prevent the unsuspecting visitor from escaping and with nectar-secreting glands that produce tasty sugar and a toxin. The wetness makes the tube slippery and they fall down to be digested in a fluid at the bottom of the tube.
The trumpeter pitcher plant (left) is found in a few locations only in North and South Carolina. The bright patterns on the tubes attract insects the same way bright-colored flowers do.
The yellow pitcher plant has a flower that hangs over the tube to keep rain out. Yellow pitchers grow to three feet tall.
I spotted a visitor in the sunny garden this morning, a baby anole, from head to tail no longer than my thumb. Since anoles change color for camouflage like chameleons people often call them chameleons, but they’re not.
I assured him that he was quite welcome here since he dines on insects, and extolled the virtues of a mosquito course since we have a plethora of them that love to bite me. Snakes and birds find anoles tasty and their defense is to ditch their tails which continue to wiggle after detachment. The predator is left with the tail and the anole escapes.
On a recent drive to look for a campsite, we discovered the old Halfway Creek Methodist Church on one of the backroads in the Francis Marion National Forest near Shulerville, SC.
The original church was log, built in 1828 and serviced by a circuit-riding preacher who took care of seven or eight other congregations as well.
A school was located near the church and a little rural community flourished around it until the Civil War when it was abandoned for lack of members.
The church reopened in 1878 and went through several faith identities in the next 100 years, including Baptist, Presbyterian, and finally Pentecostal Holiness.
In 1941 the current building replaced the old and services continued into the 1970s.
All of the interior furnishings and the floor have fallen through to the ground below and someone has placed a fading bouquet of plastic flowers on the window sill.
A single jessamine vine leans against an exterior wall, a brave touch of cheerful yellow in the spring.
The Halfway Creek Church would have been the site of milestone events in the lives of its members over the years, their most important, life-altering occasions — the weddings and christenings, the baptisms and funerals.
All are long forgotten now. Like so many churches of the rural South, this one’s history isn’t important anymore, not even to the descendants of those who lived and died nearby. I could find almost no information about it whatsoever.
No one left to care for it, it slowly is returning to the Earth, like the bones in its graveyard nearby.
We love funky old restaurants and this one is just down the road from us, hunkered among the pines of the Francis Marion National Forest. It is a humble little cement block building on the highway, but you can’t miss it — it’s painted the brightest sunny yellow you ever saw with hand-carved sun rays on the old-fashioned double screen doors, usually open to catch a breeze.
The McClellanville Diner opens early for breakfast and the parking lot stays full until it closes right after lunch. It’s been pretty much the same for 17 years, offering Southern cooking to travelers, families after church, fishermen off the boats, and a few regulars who work on crossword puzzles, visit with each other at the big community table, and hardly miss a day.
The kitchen is tiny, the decor folksy/southern eclectic kitsch alongside framed ocean-themed art, perhaps by someone’s grandchild. The walls are faded green, the linoleum floors well-worn, the refrigerated showcase in service since the 1970s.
The help-yourself pop cooler might well have been around since the 1950s.
The printed menu is a well-worn page in a plastic sleeve but you won’t need it; the good stuff is handprinted on the chalkboard each day — locally-caught seafood and traditional Carolina dishes like shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, fried or baked chicken, country-fried steak, collard greens, butter beans, red rice, oysters, sausage gravy, mac & cheese.
I tell you, a bowl of their she-crab soup and a side of the best-anywhere melt-in-your-mouth collards is pure heaven.
If you still have room, there are usually a couple just-baked desserts available like coconut, lemon, or chocolate strawberry mousse cake or sweet potato pie if you get there early enough.
Really, who could resist this??
There is one thing that earned the diner a negative review on Yelp. That is the restroom, um, situation. The reviewer was obviously from Somewhere Else because this is not that uncommon here.
The rest rooms are entered from outside the building and it looks like they have upgraded the facilities recently maybe. Or they’re keeping some spares handy in case of emergency!
And here’s a little Southern Cookin’ music to brighten your day.
So much to do in the spring before it gets hot, and living seems to have taken precedence over blogging lately. Here’s a little catch-up.
