Happy Birthday to Mary Oliver. Sleeping in the Forest.

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better.

-Mary Oliver

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The Muddy Origins of Dock Street

Charlotte Hutson Wrenn:

Charleston Historian Nic Butler on Dick Street Theatre’s historic origins. Thank you Nic!

Originally posted on Charleston Time Machine:

It’s Spoleto season in Charleston, and each day of the festival the Dock Street Theatre is crammed to the rafters with amateurs of chamber music and opera.  This “historic” venue opened in November 1937 on the site of the site of a much smaller 1736 theater that was briefly known by the same name.  Visitors will be excused for expressing some confusion when they are directed to find the Dock Street Theatre at the southwest corner of Church and Queen Streets.  The inevitable question, “What happened to Dock Street?” is routinely met with the curt answer, “the watery street was filled and renamed Queen Street a long time ago.”  The details are obscure, and you won’t find very much at all about this topic in any book about the history of Charleston.  Behind this seemingly arcane matter, however, is a much larger and much more interesting story that tells us much about the early development of…

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Benne Seeds in the Lowcountry

Charlotte Hutson Wrenn:

It is my treat to pass on the amazing Charleston historian Nic Butler’s blog tonight:

Originally posted on Charleston Time Machine:

The benne (or sesame) seed has long been a staple in the traditional foodways of the South Carolina lowcountry. Most people here, especially tourists, first encounter this delicious seed in the benne wafer—sweet, crunchy, bite-sized discs that one finds everywhere in and around Charleston. In recent years, however, historically-minded chefs have been using benne in a wide variety of dishes, from pastries to main courses, in the effort to restore the tiny seed to its former place as a staple of lowcountry cuisine.

With this renewed interest in benne, I’ve heard a number of statements about its history in our community, some of which left me scratching my head. I’m not a culinary historian, but I do have a passion for tracking down documentary evidence that sheds light on the myths and realities of Charleston history. After a bit of archival digging, I can report that while there are still many unknown chapters in the story of benne in the…

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Posted in Charleston South Carolina, Food, science, South Carolina History

Nat Fuller, Charleston’s first top chef

Charleston's Renaissance Gallery, formerly Nat Turner's kitchen

Charleston’s Renaissance Gallery, formerly Nat Turner’s kitchen

Tonight is the celebratory feast! This is from David Shields, food scholar and historian. Thank you David! “150 years ago Nat Fuller, Charleston’s great chef, held a banquet to mark the end of the Civil War and the beginning of peace. He invited his longstanding white clients, some members of the provisional government, and friends from the city’s African American elite to sit as guests at his table and to learn how to interact respectfully with one another. It was a time of privation–rice rations were dispensed daily by the Union Army agents to Charleston’s 15,000 residents. Yet Fuller’s many contacts in the world of food, including old friends from Washington Market in NYC, supplied him with a bounty of fine ingredients. About 80 people ate at the original. Tonight a similar number will commemorate that dinner in Charleston and Columbia at The Bachelor’s Retreat, in Charleston to remind celebrants of Fuller’s self-possession, his generosity, and his love of the arts of peace.” Read more from the Post and Courier here. And the beautiful online resource created for Nat Fuller here, by the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative, an amazing site. WOW.

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Posted in Charleston South Carolina, Food, Gullah, South Carolina History

Brick House Ruins, Edisto Island, South Carolina

This grand estate on Russell Creek has been the private land of the Jenkins family since 1798. The house, built around 1725, burned in 1929. Here she is in all her beauty.

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Pearls of Great Price

Charlotte Hutson Wrenn:

A reader recently wrote to me asking about early native Americans in the South, and another friend found this pearl of a post while researching Edisto Island’s unique hog wrangler, Scott Danzler. It is worth re-posting I think.

Originally posted on Charleston Through an Artist's eye:

“But the pearls were accidents, and the finding of one was luck, a little pat on the back by God or the gods both.”
– John Steinbeck, The Pearl

Vermeer 1665 Yesterday I wrote of swine, er, ‘fine swine’, those heirloom hogs that are being served up in fine restaurants in town and carved into art by our local “rock star butchers” who are relearning the lost art of making charcuterie. It seems only fitting to follow up with a piece about Pearls. Having grown up in the very religious South it is hard for me even to say the word, “Swine”, without hearing that Bible verse about throwing pearls, “Do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Ironically, I was just this week standing in the middle of a herd of Edisto Island Swine (Yorkshire White variety)…

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Posted in Arts & Culture, Native American, South Carolina History, spirituality, travel

Dr. Henry Woodward, South Carolina colonist, English Explorer

Dear Readers! Today is January 18, 2015 and this is an older unfinished post about the very cool explorer Henry Woodward, credited with bringing rice into the South Carolina colony for one thing, so I think for now I am just going to post it. So, as one wise person told me, “take what you like and leave the rest”. I will finish researching this and repost it soon!
Cheers and Happy New Year!

