Category Archives: Charleston

The Unfortunate Intruder

It’s been raining here a lot lately.



Not just typical August-style raining. We’ve been dealing with the all-day-long, thunder-and-lightning, high-winds-and-hail, torrential downpour kind of rain.



After a week or more of this weather, we’re left with sodden ground, lots of standing water and puddles, and a longing for the sunshine.

Finally, the clouds parted yesterday and the sun peeked feebly out, as if to check to see if the coast was clear. And for the first day in a week, I was able to go outside, breathe in the fresh (wet) air, and proceed with my day as normal.

For those who are long time readers, you know that my job is a strange one. I live where I work, and vice versa. And my normal morning routine goes like this: wake up, shower, dress, fret with my new (longer) hairstyle, walk to the office, open the office, and go outside to get the golf cart.

So there I was, bopping along, a song in my heart and a smile on my face. Whistling a since-forgotten tune, I opened up the unit door so I could retrieve the golf cart for the day. 

I should pause here to remind you that, as an official Spider-Hater, I am always hyper vigilant when it comes to keeping an eye out for them. Especially when I’m entering a situation where they have been known to linger before. So, every day, twice a day, when I open that unit door, I automatically go into “Scan for Spider” mode. That, along with the sudden “clicking” sound, was the only thing that alerted me to the unfortunate intruder.

For the first time in nearly 9 years, it wasn’t a spider, or a hoppy toad, or a waterbug that greeted me when I opened the door.

It was an honest-to-goodness crawfish.

 

And he was less happy to see me than I was to see him.

My immediate gut reaction was to run for the hills, screaming Brian’s name all the way back to the safety of the office. Here I was, all by myself, in flip flops, facing a ditch shrimp. Terrific.



But I hesitated just long enough for Mr. Crawfish to begin backing himself in a corner, little claws at the ready, clicking and clacking the whole way. He literally quivered with fear. And my terror turned to concern for The Little Guy’s welfare. I quickly scanned the contents of the unit, looking for tools that I could use to strategize LG’s rescue.

Leaning against the wall in the opposite corner was my trusty old lobby dust pan and broom set. You know–the kind of dust pan that closes and traps the dirt inside. I picked it up, and it was slightly heavy from dust and debris. I considered walking to the trash can on the other side of the building to empty it, but as I turned to walk away, LG started to back himself into a corner that I knew I’d never retrieve him from unharmed. 

“Well, buddy, you’re just gonna have to hold your breath for a minute, then,” I mumbled. And I situated myself so that my toes were as far enough away from LG as possible, placing the dust pan between us. Very carefully, I nudged LG into the dust pan with the broom.



If he was scared before, he was royally peeved now. The insistent little “click click” of his claws was now a louder “clack clack” combined with what I can only describe as a hissing sound that came from his body. He attacked the broom bristles with gusto, clasping onto them and refusing to let go. LG’s resistance to the dust pan increased my anxiety to a fever pitch. There may have been wailing involved.

After a 5 minute struggle, I finally got the poor man’s lobster safely inside the dust pan. Unfortunately, it does not lock. So I beat feet to the golf cart, leaned the dust pan against the seat so it would stay closed, and threw that sucker into reverse. I drove about 200 yards, to the back of the facility and the swamp beyond. I could hear him clicking his claws menacingly from the confines of his dusty prison.



I parked the cart, carefully took the dust pan, and carried it to the closest point to water that I could get to (without getting my feet wet). I chose the perfect spot, spread my feet wide, and carefully tipped the dust pan so that its contents (crawdaddy and all) slid out onto the marshy ground. LG was covered in dust and debris. And guess what, ya’ll? He was STILL angry.

 


I waited, hoping for that moment where he would realize his freedom and scurry into the dark, swirling water. The music would swell, a lone tear would roll down my cheek, and all would be right with the world. But The Little Guy just sat there, in his pile of filth and debris, clacking his claws at me angrily. So I climbed back onto my golf cart, bid him goodbye, and went back to my day.

I went to check on him later in the day, and he was gone, with only a little trail of dirt leading to the fence line to let me know he’d been there at all. 

