The color blue takes up a lot of space here. Perhaps it is the broad expanse of sky and sea. Blue houses and shutters protect those living inside from evil spirits (‘haints’) – a Gullah tradition that has its roots in the African American sea island culture, and includes stories like ‘haints’ can’t travel over water, which is another reason for the common use of blue paint, perhaps.
Historically, there is also interesting research that indicates that the number of people who died of the mosquito born disease of malaria was reduced substantially when the region was producing its highest quantity of Indigo, the blue color. The production, by slaves, was quite profitable to the plantation that produced Indigo for export, in the Lowcountry in the early 18th century.
Planters gave their slaves the dregs from the boiling pots, which the slaves used to decorate window frames and porch posts. The belief was that the blue color kept spirits away. Burial customs had changed from Africa to America. According to Roger Pinkney in his book Blue Roots. Africans previously buried bodies quickly, because of the heat, then gathered for a second burial in a year or so, when all the family could gather for a great feast and when the bones could be exumed, lovingly wrapped in cloth or leaves and prayerfully then reburied in a final resting place. When Indigo production ceased in the 1780’s, the tradition continued with blue paint, and continues to this day on Edisto Island and many other sea islands in South Carolina and Georgia.
But just right now, the earth is offering up her most breathtaking version of the color blue in the Carolina Lowcountry. The hydrandea bush is in bloom like I cannot remember. This one spectacular round blue bloom is in my neighbor’s yard on Legare Road on Edisto Island.