We have had company, the garden is flourishing with tomato plants, herbs and kale, and I have begun a course of physical therapy which, with travel to and from, takes most of three mornings a week. Before that started we hurried to get in a couple more adventures.
Here is a glimpse of our backyard. It’s been a fabulous spring for flowers and three sides of our yard are completely lined with azaleas.
We have several colors, ranging from this intense purple to red to the most delicate pink.
But we haven’t only been enjoying the flowers at home. There are so many to see everywhere!
Much more dramatic than ours are the wild azaleas from a woodland hike on the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Unlike the Asian cultivars, the native shrubs’ flower cluster is huge, bigger than my two hands together. They grow in the understudy of the tall trees on scrawny bushes and are so delicate and dramatic when you happen upon one.
On any drive in the countryside right now, as soon as you get a few miles from the coast you see these seas of red,
... acres and acres of unplowed cotton fields covered with blankets of red sorrel. It’s a pretty sight but sorrel is a noxious weed that invades soil depleted of nitrogen by the heavy cotton crops.
Another dramatic native spring flower was blooming right behind our campsite one day, the red buckeye. Its nickname is the Firecracker Plant.
On another walk, I spotted this well-pecked woodpecker tree. As you can see, the holes go right down to the ground at the base, which confused me as to what woodpecker had been so busy here.
By the shape of the holes, I thought it should be this guy, a pileated woodpecker.
But pileated woodpeckers are 18 or 19 inches tall! How could he
make those holes all the way down to the base of the tree?
On our recent camping trip, we visited the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Eutaw Springs (September, 1781).
I don’t care to glorify war or to honor entities who cannot find a civilized way to settle conflict. I do have a heart for the young men (and more recently women) who out of honestly held beliefs or desperate situations are the ones to lay down their lives on the front lines of battles. Wars should be remembered for them, and for lessons in peace gleaned from wars’ folly.
I thought i would write a few lines about what happened that autumn day at Eutaw Springs, but it’s a litany of boring dates and names of leaders who dragged their troops into death, maiming, and heartbreak. Not really worth repeating. As a matter of fact, both sides — the British and the Americans — even claimed to have won this, the last major engagement in the war in the Carolinas.
British General Alexander Stewart's letter to his commander states,
“With particular satisfaction I have the honour to inform your lordship, that on the 8th instant I was attacked by the rebel General Greene, with all the force he could collect in this province and North Carolina, and after an obstinate engagement, which lasted near two hours, I totally defeated him, and took two six pounders."
American General Nathanael Greene's letter to his commander states,
“By far the most obstinate fight I ever saw. Victory was ours, and had it not been for one of those little incidents which frequently happen in the progress of war, we should have taken the whole British Army."
On this quiet, beautiful river bank, miles and miles from anywhere, four thousand men from two armies met in brutal battle. They blew each other apart from close range with muskets and canons for three hours and finished off the job with sabers and bayonets.
Heavy rain prevented continuation of the fighting, and having lost a third of his men, Stewart marched back to British-held Charleston.
In the end 500 Americans and 700 British lay dead in this bloody clearing, with many more wounded.
We stood at the foot of trees weighted down with purple wisteria, no sounds but the birds, no odor but the floral perfume, and tried to imagine the carnage that happened here.
We packed some food and left our campsite for a drive to the Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg for lunch. The azaleas and cherries were in full bloom and the weather spring-wonderful.
Where Union and Confederate soldiers met in combat in 1865, in 1921 azaleas were planted among the majestic old cypress trees.
I found this old vintage post card of almost the same scene I photographed, made shortly after the azaleas were planted. You can see how they have grown since 1921. They are now taller than me and form one continuous bush all around the park.
Part of the park remains a Tupelo and cypress wetlands accessible by boardwalk trails.
There are 175 acres total, with cherry trees, azaleas, dogwoods, native plant areas along the river, and a rose garden (that wasn’t in bloom yet).
Cherries, azaleas, and yellow jessamine, the South Carolina state flower
Irises, redbuds, and every shade of green one could imagine
The scent of cherry blossoms warmed by the sun followed us everywhere.