Farewell, my dirty little friend. May you live on to scare the s**t out of someone else another day.

Summer Storm

It starts in the sky. Clouds darken, fill, blackening the horizon. Moments later, a distant rumble, a flash of lightning…all signs of an incoming summer storm. I grab my camera and dash outside to meet it, mood whipped into a frenzy from too many phone calls, too many distractions. I need a moment with Mother Nature, and she’s going to provide me with a temper tantrum much like the one I’ve been craving to throw all day.

 
The temperature, 100 degrees in the shade, begins to plummet as the storm crosses the sun’s path. The wind picks up, howling between the buildings, whipping the tree limbs back and forth, like She’s waving a white flag–begging to release the fury. The sky darkens to a deep indigo. The weather vanes quiver, then begin to spin.
 
 
 
All the frustration, irritation, and anger I’ve felt in the last few hours start to pop up to the surface with each picture I take. My fingers tingle. I take a breath in, let it out, trying to calm my frazzled nerves. As the storm builds around me, I feel my tense muscles begin to release. And then–a flash of lightning splinters across the sky. “One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand,” I mutter under my breath. It’s closing in. It’s coming. My bruised emotions are drowning in the excitement of the brewing storm.
 
As the first few raindrops kiss my forehead, I lift my camera and snap pictures of the clouds rolling in. The timpani of the thunder matches the beat of my heart. The little hairs on my arms begin to stand on end as the heart of the storm gets closer, closer, closer.
 

The raindrops grow fatter, dampening my hair, sliding down my neck. And still I snap as many photos as I can while shielding my camera from the oncoming deluge. The clouds reach their boiling point, wind howling all around me, and yet, for the first time all day, I feel calm.
 
When the bottom drops out, and the rain comes down in sheets, I retreat indoors to watch the storm from the window. Mother Nature is unrelenting, pounding the pavement in her midnight blue high heels, washing away the heat of the day with her summer storm. I sit and watch, enthralled, the chill from the air conditioning setting into my bones. The phone rings; I ignore it. And sink into the calm after the storm.

Can’t…Think……Brain…Mush….

First, this happened:



Then, this happened:



It’s really hard to think when your brain is being fried inside your own skull. Can it be 70 degrees again? Like, now?

The Land I Love

People ask me all the time what it is that I love so much about Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve answered that question a hundred different ways. I could go on and on about the beaches, the historical landmarks, the museums and restaurants and hot spots. I’ve told you at length about The Tree that calls to you from the heart of Charleston. There’s just something about this place, something magical, that fills my heart with gladness that we live here.


There’s a feeling about Charleston, like a heartbeat, that creates a unique environment all its own. The oak trees, the Spanish moss, the sweltering heat and swarms of mosquitoes, the sweetness of its tea and the kindness of its people…there are a hundred reasons why I love Charleston as much as I do.


But sometimes, words don’t do an adequate job of it. Sometimes, the land I love can only be captured in photos. And even in those photos, though you can catch a glimpse of what makes Charleston the most beautiful place on earth, you still miss that feeling, that heartbeat.


But I still try to capture it, each time we venture out of our home. You want to know why I love Charleston so much? Let me try to explain in pictures.

 




The Day I Almost Lost My Leg To An Evil Sea Monster

A few days ago, I finally got to enjoy the first beach day of the summer with gal pal, Arielle. It was a gorgeous day–clear blue sky, warm but breezy, and sunny enough to get a jump start on our tans. It was a perfectly normal, perfectly wonderful, perfectly unexceptional day at the beach.

 
After a few hours of sunbathing, we decided to head down to the water for a quick swim. As we approached the ocean, we noticed a small group of women yanking their children out of the shallows, waving their arms around and shouting at one another in warning. Curious, Arielle and I headed over to find out what the commotion was all about. A rather buxom woman in a pink bikini told us she’d just seen a sting ray on the bottom. And according to her, it was the biggest sting ray ever seen on the East Coast.
 
She stretched her arms so wide, it was as if she was made of silly putty.

