Rooted in the Lowcountry

“The setting is enchanting enough to charm cobras out of baskets.”  – Pat Conroy

Grand Live Oak chw©2005

Is it the languidity?  Or the lack of straight lines? Perhaps it is the hanging moss, the massive twisting tree trunks, the winding creeks. The birdsong. Or the soothing sound of the wind, or of ocean?

I am a journal keeper. I credit the extraordinary Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, and my favorite, Vein of Gold, with getting me hooked on ‘morning pages’. My dedication to morning pages gave birth to this blog, and opened up a world of expression for me I did not know I needed.

So, periodically, I go back now and read old journals. What struck me recently is how unmoored I was before I found my sense of place. My rootedness is in the land now. It is a place that is not only beautiful, but quite alive with ancestral connection and energy that feeds my spirit. The Gullah people understand this, and I am fairly certain their African religious heritage, which always included reverence for the ancestors, contributed much to whiter Southerners glorification of their ancestors, too, in their more historical way. For anyone with Lowcountry roots, our history has had a profound influence.

20 S. Battery, looking SW (Library of Congress)

But, as John Berger writes, in Ways of Seeing, a book about looking at art, “History always constitutes the relation between a present and its past. “Consequently,” he says, “fear of the present leads to mystification of the past.” How do we see history in fresh ways? “The past is not for living in, ” he continues, ” It is a well of conclusions from which we draw in order to act.” Fortunately, Charleston is now thriving with a new identity, one of artistic expression. The Spoleto and the Piccolo Festivals arrive in weeks in Charleston, bringing fresh ideas rooted in our rich historical and literary past.

Our literary heritage is drenched in place and family. “One place comprehended can make us understand other places better”, Eudora Welty said. “A sense of place is the necessary compass that people carry within themselves, a compass that enables them to find the universal in the particular. A sense of place gives equilibrium. It is by knowing where you stand that you grow able to judge where you are.

I think of Claude Monet, in France, painting the same place over and over just to watch the light change. The moonrise in the early evening sky here, or daybreak, is the same, yet different everyday. Monet expected that same place to reveal new colors and new insight to him every single day. Oh, indeed, what surprises are in store if one is looking.

I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in art, Arts & Culture, beauty, Charleston South Carolina, creativity, Green, Gullah, Poetry, South Carolina History, spirituality, Writing
One comment on “Rooted in the Lowcountry
  1. kk7002 says:

    Well, you did it again dear Lotty – another marvel!

    “…Is it the languidity? Or the lack of straight lines? Perhaps it is the hanging moss, the massive twisting tree trunks, the winding creeks. The birdsong. Or the soothing sound of the wind, or of ocean?…”

    For someone like me who lives in a grid of vertical and horizontal straight lines (a.k.a. Manhattan), it definitely is the lack of straight lines. Compared to The Tree That Grows in Brooklyn (Ailanthus altissima), the Southern Live Oak suggests whimsy and enchantment. Prose versus poetry. Straight or winding & twisting, all lines have their dynamic and since it is all about the journey, they must have different destinations, mustn’t they?


    p.s.: From wikipedia: “Ailanthus altissima…The tree grows rapidly and is capable of reaching heights of 15 metres (49 ft) in 25 years. However, the species is also short lived ….” Doesn’t that just sum up the quintessential NYC experience? ;-)

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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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