Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charleston - Day 3

[A friend told me once he believed the Camellia to be the most beautiful flower God created. I think he may be right.]

There is much to see and do in Charleston, or so I'm told. There are also more people, more cars and less parking places than Savannah. I have no sense of quaint or historic, though Charleston may have been that in its heyday. I'm guessing, it's always been a robust place of commerce - the Custom House sits near the river looking stately and authoritative. I wonder, was that the first thing the slaves saw as they were herded off the ships and into the market.

The market today is several blocks long. What I expected to be filled with Charlestonian arts and crafts was actually arrayed with an eclectic selection of goods from all over the world. Yes there were black ladies making and selling sea grass baskets. I asked one woman how many baskets she had made and she just laughed. "I never thought to count them," she said, "but I can tell you it's a lot." Her hands moved across the reeds as if reading braille. She didn't need to look at what she was doing, her hands knew. The baskets are really quite stunning. Alas, I could not afford even a small one. Though I may have to go back tomorrow and re-think that.

[ Squircles - kind of square and kind of round. ]

Besides the basket weavers, there were Filipina ladies selling embroidered place mats and smocked baby dresses; jewelry sellers offering just about any kind of gewgaws you could imagine; woodworkers; artists; photographers; and perhaps my favorite a man from Ghana selling Shea butter. I'm not sure if I was more impressed with the medicinal properties of the creamy butter, or the man's ability to entice everyone that walked by to buy some.

After a couple of hours in the market we headed in search of a place to eat. Not that we weren't surrounded by them, but oysters seemed to be the offering du jour. By driving we got somewhat of a feel for the old architecture, though I suspect we'd have gotten a better history lesson if we took the horse drawn carriage. The Episcopal Church I was looking for turned out to be several more blocks away from where we had lunch than what I had predicted. (Map reading and navigating has never been my strong suit.)

St. Phillips was the first church built in Charleston in 1683. The doors were locked, of course, which left only the cemetery to explore. I wasn't too sure this was what I wanted to do. I was afraid it would prove depressing. In fact, it was anything but. The cemetery was literally littered with markers of all shapes and sizes, mostly old - real old - though some surprisingly new. Sweetie rested on the church steps while I wondered in and out, around and through. Many names were unreadable, not that I'd recognize them anyway. Still, it was quite amazing to think of the people who lay beneath my feet had built this city so many hundreds of years ago. Every fifteen minutes the church bells would ring. The bongs sounded like the wind chime I was given after Dad died, only a lot bigger! I found the whole experience to be quite peaceful and pleasant. Who knew?

I'm not sure what is on the agenda for tomorrow. If it's not raining it might be a good day for that carriage ride, or maybe a trip to the barrier islands.

Ta Ta for Now,
Merry ME


Molly said...

i love the word gewgaw. i've not been to Charleston and would like to go. thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

May I recommend the restaurant " Queen Anne's revenge?"
It has wonderful food, and lots of historic nifty stuff about blackbeards ship. ( actual stuff!)
it just sounds like you are having a wonderful time!

Camille Olivia said...

SQUIRCLES! I just love that. (and, my dear Merry-iest one...I swiped the word AND the pic so I could share it with my readers too. I did, however, also link back to your blog. Please don't call the blog police and have me arrested! I just couldn't resist!)

Camille Olivia said...

P.S. Camellias were my mom's favorite. Which is one of the reasons I got the name 'Camille' and NOT 'Carmela'. Thank GOD!