Now, before you panic, there are 2 things you need to know about the South Carolina coast. Number one: the water isn’t crystal clear. In fact, it’s so silty you can’t see anything beneath its surface. That means that you’re swimming with the fishes without being able to see the fishes, which is both alarming and comforting at the same time. Number two: yes, sting rays can be pretty big. However, the children were playing in water that was about ankle deep. And in all the years I’ve been swimming in the Carolina oceans, I’ve never seen a sting ray. (Not to say that I’m a marine expert. I’m not. I’m sure there are a bazillion sting ray sightings in any given summer. I’m just saying I’ve never seen one.)
 
Also, it should be said that rarely does a sting ray ever grow to the size of a school bus,
which is what pink bikini lady was leading us to believe.

Undeterred, but erring on the side of caution, Arielle and I walked several yards down from the sting ray sighting, and plunged into the waves. The water was deliciously chilly, and we spent the next half an hour floating, and laughing, and splashing. 
 
We ♥ the ocean.

In the middle of a particularly funny story, a wave took me under and swept me away from Arielle. I wanted to hear the punch line, so I started walking toward her. And that’s when I stepped on something that was clearly NOT the sandy bottom. And how did I know that, you ask? Well, readers, it moved. And I reacted thusly:
 
In case the picture isn’t self-explanatory…ahem….”AAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH.”

Arielle was still several feet away from me and could not hear my distress howl over the sound of the waves. All I knew, in that split second, was that there were two major objectives that needed to be achieved, and quickly. One: get the hell out of dodge. And two: warn my friend of the impending doom beneath my feet. So I did the only logical thing.
 
I launched myself at Arielle and latched around her neck, legs kicking behind me.
 
She was utterly confused.
 

“What the…..?” she asked.
 
“Wiggle…slimy….trying to eat me…,” I sputtered.
 
“WHAT?” Arielle shouted.
 
“STING RAY!!!!!!!!!!”
 
That got her attention. And the frantic paddling for shore began. Neither of us would let our feet touch the sand, which led to hauling ourselves up on the beach like seals. We were safe, our toes uneaten, and butts unstung. 
 
And somewhere along the coast of South Carolina, the elephantine sting ray of death swims evilly beneath the surface, with an Abby-sized footprint on its back.

Mood Swings

Restless. Like the pounding of the sea in that ancient rhythm. The ebb and flow of my life leaves me wanting more. My soul is itchy beneath my skin, desperate for meaning. I look to menial tasks to make me feel like I’ve accomplished something in a day where my only duty is to answer the phone, answer the email, answer the same question over and over. There’s no logic to it. There’s no real reason to feel this way. And yet, I do. I need to get out. I need to get away. I need to bury my feet in the sand, lift my face to the sun, and purge discontent. I am restless.


Content.
 Like wrapping hands around a steaming mug of fresh coffee. It spreads its warmth up through my chest, wrapping me in an embrace as familiar as time. I prop my feet up on my husband’s lap, cover us both with the gray-green afghan, and sink into gratification. There’s nowhere to be tonight. No deadlines to meet, no tests to cram for, nothing requiring our immediate attention. Brian rubs lazy circles on my calf with his thumb and my eyelids begin to droop. As the moon rises in the sky, I feel my heart fill with unrestricted, absolute love. I am content.


Listless. Like every muscle has turned to water and any spirit once perceived has now dissipated. Lifeless, limbless, I am so much flotsam on a lazy sea. I have no desire to move, no desire to breathe, no desire at all. I float on an air of laziness. The only energy spent is that of the solitary tear drop that ekes from my eye. Questions bounce around in my brain: When is it my turn? When will life stop being so hard? What did I do wrong? A thunderclap outside and all I can think is finally, the weather will match my mood. I am listless.


Hopeful.
 Like a gull on the edge of the wind, soaring up, up, up into the blue. I place my hands on my belly and close my eyes, imagining what it will be like to feel life move beneath them one day. In the deepest parts of night, I lie awake, eyes barely focused on the popcorn ceiling, and pretend I can hear her cries for me, wailing through the gloom. I can almost trace the swell of her cheeks, the curve of her elbow, the slope of her nose, as if it were my own face in my mind’s eye. Hair, thick and dark; eyes the color of rain clouds; fingernails minuscule and translucent: I can see her. How I dream for her. How I wish for her. Knowing that she is still within me, somewhere…I am hopeful.



