An Endless Love Affair

 

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Looking from Rockville over to Seabrook

 

You would think after thirty-one years here in the South Carolina Lowcountry I would take foregranted my surroundings. When you tend to live somewhere it is typical to ignore the area offerings such as museums unless you have company. I see vistas of marsh, river, and ocean on a daily basis and I adore those views, they instantly calm me and make me thankful for getting to live in this beautiful place.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to ride with friends out to a house in Rockville, which is still a pristine village much like it was back in the 1800’s when this particular house was built. I could easily imagine a life here away from traffic and our crazy suburban sprawl. If only I was retired and didn’t have to think about the practical things such as commuting to work!

The house built in 1829 was loaded with character and a gem by itself, but it was the water views that took my breath away. I never tire of looking across the water and marsh. I often wonder if I had this view from my back porch, would I be too distracted to write or would I just find my creative well constantly replenished?

I’m not sure but I would be more than willing to find out. I think I might have to write a book where a lucky character will get to live in this charming house with this magical view and I can live vicariously through them.

I truly hope that when I’m one-hundred and eight (the age I am planning on living to) my love affair with the South Carolina Lowcountry will still burn with the same intensity it does today. Considering that fire has been steady for thirty-one years I can’t imagine it will ever burn out.

Lessons From the Tide

 

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Low tide

 

I was driving down Longpoint Road today which crosses the marsh in several spots. It was high tide and the water encroached on the road causing the cars to spray water up onto each other and it got me thinking how the ebb and flow of the tide is much like the ebb and flow of time, history, and our personal lives.

When the tide is high we float and flow, think the roaring 20’s, record stock markets and reaching pinnacles in our careers. Those moments are great but hold on to your hat, the tide will turn and ebb, taking you down to the mud and reveal what lies beneath, think The Depression, the recession and days where nothing seems to go right.

While we may crave the high tide moments, I think we grow more from the low tide moments. When we are down to the mud, we can see what’s buried there with us. We see what needs to be fixed or addressed, but we also find nuggets of wisdom and treasures to carry with us as we rise again, think oysters and artifacts.

The biggest takeaway for me from this musing on the tide was it will always turn around. Enjoy the high points while they last, but don’t expect life to stay there. Learn all you can during the low points and know that if you hang on things will head back up.

I love this South Carolina Lowcountry life, I find inspiration every day from this beautiful place. At the moment I think I’m somewhere between low and high tide, I have learned I can’t turn it until it’s good and ready, but I can roll along with it and make the best of whatever stage it has me in.

A Glass Ceiling Not To Break

 

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The glass ceiling in my parent’s conservatory

This is not a politcal piece or a feminist piece, so if that is what you are expecting from the title you might be disappointed. This is about the magic of a glass ceiling. A canopy with a view.

I’m currently at my parent’s house, a mostly annual summer visit. I enjoy spending time with them and in the beautiful part of Virginia in which they reside. It is a respite from the daily grind and the dogs and. I love the hilly two-mile route we take for our morning walks.

I especially enjoy the glass room on the back of the house that my parent’s refer to as the conservatory. The ceiling and the walls on three sides are glass. Within those three glass walls are many windows that can open and the space also has a heating and cooling unit, so it truly can be used year-round.

The light in the conservatory is bright but filtered by a great canopy of trees that hang overhead. I love to lay on the sofa out there and strare up between the branches to catch sight of the blue and the clouds floating by. If this were my house I would be tempted to make this my writing studio.

The room feels airy and tree-house like. The light changes as the day passes and you feel connected to the nature that surrounds the space. Squirrels sometimes drop nuts on the roof and that an be a little unsettling, but I love watching the birds, especially the cardinals that flit among the branches and the bird feeder.

This is a room that calms and soothes. It is also a great place to take a nap. I’d like to say I have done some incredible writing in this space, but I have to admit I like to just be in there and daydream or read. Perhaps if I got to enjoy it more than a week each year, I might be able to get down to business in there.

We all need a space in our homes that is a respite from the world. A place to recharge and spark our creativity. At home I would say my room I call the library (because it has tall bookcases full of books and two leather chairs) is that space. Although I find the beach and the waterways through the lowcountry to be powerful places to rejuvenate and inspire.

Here under this canopy of glass I can’t help but feel all is right with the world.

This is one glass ceiling I hope will never be shattered.

 

 

Time To Get Down and Dirty

 

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This is what happens when you go to the garden center on a beautiful spring day.

I went in for a few ivy plants . . . as you can see I came away with much more. That is the risk you take when you visit the garden center on a beautiful spring day. Between the allure of the plants I also had time, it is Spring Break this week and day one was almost perfect.

