Central South Carolina is the land of cotton fields, Spanish moss, and southern stateliness.
The Land of Cotton
I gasped as I spied my first cotton field. As you travel by at 55 MPH, you see just the tops of plants, so it looks all white — like a field of snow. Right along the road, the balls are distinguishable from the plant. I wanted so badly to stop, jump out, and take pictures, but it was a two-lane highway with no shoulders. Later, we came upon large circular bales at the edge of the fields, just like hay in Maine. I thought a truck drove through the fields with a picking machine, which blew the cotton onto the back of a truck.
The Land of Trees
Spanish moss hanging from trees is at least familiar. As
a child, I remember thinking it was the most beautiful sight. The moss hangs so gracefully as it blows in the breeze, and the trees look majestic and old. The other aspect of the land that is different is the canopy of trees that line the streets stretching across the road, so that the sun shines down through the branches. It’s like a welcoming archway into Charleston, South Carolina.
Riley’s been waiting for his first state with palm trees, and SC is it. It’s also the first state where we’ve seen Danger Alligators May Be Present signs.
The Land of Stately Homes
Once in Charleston, we head for Rainbow Row, thirteen pastel- colored Georgian row houses – the longest stretch in the U.S. This is situated in the historic district along with many other ultra stately, French, ornate, colorful two- and three- story homes. This city is breathtaking.
After the fourth or fifth time I pulled over the Jeep so I could take a picture of a wooden doorway, piazza, or iron framework, Riley said, “Mom, you’re going to fill your iPhone with shots of this city.”
“Yes, buddy. That’s the plan”
The Land of Singing Voices
We were walking down Queen St. at about 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I heard a choir singing. I headed toward the open church doors to peek inside. A man came out the door at about the same time. He invited me inside to look around. The choir was in the balcony above my head so you couldn’t see them, but you could hear their melodic voices bounce off the ceiling peeks.
The windows were old, thick, & filled with bubbles. The sun shone through lighting on the wooden pews. The walls were lined in ceramic tile painted with names of former church members – Martha & George Washington, The duPonts, and many other Huguenots. The walls were a soft pink inside and out. It was so beautiful that as I stepped inside my eyes filled, and I fought to keep tears from spilling down my cheeks.
The lovely man was a bit flummoxed and started rattling off historic facts about The French Huguenot Protestant Church. I so wanted to take photos of this lovely church but it felt wrong to do so in this sacred space. Zoe stepped up behind me, pulled my hand, and whispered in my ear, “Come on, Mom.” And it was off to the next sight.
The Land of Wedding Photo Shoots
Over the course of two days we saw three wedding shoots in the historic downtown area and Joe Riley Park. The park has a massive water fountain, a massive pier, and is engulfed by marsh grasses, the bay, and in the distance the shiny cables of the new bridge. A beautiful couple posed on a stone pillar standing above the water while the photographer shed his shoes and climbed into the fountain, placing his knee in the water to capture the bride and groom kissing as the water plumes sprayed in the foreground. Once the scene was finished, the groom jumped down, reached up for the bride, and threw her over his shoulder to carry her to dry ground. She threw her head up, long blonde hanging down, and let out a peal of laughter. The photographer snapped picture after picture. As they walked out of the park, the next bride stood to the side, holding her bouquet, waiting her turn.
The Land of Beauty
Charleston, SC is the stuff of glossy expensive magazines. It’s a world replete with Jaguars, G Wagons, and Lotuses, cobblestone roads, and Resident Permit Parking Only. The shops hold floor-to-ceiling watercolor and oil paintings that mimic the beauty of the city — sold as souvenirs to be hung in some other ritzy land.
The horse-drawn carriages are filled with older couples. They stop and the driver holds the reins of the horse while retelling the history of “this building here” and “that street over there.” The large draft horses shift legs, and snort, impatient to move again. Cars weave around the carriages; patrons hang off the side taking pictures of everything.
The homes are breathtaking. They are not large, but they are magnificent structures built with brick, offering beautiful wooden doors, decorations & landscaping, and copper finishes that have turned teal in the weather. It is hard to describe the beauty of Charleston.
The Land I Mourn
Driving away from Charleston was the first time I’ve been sad to leave a place. I just wanted more time to see a cotton field, sit among the trees, soak in the late fall bouquets, watch photo shoots, walk cobblestone streets, gaze at brick homes.
There is much ahead, so much to see and so much to be excited about, but oh, how this place resonated with me.
I shall return . . .
For more pictures & thoughts about Charleston, head to Instagram @mainefamilytravels and @ lifeasamainer.