The Country Life

My trip culminated with a peaceful visit with Karen and Rich in the Virginia countryside. It was long overdue, we were all living in Arizona last time we saw each other. That was over four years ago for me!

My dear friends are helping their daughter Kim turn this gorgeous valley into a “woodland lodging” retreat. She certainly picked a wonderful location, the property is teeming with wildlife yet it is less than an hour from the busy airport in Richmond.

As usual when we get together, there was a lot of laughter and delicious food. It will not be as long between visits next time!

Greensboro

My next stop was a double bonus, not only did I get to spend time with an old friend but it was an excellent reason to visit Greensboro, North Carolina. I adore exploring new places and Greensboro did not disappoint.

After a delightful dinner, Hector and I strolled around historic downtown. It was a vibrant scene for a week night; we were serenaded by a band playing in the park while a steady stream of pedestrians frequented local businesses in the carefully restored, old buildings.

Most notable was the F.W. Woolworth department store which now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. On February 1, 1960 four freshmen from the nearby university walked inside and sat down at the lunch counter.

They were refused service by a white waitress who said, “We don’t serve Negroes here.” The young men didn’t budge until closing time. They returned the next day with a larger group.

The nonviolent group grew in size and quickly gained national attention. To further their impact, they began boycotting segregated businesses. On March 16th President Eisenhower expressed his sympathy with their efforts to “enjoy the rights of equality that they are guaranteed by the Constitution.”

By late July, the segregated businesses in Greensboro were suffering huge losses. In a major victory, the Woolworth counter served its first black customers on the 25th of that month. As they say, money talks.

Around the corner from Woolworths we espied a tall statue. Ever curious we walked over and discovered General Nathaneal Greene (the city’s namesake). I first met the Fighting Quaker during my Rhode Island trip back in 2007.

As the leader of the southern theater during the Revolutionary War, Greene was considered by General George Washington to be his most talented officer. Pretty impressive for a man who had been previously overlooked for service due to a limp sustained during childhood!

We wrapped up the evening with a tasty IPA from a local brewery. Overall, a charming introduction to a historic city!

Surprising Santee

I recently took a quick road trip to visit friends in North Carolina and Virgina. I broke the first leg of the 13 hour drive roughly in half with an overnight stop in Santee, South Carolina.

I spent the following morning exploring Santee National Wildlife Refuge located on the north bank of Lake Marion. After the crowded beaches of sunny Florida, having the entire place to myself was incredibly pleasant.

Not only does the refuge preserve acreage for wildlife but, I was surprised to learn, it also protects two important historic sites. The Santee Indian Mound remains the largest ceremonial and burial site yet discovered in the region.

Something that tall on the coastal plain obviously afforded a good viewpoint, a fact the British Army did not overlook. In 1780 they established Fort Watson atop the mound in an effort to control South Carolina.

Continental Army troops attacked the fort on April 5, 1781 but were repulsed by the well-positioned British cannons and sharpshooters. You could say the Brits had the upper hand. But never, ever doubt American ingenuity.

Determined to overtake the fort, Major Hezikiah Maham designed a thirty-foot tall log tower. The structure was built nearby, placed on wheels, and moved into firing range of the fort during the night of April 22nd.

With their height advantage gone, the British could no longer protect the sides of the mound and they surrendered by the end of April 23rd. The success of the tower was replicated several other times by the Continental Army and is part of the reason we don’t speak the Queen’s English in this country.

Call Me Trash Panda…

Households around here have the custom of placing unwanted items by the curb. If they aren’t taken by passersby then they are removed by the garbage company.

My return trip from my sunset beach walks takes me through a lovely neighborhood full of impressive houses. Just this past week I came across these curbside treasures: a small, hand-painted chest with brass handles and a faux, five-foot-tall fiddle leaf fig (say that three times fast).

Just call me a trash panda!

Photo by Steve H, Washington, DC 2007

It’s That Time of Year

Not My Photo – CTTO

After a few dry months, our rainy season started a couple weeks ago. Which means everything is greening up nicely (and that I have to mow, sigh).

As a former desert rat, I appreciate a good thunderstorm and the precipitation it brings. However, I think a more appropriate name for this time of year would be Mosquito Season. Tried to explore a new nature preserve the other morning but was instantly swarmed by the hungry girls.

A can of bug spray now resides in the back of my car, joining the ever-present sunscreen, hat, and extra pair of flip flops (never know when you’re gonna have a blowout).

Tiny Telson

Juvenile Horseshoe Crab, Fort De Soto Park, Florida June 2021

While I’ve encountered the remains and molts of adult Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs before this was my first meeting with the young of the species. It was so perfectly camouflaged that I only noticed it when it bulldozed through the sand in an effort to avoid getting stepped on.

I couldn’t resist spending a few minutes with this little one before releasing it on its merry way. While formidable in appearance even at this age, the tail (or telson), is mainly used for steering.