Hurt.
 Like a child sent to bed without her supper for no reason she can understand. I am bewildered, rejected, discarded like so much trash. I reexamine everything I ever said, everything I ever did, to deserve this treatment. I turn to those I can still trust, those who love me for who and what I am, those who don’t judge me for my misgivings. And still, it is there, in the back of my mind. Each word a weapon, and the silences that are deafening. They seem to go on forever. I’ve wished for a chance to understand. But I do not. I cannot. And I have to stop trying. For my own sake, for yours. I will retreat to my corner now and lick my wounds. Self-preservation is the only avenue I know now. I am hurt.



Optimistic.
Like the very knowledge that the storm will eventually blow over. The bits and pieces will be picked up and put back together again. I will find a way to move past the others and be victorious. My life may not be perfect, but my life is my own. I will live it to the fullest, find a way to dull the aches and overcome the pains. I will revel in my love, my family, my friends. I will write and write and write, peeling away a layer each time I hit “publish.” I will laugh too loudly, love too fiercely, and live too largely. I will be okay. I am optimistic.


I am linking up with Yeah Write today,
because it’s not very often that I’m in a serious 
mood, and so it should be recorded
for posterity.

Weekend Warriors (An Illustrated Abby Gabs)

Sundays are Professional Family Days for us. When I say that we have it down to an art, it’s not an exaggeration. A typical Sunday consists of Dad’s famous country breakfast, time outside with the dogs, a grocery trip (or two, depending on how much beer is left in the fridge from Saturday night), dinner on the grill, and inevitably, a bonfire.


It’s pretty perfect. I look forward to Sundays from Monday morning until Saturday night. We will occasionally have a variation on the above-mentioned formula, and that’s ok. But for the most part, my Sundays are pretty much always the same.


Except for this past weekend.


We’d easily gotten through breakfast and a grocery trip without incident. There was even a quick jaunt to Sam’s Club thrown in the mix, just to spice things up a bit. By the time the sun went down, Adam decided it was time to start our weekly bonfire. And so, Daddy, Adam, Brian and I headed out to the back yard, while Mom finished cleaning up the evening’s dishes.


Things started out normal enough. Adam started a pretty low-key fire, burning a few cardboard boxes and an old pallet. We sat around, sipped our beer, and let the warmth of the fire lull us the rest of the way into a full-blown food-coma.



After about 30 minutes (and a few more beers), Adam made the announcement that he had a pile of stuff in the garage he needed to burn. Brian and I glanced at each other, eyebrows raised, as Adam rounded the corner with another pallet and several more cardboard boxes. Dad hummed along with Garth Brooks in his picnic chair, totally relaxed and oblivious to what was coming next.


Namely, Laid Back Adam was now being replaced with Fire Bug Adam. And Dad was none the wiser.


It didn’t take me long to figure out, despite my slight beer haze, that Adam’s plans may go a bit awry. Especially after he launched Pallet Number One onto the already-blazing fire. Brian was right there with me. Somewhere between Pallet Number One and Pallet Number Two, Dad started to catch on, too. 


But it wasn’t until Mom (also known as The Voice Of Reason) joined us that panic began to set in.



You see, there’s a small tree that overhangs the fence in my parents’ back yard. And the flames from Adam’s bonfire were just beginning to lick the very bottom branches. Sparks flew up into the night sky each time my baby brother would add a new cardboard box to the inferno. And we’d all been nonchalantly waiting for one of those embers to catch, and for the tree to go up in flames.


Eleven words from my mother and the entire family jumped into action, like characters in a cartoon.



Brian, always prepared, had his phone at the ready, fingers poised to dial 9-1-1 at a moment’s notice.


Adam sprinted across the yard, hauling the water hose behind him, shouting, “Dad! Dad! Go turn on the water!!!”