“The man that most students of South Carolina Indians would most like to interview would probably be Dr. Henry Woodward, and Englishman who lived in the area beginning as early as 1666. He was left by the Robert Sandford Expedition that year in exchange for an Indian called “Shadoo” as a sort of early cultural exchange program. He was not left against his will, but remained voluntarily. He returned to England in 1682 and was something of a celebrity.” – from Chapman J. Milling, Red Carolinians, p 55

Pg 104 Narratives of Early Carolina – Salley – pg 104
Woodward remains one of the most enigmatic English explorers of the period, intimately tied to the history of the Carolana settlement and its challenge to Spanish Florida. He was among the original English settlers and it was his first priority to learn about the country and its natives, including their languages. He entered the unexplored interior, traveling beyond the Chattahoochee River. In the 1660s, he appears to have been the first Englishman to trod the soil of what is today the central Florida Panhandle. Upon his return to the Atlantic coast, he encountered the Spaniards at their old settlement of Santa Elena, near what soon became the 1670 demarcation line between Spanish Florida and English Carolana. There, apparently, he was captured and carried to San Agustin. The governor of that city, Don Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega, was surprised to receive a letter from Woodward in Latin, requesting baptism into the Catholic Church. Governor de la Guerra treated him more as a guest than as a prisoner. The learned doctor lived with the parish priest, Father Francisco de Sotolongo, a graduate of the University of Mexico, during the period of catechism. While in residence, Woodward noted a great deal about the Spanish status in Florida. Some historians believe that he might have allowed himself to be captured in order to spy out the Spaniard’s strength. After the sack of 1668, Woodward sailed from San Agustin with Searle’s buccaneers.

I leaveing an English man in their roome for the mutuall learning their language, and to that purpose one of my Company Mr. Henry Woodward, a Chirurgeon, had before I settout assured mee his resoluc +¯on to stay with the Indians if Ishould thinke convenient,1 wherefore I resolved to stay till 
the morning to see if the Indians would remaine constant in
this Intenc +¯on, according to which I purposed to treate fur­
ther with them on the morrowe, therefore I went a shoare
to their Towne, tooke Woodward and the Indian with mee
and in presence of all the Inhabitants of the place and of
the fellows relac +¯ons asked if they approved of his goeing along
with mee. They all with one voyce consented. After some
pause I called the Cassique and another old man (his second
in authority) and their wives, and in sight and heareing of
the whole Towne delivered Woodward into their charge, tell­
ing them that when I retorned I would require him att their
hands. They received him with such high testimonyes of
Joy and thankfullnes as hughely confirmed to mee their great
desire of our friendshipp and society. The Cassique placed 
Woodward by him uppon the Throne, and after lead him forth
and shewed him a large feild of Maiz which hee told him
should bee his, then hee brought him the Sister of the Indian
that I had with mee telling him that shee should tend him and
dresse his victualls and be careful of him that soe her Brother
might be the better used amongst us. I stayed a while being
wounderous civilly treated after their manner, and giveing
 Woodward formall possession of the whole Country to hold as
Tennant att Will of the right Honoble the Lords Proprietors, I
retorned aboard and imediately weighed and fell downe.

An Indian that came with mee from Edistowe with In­
tenc +¯on to goe no further then Port Royall seeing this kindnes
and mutuall obligation betweene us and the people of this
place, that his Nac +¯on or tribe might bee within the League,
voluntarily offered himselfe to stay with mee alsoe, and
 would not bee denyed, and thinking that soe hee should be the
more acceptable hee caused himselfe to be shoaren on the
Crowne, after the manner of the Port Royall Indians, a fashion 
which I guesse they have taken from the Spanish Fryers.
Here is a story about Henry Woodward and Capt. John Thurber

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Posted in Arts & Culture, Charleston South Carolina, Native American, South Carolina History, travel

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.


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