Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the Garden of Remembrance…

The last day we were in Charleston, South Carolina, Greg and I took a self-guided walking tour called, “Gardens, gates and graveyards” or something like that.  It was an interesting ramble through old church yards and cemeteries.  But when we got to the gate that led us onto the Unitarian Universalist church grounds, I was awestruck.  The gate opened onto a narrow path that was well-marked but gave the impression of being over-grown.  It felt like we were entering a secret garden.  The path went along and eventually opened onto the most wonderful graveyard I have ever seen in my life.
All the well-tailored cemeteries we had seen that day fell away when we entered this sacred space.  The green growth seemed out of control but none of it hampered our ability to walk freely on the pathways.  We wandered around in awe.  If I were planning to be buried, I would want to spend my eternity in a place just like this, surrounded by rambunctious nature barely able to be held back, overhung by untrimmed trees draped in Spanish Moss.  And wow, what it must look like in the spring!

I don’t think it is just because I am a Unitarian that I loved this place, though it was someplace that felt comfortable to my curious mind and my untamed soul.  It was just a beautiful, refreshing and surprising place.  But of course, I am a Unitarian in the first place, because in my Unitarian church, my curious mind and my untamed soul are not only accepted but welcomed and cherished.

Welcome to the Garden of Remembrance. 
We celebrate our companions along the way. 
As members and friends of the Unitarian Church in Charleston, we commit ourselves to: 
Principled actions that honor the generations that have brought us here;
Responsibility nurturing our resources, one another, and our greater community;
Making possible the spiritual journeys of our church family and generations to come. 
Our diversity enhances us, our love guides us, and our convictions strengthen us.

See you in a few days.  We’re off wandering again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catch the moments as they fly…

I got up a little early today to take some butter out of the fridge.  It has to soften so that I can make the shortbread cookies I am taking to the Burns Supper Greg and I are attending tonight.  In case you aren’t familiar with the tradition, this time of year Burns Suppers are held to honor Robert Burns, Scottish bard.  These can be raucous affairs with their haggis, whisky and poetry.  We are lucky that some friends of ours from our church sponsor the one we are attending tonight.  Thanks, Jodi and David!

Anyway, it made me start thinking about Scotland, a land that I am completely and utterly in love with since we visited in 2010.  We visited the Highlands, the Isles of Skye and Mull, and the Speyside area, which is where most of that liquid heaven we Americans call Scotch is made.  It is the best trip I have ever taken in my life bar none.  And I can still close my eyes and hold pictures in my head of the Scotland we saw during that two weeks.  What a beautiful place!  I would go back in a heartbeat.

So I will leave you today with a few pictures from that trip and my favorite lines from Robbie Burns.
  And tonight I will tip a cup of kindness to you all for auld lang syne!

“Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.”

Sunset colors an old boat in Oban Harbor.

On the Isle of Skye.

Part of the Tomnaverie Stone Circle, a mystical place.

The Mash Tun in Aberlour, Scotland.  A restaurant with rooms.

The Water of Life.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Charleston Fences…

 I was pretty darned impressed with the iron work we saw on our recent trip to Charleston, South Carolina.  It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen in my life.  But then, I’ve never been to New Orleans where, in my imagination at least, the wrought iron is second to none.  Still whether or not that is true, if I lived in Charleston, I would never be at a loss for fences for Fence Friday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Camellias blooming...

There wasn’t an explosion of flowers.  You kind of had to look for the flowers on the bushes, but the camellias were there.  How refreshing it is for a northerner to see flowers actually growing outside in the middle of January!  There had obviously been a frost because some of the camellias were completely brown and others had a tinge of brown on their extremities.  But unlike a lot of flowers that I am familiar with, the frosted camellias remained intact and just looked like they were a brown hybrid of the pink or red flower.  They are beautiful.

Now back home and looking out my window, I see the brown of old oak leaves and our monster pines in the background…a winter landscape.  But in my mind, I can see the camellias blooming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A is for Angel Oak…

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber.  The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky.
  ~Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when I first saw this magnificent tree.  At first, I wanted to just stand and stare at it.  Then I got an indescribable urge to touch it and feel the life within it.  It is truly a force of nature, the Angel Oak.  This gorgeous old live oak tree is purportedly the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River.  Its branches stretch to a diameter of 160 feet.  The circumference of its trunk is almost 25 feet and it covers 17,100 square feet of ground.  Simply magnificent!

It is hard to believe that over the years, man has not found a reason to get rid of this old tree.  The fact that is it is still around and lovingly tended gives me hope.  “Recorded history traces the ownership of the live oak and surrounding land back to the year 1717 when Abraham Waight received it as part of a small land grant.  The tree stayed in the Waight family for four generations and was part of a Marriage Settlement to Justus Angel and Martha Waight Tucker Angel.”  It is now in a public park.

I have to thank my cousin-in-law, Joyce P., for nudging us to drive out to look at this wonderful tree.  Thanks, Joyce!  It was well worth it. 

So I managed to mangle the alphabet putting the “B” before the “A” but I don’t think anyone really cares.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The birds...

I have been struggling with how to organize the hundreds of photos I took on our recent trip to South Carolina and Georgia.  While I’m still not sure I have a handle on it, I think I will kind of start in alphabetical order.  That means, I am going to post a few bird pics today. 

We saw all these birds in and around Charleston, SC.  None of these birds is particularly exotic, but they all were more than happy to pose for me, so I was more than glad to capture them in my camera. 
If you’re ever in Charleston and if you like birds, I would recommend a visit to Magnolia Cemetery where there are lots of water birds and to Folly Beach where the pigeons and grackles line up just waiting for you to take their picture.

A Brown Grackle gets away with something.

Blue Heron...mallard in the background.

Confirmed:  A Blue Heron

An Egret admires his good looks.

Not sure about these geese either.
Who says pigeons aren't good looking?

The Grackle

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday...

Inspired by my fellow bloggers today, I decided to do Scavenger Hunt Sunday.  The prompts are sunset, black and white, a day in the life, four and colorful.  Here’s what I came up with…

We are surrounded by hills and trees.  Getting a good sunset picture is a real challenge around here.  One place where it’s a pretty sure thing is on Quaboag Pond in Brookfield, Massachusetts.  They might not as spectacular as a tropical sunset, but I like them anyhow.

We came across these beautiful black and white dogs on our trip to Scotland a couple years ago.  

That’s me and my camera…a day in the life.  Well, pretty much every day in my life.

Four on the shore…


I do not deny my lameness...Now if I could figure out how to add the widget, I'd be all set.

Thanks, Debbie.  I often have to be told multiple times!

Friday, January 20, 2012

City Fences…

Last week while we were traveling through New York City, I was fairly amazed at all the fences I saw.  Fences on bridges, streets and buildings.  Fences within fences.  Fences on top of fences.

It seems to me that there is a world of difference between city fences and country fences.  Country fences are there to keep things in, while city fences primarily keep things out, except when they are there to protect us from ourselves.

New York City fences for Fence Friday…

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On the road...

We found ourselves on the road last week.
Over the George Washington Bridge and through New York City.

Through Baltimore and the absolutely horrible traffic around Washington D.C.

Past South of the Border.

And into Charleston, South Carolina, where the camellias are blooming.

Greetings from Folly Beach!  We had a great time but it’s good to be home.