Mom and I jumped behind Brian, to protect ourselves from errant flames that may decide to dance on our heads.


And Dad stood calmly by the conflagration now threatening his tree and, ultimately, his garage, and directed Adam as to where to point the hose.


Ten minutes later, crises averted, we were back in our chairs around the fire, enjoying our frosty beverages, tree still (mostly) in tact.


I can’t wait until next Sunday.

I’m linking up with Yeah Write this week,
because I’m hoping someone out in the
blogosphere will appreciate how much
my drawing has improved, thanks to 
the handy dandy Draw Something app. 
I’ve been practicing!!
Make sure you stop by and read the other
fantastic blogs that are linking up, as well!

Abby’s Three Sure-Fire Ways To Get Yourself Out Of A Funk (Or, Drink A Lot of Sake)

I mentioned a few days ago that I’ve been having a bad case of the blues. There are several contributing factors to my funk…ranging from work woes to familial fracas (fracii?) to persistent worry over friends. Quite frankly, there have been a few days in the past month that I’ve just wanted to either A) pack a bag and catch the next flight outta here, preferably to a tropical climate where there is always copious amounts of rum or B) crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep my life away.


As it often goes, life doesn’t work that way. As much as I deeply desire to have my ass in the sand and a beer in my hand, I just can’t get away right now. (Isn’t that a country music song? If not, it should be.) And so, I’ve found other ways to cope with this unsolicited depression. Some things have worked, others have not. Today, I’m sharing with you the list of things that worked…the good, the bad, and the sake.

Abby’s DIY Funk-Removal Program
 
Get thine arse off the couch and get outside.
When it’s sunny, and 65, and absolutely gorgeous, you shouldn’t stay inside watching reruns of Friends on TBS. That’s what I’d been telling myself for about a week when I finally took my own advice. On Wednesday, I got up at 5:30, put on my shoes, and went for a jog. Then, invigorated, I hopped in my car and drove myself to Lowe’s, where I spent a large chunk of my paycheck on living green things.
 
A few pots, a couple of bags of potting soil, and my iPod plugged in, I spent the better part of the morning planting my annual container garden. There’s something therapeutic about having your hands in the soil. My pretty little petunias agree.
 
This year, I’m growing tomatoes, basil, cilantro, dill, and strawberries. I’m already looking forward to harvesting their bounty. There is nothing in the world as wonderful as my favorite Springtime Pasta, especially when the tomatoes and basil come from my very own garden.

I also took the opportunity to fill my new cheery bird feeders. I’ve already been thoroughly thanked by the local bird population. I’ve woken up the past two mornings greeted with birdsong—cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, purple finches, house wrens, grackles….and I’m holding my breath that I’ll see a Carolina Wren before too much longer. 


My plants, my birds, my sunshine….better than Prozac. I’m tellin’ ya.
 
Get thine arse dressed up and go on a double date with friends.
After scrubbing all the dirt out from underneath my fingernails, I donned a pretty spring dress and headed out for a double date with our friends, Steven and Arielle. We went to an amazing Thai-fusion restaurant called Bambu (which just so happens to be run by our dear friend, Sam.)
 
Let me remind you that we live in the sticks. And all the cool stuff to do is in Charleston. And because we live in the sticks, and Charleston is almost an hour away, we don’t always get to do all the same cool stuff that all the cool Charleston kids do. Well, Wednesday was my day to be cool. 
 
I drank sake. I engaged in witty and intelligent conversation. I ate sushi (for the first time, ever.)
 

Did I mention that I drank sake? Not just your run-of-the-mill sake, but apple-infused sake. It tasted like little shots of apple pie. So. Stinkin’. Good.
 
I will mention here that sake makes me a little silly. Case in point: I was absolutely fascinated with the sinks in the ladies’ bathroom at Bambu. So much so, that I took a video. Don’t believe me? Here it is:

 

 
It’s ok. You can laugh at me. It’s laugh-worthy.
 
