Monday, May 11, 2009

Things That Change and Things That Never Do

If you've never been to Charleston, South Carolina, you must put it on your "bucket list." If you have the least bit of interest in history. In haunted places. Battles. The ocean. Gracious living. Tradition.I had the good fortune to live in a small town twenty minutes away from the city proper about 22 years ago. So, it seemed to make sense for my husband and me to detour a bit on our way home to Texas from North Carolina, where we were visiting our youngest daughter and her family.We, of course had to check out where we used to live. This actually involved two stops, as we had moved into a larger house about a year before we left with the expectation of making it our permanent home after my husband's retirement from the Air Force. But it didn't turn out that way. We had to go with the city that held the most promising job - and that was Houston, Texas.Our lazy, lovely little town was nearly unrecognizable! Instead of uninterrupted avenues of pine trees, we were assaulted with car washes, fast food restaurants, auto parts stores. The verdict one house number one: good. The current owners were keeping it up nicely, had a new fence and had painted the wood part an acceptable color. We moved on to the second house. Not so good here. Parts of the wood rail on the long front porch were missing, making the house's front look somewhat like a face whose mouth was missing some teeth.It was a relief to move on to Charleston, proper. On the way, we encountered new roads, some "depressed" areas that looked even worse than when we had lived there before. A few high-rises.But Charleston, itself? Still the same, wonderfully proud lady! It was no surprise to us. After all, wasn't this the city that painted the spire of St. Michael's (or is it St. Philip's? I can never keep that straight) black during the revolutionary war to camouflage it from the Brits?Even the devastation inflicted by Hugo several years back barely scarred Charleston's centuries old homes. Hurricanes were nothing new, and there were huge bolts that went through houses from front to back to strengthen them for just such an event.And the open market is still there, just as it was in Rhett Butler's day. Now, where there used to be a plethora of homegrown produce and hand-crafted tools, there is largely merchandise seen at any flea market throughout the country.But you can still get some of the good stuff, if you look hard enough. One example of this is the hand-made baskets woven on site by the Gullah-descendant woman who learned this craft from their mothers, who had in turn learned it from their mothers. What makes them so special is that the designs on the baskets are not created dye, but rather by the weaving itself. So no two are ever alike. I was given one as a parting gift when I left South Carolina years ago, and it is still proudly in evidence in my present home.Now, I am back to the area where medical research makes amazing strides on a regular basis, and the hub of space travel touches the stars every day. I'm glad there are wonderful changes going on in this world.But I'm also happy to know I can always be sure to find a few places where I can count on things staying the same.
Posted by Susan H. Miller at 12:09 PM 1 comments

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