Monthly Archives: December 2017

Water Features, Holiday Edition

Since my sister, brother-in-law and mostly-immobile 91-year old mother live in Hilton Head, South Carolina, we are the ones who have made the trek southward for the holidays in the past five, six, seven (who’s keeping track?) years.  This year, my husband and I took a circuitous route through Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina and Charleston, SC on our way to our Low Country Christmas.  We arrived a week early to help my mother with her preparations – the tree, the gift shopping, the laying-in of a huge supply of foodstuffs, the baking and of course the annual Cookie Decorating Extravaganza.

To keep sanity around all this hyperactive holiday hubbub, I seek the water.  Not a problem down there – it’s water, water everywhere.  The first documented water feature of the trip was in Charleston. We strolled with our friends Bob and Carolyn along the waterfront and visited the Pineapple Fountain, an impressive mass of stone in the shape of the traditional Southern hospitality symbol.

After arriving at Hilton Head, I sought out early morning or late afternoon water features to bookend the busy days.  Palmetto Dunes, the “plantation” in which my relatives reside abounds in water features (not a real plantation, but that’s what they call multi-use developments there – it sounds so much more Southern and gentile, no?).  Lagoons, canals, creeks, and other waterways criss-cross the resident clusters, golf courses and clubhouses.  One evening, my daughter snapped some photos of a couple of local birds, a cormorant and a blue heron, perching stealthily in the trees at sunset along one of these waterways not far from my mother’s condo.

Palmetto Dunes also boasts its own beachfront, a fine lengthy stretch of uninterrupted sand which is a perfect place to watch the sun rise.  If you can get yourself out of bed early enough, which I finally did the very last day we were there, the day after Christmas.  After the bustle and over-stimulation of Christmas, a tranquil moment on the beach was the best present of all.

Goodbye, ocean, you king of all water features.  I know that, despite everything, you will always be there for me as a touchstone, whether in the SC low country or elsewhere around the world.

Happy 2018.  Enjoy the water features in your own lives in the new year.

The Critters of Chestertown

Chestertown is a pleasant burg on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where we traveled for a day trip on Thanksgiving weekend.  It was “small business Saturday” so poking around in some of the little shops in town seemed the thing to do.  Unless you are an extremely pokey shopper, that can be achieved in a couple of hours, max.

If you stop at the Visitor’s Center on the way in to town, they will give you a map of town so that you can see just how small it is, as well as a walking tour brochure that guides you around the stately 18th century houses paralleling the river.  (Federal, Georgian, with or without Flemish bond bricks, take your pick.)  A walk down to the pier to view the schooner Sultana is also a must – tall ships are always intriguing.  There are several nice looking restaurants where one might get some local seafood, but we held out until Kent Narrows on our way home and indulged in some crab cakes, oysters, and scallops at the iconic Harris’s Crab House.

As we toured the town, I started noticing some interesting critter depictions.  First, some very boldly colored and rather saucy lions in a fountain in the park downtown. Second, a giant crab claw emerging from the water near the pier (see landing image, above). Third, the eagle carving on the schooner.  Fourth, a metal sculpture of honeybees outside a modest but well groomed house.  If you get to Chestertown for a visit, you can use these as a sort of critter scavenger hunt on a leisurely walk around town.  Enjoy!