So, after 3 (or was it 4?) shots of sake, a couple glasses of wine, the most delicious food I’ve eaten in months, and the kind of gut-busting laughter that only comes with the company of really great friends, life was good again. It was like getting a big ol’ shot of happy, right in my arm. 
 
I’m totally ready to do it all over again. (Especially the sake. Did I mention the sake? Oh my lord, the sake…)
 
Get thine arse in your pajamas and spend the day doing absolutely nothing special with your spouse or significant other.
What can I say about this one other than it works?? Our day went like this:
 
*Cereal. 
*Pointless conversation. 
*Headline News. 
*Sports Center. 
*Skyrim time. (Yes, we play together. One drives, the other navigates. What? It’s adorable.)
*Pause for Abby to make lunch (curry chicken salad sandwiches with fresh pineapple).
*Lunch with a movie (Comic-Con: Episode IV, created by the esteemed and adored Joss Whedon. It was the best stinkin’ documentary, ever. If you have any love for nerdism, watch it!)
*Brian builds a new Transformer’s shelf and rearranges his collection. Abby takes pictures and tries not to laugh at her husband.

My living room looks like Hasbro puked all over it.

*More Skyrim time.
*<edited for content>
*Pause for Abby to cook dinner (gorgeous steaks with collard greens and corn on the cob–Brian’s favorite meal.)
*Eat dinner with another movie (We Bought a Zoo–really great, feel-good movie. Loved it.)
*Early bedtime for reading, snuggling, and talking about how awesome our day just was. Vow to do it again next Thursday.

*   *   *   *   *
Are you down and out? Feeling moody? More interested in moping than moving? If so, try these three fail proof methods of lifting your mood. They will work every single time. I swear. 
 
I just managed to make this whole blog sound like a Hairclub for Men commercial. Because I’m just that awesome.
*   *   *   *  *
Also, thanks to those of you who have visited Sunshine for Everett since my post on Tuesday. I’m thrilled and beyond-excited to announce that we’ve already had a few donations come through, both here and on SforE!!! Everett continues his battle with HUS, and for daily updates, you can visit his new blog. Thanks for all your support and continued prayers!!

My Husband Is The Alligator Hunter

I’m guessing you read the title to this post more than once. And now you’re looking to me for an explanation. And the explanation goes a little something like this.

A few days ago, Brian and I decided that it was far too pretty to stay inside. And so we ventured to one of our favorite spots: Cypress Gardens. A little wildlife reserve just a few miles from our home, Cypress is one of our “must visit” locales when spring hits full force. Among other things, the hiking, self-guided boat tours of the swamp, and beautiful foliage draws us there again and again.

On this particular day, we took our flat-bottomed boat out onto the black surface of the water with only one goal in mind: spot some alligators. Most of our friends who have visited Cypress Gardens in the past have reported sightings of the giant reptiles, but Brian and I had never seen one.

Until now.

We paddled slowly through the water, silent and watching. And when we spotted our first gator sliding slowly through the water, my husband turned into the Steve Irwin. (Without the thick accent. Or the all-khaki zoo outfit.)

Out of the blue, he started spouting off everything he ever learned about our scaly friends. I was busy snapping as many pictures as my memory card would hold, and so I just nodded a lot. Most everything I knew already, but I did learn a thing or two. (My husband is smart, ya’ll.)

Two gator sightings and ten minutes later, Brian noticed that the boat way in front of us had taken a wonky detour. Determined to see what they were staring at, he pointed our vessel in their general direction. And what we found was certainly not a disappointment. There, sunning on a log literally 3 feet from our boat, was a gator. She was about 7 feet long, and she didn’t even blink as we glided silently up next to her.

Again, I was furiously taking pictures. My husband, sitting behind me, kept whispering the word “Wow,” over and over again. And an image of him as Steve Irwin popped into my head.

We must have sat and stared at that alligator for at least 15 minutes. It wasn’t until we heard another family (this time with kids…very loud, very vocal, very not-conducive-to-watching-alligators-in-the-wild kids) paddling up behind us. Knowing they’d want a chance to see the alligator, too, we started heading for shore.