I say almost because I started the day with a mammogram, but then I treated myself to a latte and then went to get my hair cut. On the way home I decided to pick up the ivy so I could replant the pots by my front door. Once there I had planned out my raised beds and my patio pots. So a car load later I made my way home.

I am on a deadline to finish book three and I diligently sat down and spilled about twelve-hundred words from my soul, before taking a gardening break. After an hour of mowing and playing in the dirt, I returned to write another thousand words before taking a pre-arranged conference call about an upcoming author’s panel I’m participating, in Greenville, South Carolina in May. Then I went back to the chapter and around a thousand words later, I was satisfied with Lizzie’s progress on her journey and I was drained of my creative juices. Another hour and a half in the garden and I feel charged again.

Charged and filthy dirty.  The only thing that could make this day better is if someone of the handsome and kind variety was whipping up dinner in the kitchen.  I love days like these when the ordinary things are enjoyed and savored. This is how I imagine the days will be when I move from teacher and writer to full-time writer.

There is something in the ancient part of my genes that responds to the garden. I don’t think my ancestors were city dwellers. I still yearn to be a genteel gardener whose gloves never get dirt on the inside and manages to still look presentable at the end of a session amongst the flowers. I blame Hollywood for this unattainable ideal. I’m happy to settle for dirt streaked limbs and face with my hair plastered against my head.

Gardening is life affirming. It stimulates the senses and inspires the artist within. I can hardly wait until I get to do it again tomorrow.

 

Cone of Uncertainty

 

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The hurricane’s cone of uncertainty

I am a veteran of hurricanes at this point in my life here in South Carolina, my first experience with Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. Each time we are threatened what causes me the most anxiety is the cone of uncertainty. I am by nature a long range planner. I like to know what is going to happen well in advance and I like to believe I have a modicum of control over events.

You can stop  laughing. I have learned that control of this life is an illusion or delusion depending on how cynical you are. Surprisingly, I truly began to understand that after teaching first graders for years, how we are flying around space on a rock as we travel around a burning ball of gasses.

I still like to plan, I begrudgingly admit those plans need to be flexible. As I have matured, I even handle the changes with a much better attitude than in my youth. Still, I  find a rise in my anxiety level as I adjust and adapt.

Even my writing career began because I was anxious about what I would do when my teaching career wrapped up in a decade. Now Four and a half years from winding down the teaching, I am growing more comfortable with the  transition.

The truth of the matter is we live in a cone of uncertainty all the time. We can plan a path, but at any time, it truly could veer to the left or the right, perhaps it could even u-turn. Whatever the course, if we have what truly matters as our resources: our integrity, our loved ones, our faith and our intelligence, then no matter what happens we will be just fine.

 

Oh, deer. . .

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Me, in the 1970’s in deep conversation with a deer

 

For as long as I can remember I have always loved deer. I am sure Bambi cemented the idea that they are noble and intelligent creatures in my mind. I have also had an affinity for all of God’s creatures, the exception, reptiles. (Sorry, but I am fearful and just can’t find them cuddly, though I do like the little lizards and frogs and toads from a distance) from an early age.

So it is understandable that I still get excited when creatures like deer, birds and butterflies come to visit my garden. In fact my plant selection in the back, in part, has been to support the bees and the butterflies.  My backyard is fenced in, but I back onto woods, so I purposefully had the fence along the back low, to integrated the woods into my view. The deer love this. For them it is easy in and easy out.

I have had a regular doe for the past few years as a visitor.  I am not sure she is the same doe each time, but I like to think so.  I named her Genevieve and I fancy she represents the spirit of my Grandma Sawyer, who also liked to spy the deer from her windows. My two golden retrievers love her too. They never bark, but sit enraptured at the back door, noses pressed against the glass and tails wagging.  They would love to frolic with her, but she is not as keen on the idea.

In fact some mornings, as I am up before the crack of dawn, she is grazing and I have to put up the window and talk to her.  I say things like, “Good morning Genevieve, I need to let the dogs out. Can you come back later?”  She always pauses, calmly looking at me while I speak. Then she nods her head and with ease, walks over to the back fence and hops over.  The dogs of course race off to the fence hoping to glimpse her. This scenario has played out many times, so I don’t think it is a fanciful coincidence.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the human part of the world, we forget we share this planet with many other creatures. It is a humbling reminder to pause and appreciate the great web of life and ponder the fact we are just one part of it.  One of my favorite hymn’s has that line “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful, the  Lord God made them all.” ( Cecil Frances Alexander).

So I urge you to appreciate all of the creatures that cross you path, honor and respect them as a fellow creature. There may be a bit of a Dr. Doolittle in you too.