Sunday, January 27, 2019

Winter Woods Geometry

  We have taken advantage of three sunny days (in a row!) to get out and enjoy nature minus the bugs and heat of the rest of the year, and minus the rain we have been inundated with since Christmas.

  We tend to work in the morning and then around lunchtime, throw some food in the cooler bag and ask each other, where do you want to have lunch?  Today we settled on Hampton Plantation, a state historic site, and a walk in the winter woods. 

 The camera eye loves the skeletal lines revealed in the winter landscape.  Woodland geometry becomes art with parallel lines of brown, bisected randomly with slim pine and holly branches, and a solitary piece of fence that surely once had a purpose.  Our hike takes us past the remains of the foundation of an old slave cabin, down along miles of overgrown rice fields, their dikes invisible in summer revealed now by the editing of winter.

 Cypress trees have seized an opportunity, taking root  where the golden rice once grew.  The one in the grouping of trees to the right, like no other, has developed with a saddle that split into two trunks.  

We’re in no hurry and meander, stopping frequently to raise our eyes up, up to the birds.  The Writer spots an eagle soaring overhead, I focus my glasses on LBJs (Little Brown Jobs), a flock of tiny feathered puffs, darting near us all along the trail.  They are warblers but the only ones I can identify are Yellow-Rumps (or Butter Butts, as we like to call them).  We sit down by the foundation of the slave cabin to watch a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker searching up, down, and around a tree for his buggy lunch.  


Soon it is time for our lunch — “eating out” without the guilt!  No added salt, sugar, or fat to worry about, no expensive food or tip to leave.  No reservations to call ahead for the best seats in the house, and Bob is welcome, too!  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Backroads Burger Find

  We always like to take the backroads when we travel because we stumble upon such interesting stuff.  On the way to Edisto State Park, in a little wide spot in the road called Hollywood, SC, we came upon this place.

  It was closed for the winter but I bet it’s a popular spot to eat in the summer (which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that it seems to be the only spot to eat for many miles around!).  

  The “smallest eatery in town” with “the biggest taste” serves up burgers and dogs with a side of humor (“Ketchup!  You’ll RELISH the flavor”) and a dollop of religion (“TASTE and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8).

Or you could  “Pop in” for the “freshest salad in town.”

The artwork is a treat, too, with an imaginative rock waterfall rising straight up from the ocean and the elegant white styrofoam container showing off the fresh salad. 

  You wouldn’t mind sharing the picnic table with a burger, hotdog, and fries, would you?  

  I think we might have to return next summer when the Burger Hut is open! 

Monday, January 21, 2019

The CCC, Segregation, and Edisto Island State Park

Edisto Island State Park is a little piece of heaven on the coast of South Carolina, undeveloped forever, and available for all to enjoy the beach life.  

It gets crowded in the summer, but on a beautiful 68 degree January day it was all ours. Well, we did have to share a few crumbs from our picnic with this guy — obviously an experienced beach bum and fearless beggar!  

We didn’t mind a bit!  

Edisto is one of the first state parks open in the state, one of 16 built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which gave jobs to 3 million Americans in public works projects during the Great Depression.  

The beautiful original bath house still stands behind the sand dunes, having survived some mighty hurricanes since it was built.  

As everywhere on the SC coast, sea turtles are a protected species. Especially vulnerable during the hatching season, nests are carefully protected by the Turtle Patrol which even has its own park vehicle!  

Today all are welcome to enjoy these public lands, but I was surprised to discover it wasn’t always that way.

From their conception until 1966 (1966!!) blacks were not allowed to use the parks in South Carolina.  In 1956 a lawsuit was filed demanding access for blacks.  When it became apparent that the state would lose the lawsuit, rather than complying they simply closed all the state parks completely to everyone!  
For 10 years!  

(A couple state parks opened inferior facilities and small “special areas” for blacks.  Edisto remained closed.)

It wasn’t until 1966 that all South Carolina state parks were reopened with equal access to all citizens.  

I am rather amazed at my Northerner ignorance about segregation.  It never occurred to me that Nature — the ocean, the woods, lakes, beaches, boat landings, paths — could be subject to segregation.  

Today, Martin Luther King Day, seems a good day to think about it.  

MLK at the Penn Center, St Helena Island near Beaufort, SC, where he stayed for 9 months  and worked on his famous I Have a Dream speech. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gray Days of Winter

Sunday was a gray winter day, damp from two days of cold rain. Happy to get out of the house, we set out for an early morning walk on the Palmetto Trail.

