Tuesday, April 6, 2010
In Charleston. With the breeze coming off the water to cool you down under the warm Southern sun. With the flowers, the ones not yet in bloom, buds close to cracking, just as beautiful as those that are. There are small shops everywhere, eccentric and unique to themselves - here, downtown, there are no McDonald's or Super Wal-Mart's in sight.
There are birds of all sort, many of them seabirds - pelicans swoop low by the docks, an anhinga sits low on the surface with the water up to its neck.
The streets in between the buildings are full of the personality and beauty that only time and history can bring. Some are cobblestone or brick. Here I can pass a lawyer's office that was a store in the 18'th century. There are countless monuments - to soldiers from all our wars, to local heroes, to brave politicians, to symbols of honesty and virtue.
I suppose it's obvious that I love Charleston. Even the crowded, too-touristy market is bearable and not as obnoxious as tourist traps are in other places. Because even here the unmistakable flavor of Charleston seeps in.
Today I spoke to a woman weaving baskets. She is nearly fifty and began learning to work the sweetgrass from her mother and grandmother when she was four years old. She says she is still learning, in an art, you are always learning. Her creations were beautiful and artistic, but functional and hardy. We spoke of the ancient art of her craft - she mentioned how even in the Bible it is mentioned, far off from us in ancient Egypt, in the story of Moses in the basket of bulrushes.
Charleston is much younger than Egypt, of course. At least, Charleston as we know it. But here we are all, carrying our ancient ways and crafts to this one place to make it what it is. It is beautiful. Like the baskets, and the men and women who weave them, I suppose Charleston will last forever, in varying degrees and shades of beauty, grace, and transition.