To say the experience was electrifying is a bit of an understatement. Brian kept looking over his shoulder to make sure she was still on her log and not following after us for a quick afternoon snack. We each commented later that it felt like we were being watched. The little hairs on my arms raise up just thinking about it.

Feet firmly back on terra firma, we walked around the rest of the park, enjoying the wildlife and spring flowers. As we approached one of several little bridges in the park, Brian took my hand and said “I wonder what they do if a gator gets into one of these little retaining ponds over night.”

“I’d say they probably move him, ASAP,” I replied. In that moment, I noticed a pretty bench nearby that I wanted to photograph. I released Brian’s hand and grabbed the camera that had been hanging around my neck. And as I raised it to take the photo, I was met with Brian’s  sharp intake of breath, followed with his arm thrown up in a defensive manner over my body.

“What? What is it??” I looked around frantically, thinking of snakes, wasps, or spiders.

And that’s when I saw it. The alligator sitting near the path, mouth agape, still as a statue.

Because it was a statue.

Seriously.

We both laughed for approximately 10 minutes. And then Brian turned to me and said, “You’re totally going to blog about this aren’t you?”

Being the good sport he is, he suggested the next 3 posed photos for your enjoyment. (Isn’t he so generous, readers?) I embellished them a bit with photoshop, but you’ll get the gist.

It’s really something special when, after almost 8 years of marriage, you learn something new about your spouse. And on this day, beneath the canopy of live oak trees, I learned 3 new things about Brian. Number one: his knowledge of alligators is way more extensive than I would have realized. Number two: He may have been Steve Irwin in a different life. And Number Three: He would go to the ends of the earth to protect me from a concrete alligator.

Thanks honey. You’re all aces.

It’s that time again, friends! I’m sharing my work
with all my pals over at Yeah Write.
Mostly because I’m curious to see what they’ll
have to say to my husband. The Alligator Hunter.
*snort*

The Tree

There’s just something about trees.

Here in the South, we have live oak trees. They are huge, and leafy, and they drip with silvery Spanish moss.

But there’s one Tree in particular that is more than just another tree. There are few words in the English language that can truly explain this Tree. “Majestic” comes to mind. It’s the Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island. And it is a sight to behold.

We have tried to explain The Tree to our friends and family. We allow our eyes to grow wide and our voices to lower to a reverent whisper when we speak of its beauty. But its not until we take them to stand beneath her boughs that it truly makes sense. We tell them what to expect, and how they will react. We tell them “you will marvel at its girth, its grandeur, its grace. And you will be awed.”

People pilgrimage to The Tree. They come to sit at the base of her massive trunk. They come to place their hands upon the bark. They come to breathe in the smell of earth and fallen leaves. They come to listen to the music of the wind as it sings through the limbs. Conversations stop as they first encounter her, and voices are immediately hushed to a whisper. There’s a reverence here, a sense of awe and wonder, of piety. With faces lifted to heaven, a deep spirituality washes over all who enter here.

Pictured: Brian’s Aunt Tina–rock star, true friend, and fellow tree enthusiast.

After a few moments, murmured questions arise. “How old is it?” you will ask. And we will respond, “They estimate over 1500 years old.” You’ll cross your arms, close your eyes, and think back to your high school world history class. You’ll think of all the life that was lived beneath the boughs of The Tree. The wars that were fought, the homes that were built and destroyed, the people in bonnets and hoop skirts or feathered headdresses and deerskin leggings who must have journeyed here as well. You think of the hands that have tended The Tree. The people who have dedicated their lives to keeping it healthy. The men or women who have weeded around its base, propped up the limbs that were beginning to crack, and carefully removed those damaged by wind and storm. And you’ll place your hands on the rough bark, run your fingers over the lichen and the moss and the knots. And you’ll place yourself in The Tree’s history, too.

And when the time comes to leave, you’ll find it hard to pull away. You’ll look back over your shoulder, taking in Mother Nature’s imposing work of art, and you will sigh. And as your car bumps down the dirt path of Bohicket Road, you will try to put your adoration into words. And you know, deep in your heart, that The Angel Oak will call to you until you meet again.