“Winter is the woods' grumpy editor, insisting trees drop all pretense, opening up forgotten vistas, demanding the winding road stay in sight a little longer. 

“Winter cuts all the showy metaphors and the sappy sentimentality of spring and summer, letting the stark landscape and the mustiness of fallen leaves speak for themselves. 

“Winter wants a spare style, browning everything ...

except a bright tangle of bittersweet, a crimson strand of Virginia creeper and the dark green of a lone pine deep deep in the trees.” — Tommy Hays

This tree intrigued me.  The trunk up grew at the edge of Awendaw Creek, then bent out and over the water, then back upward again. At the same time, its thick roots grew up the bank, above the ground rather than underground, developing bark in the process.

This portion of the trail ends in a Francis Marion National Forest campground.  We were surprised to be met with a closed gate and stop sign.

It says the campground is closed “due to the hurricane”.  This can’t be true!  It’s been months since hurricane Florence, the campground received no damage from the hurricane and has been in continuous use since until now.  

We suspect it is closed because of the government shutdown and no one available to keep up with trash pickup and toilet cleaning.

Why blame an old hurricane??? 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ta Da! My Book Is Published

I’m pretty excited!  Soldier Boy: the World War II Letters of Donald G. Reimer, is ready to read.

Here’s an excerpt from the cover:

When l found a box of letters in my grandparents’ attic, I had very little knowledge of the part my father played in World War II.  The letters, nearly a thousand written between him and his parents and sister back home on the farm in northern Illinois, juxtapose the difficulties of farming in war time with those of a young man far away from home for the first time, fighting in a bloody war.
  “Donald Reimer enlisted in the U.S. Army in January, 1943, just ahead of the draft board, when the country was reeling from the tragedy at Pearl Harbor. Still a teenager, he was willing to do his part.  After months of brutal training for desert fighting, he found himself fighting instead with the 485th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion on the jungle islands of Leyte and Okinawa in the Pacific.

  “The letters tell a story of a young, naive boy as he grew into a soldier and a man.”

 I was able to include quite a few photographs.  My dad had a camera and sporadically, film for it, which he would mail home to my grandparents for developing.  Amazingly, the photos were preserved in quite good shape (much better than my slides from the ‘70s and ‘80s).  

If you are interested in reading Soldier Boy as an ebook, it’s available on Amazon.  Follow this link:

For a paperback copy, email me at  The paperback price is $13.95 + $3 postage (U.S. only, “media mail” takes about 5 working days).  

1st copies, ready to mail out

Friday, January 4, 2019

The First Week of the Year

  I always feel philosophical around the time of year when the numbers turn.  The darkness of winter, the short days and long nights, are made for reading, reflecting, remembering, making decisions and plans.  It seems momentous, this whole new year, three million and some seconds, waiting to be lived, and as future years dwindle, it feels ever more important to use them carefully and well.
This is where we started 2019 on January 1st, walking our favorite stretch of beach in the early-morning fog.  The fog was not all-encompassing; there were clear places and murky places and we moved easily between.  It felt like a metaphor for the year ahead: the foggy places the unknowns and tough decisions, the clear places the easy paths and choices, we humans moving through life, negotiating both.  

Decisions we are contemplating are big and small.  For example:  
  • New doctors. Just before Christmas we learned that our primary care doctor had suddenly left the practice where we are patients.  We haven’t been satisfied with the clinic itself so it seems a good time to do some research and make a change, probably having to drive all the way to Charleston to get into a different system of clinics and necessitating changes in the several specialists we see.  
  • A car.  We have 173,000+ miles on our car, a small Toyota SUV (without a single repair besides routine maintenance!).  This year will undoubtedly present the necessity of purchasing another.  
  • A home-away-from-home, one with wheels.  We have been contemplating this for months already.  It's time to get serious and make a purchase!
  • Travel.  Depending on the above two decisions: where we want to visit in the next 12 months.  So many choices!  
  • A word. One to focus my thoughts and guide my life during the year ahead.  Some from past years include: Light, Simplicity, Adventure, Move, Gratitude.  I have some in mind but haven’t chosen The One yet.
  • A Big Project. My book finished, I’m at loose ends.  I need a new purpose.  One can only knit so many hats (12, for charity, so far)! 
Well, those are a few things I’m thinking about these rainy, foggy January days.  What about you?