Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Low Country

Charleston's Cooper River Bridge, photo © 2012 Susan E. Hance

There is something timeless and aluring about the low country of South Carolina. As soon as we travel over the bridge in Georgetown, I can imagine people in the 1800s working the rice fields, boating down the river, or riding a horse under low hanging Spanish moss that drapes the ancient live oaks. If only they could talk.

It makes me wonder what generations to come will remember of us.

I visit family near Charleston where we make memories. Who knows, maybe the oaks, water, and sand absorb those memories so that they seep into the fabric of the place. And the fabric changes over time, ever so slightly, like the tides. People who once loved and lived a culture leave us remnants, and as they change, so does our inheritance. Oftentimes for the better.

Charleston's charming old buildings and new construction live in harmony. We can too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stormy Days

Gull on a cloudy day.
Photo© 2012 , Susan E. Hance

The coast has its moods, just like the rest of us. On stormy days the ocean churns and birds fly into the wind and rain, braving the elements until the sky clears and bright sunlight breaks through. Sound like an analogy for life? Maybe it is.

Recently, a friend from long ago found me through Facebook. We caught up via email; how's the family, where do you live now, how's life? She is remarried after finding a person who brings contentment to life, a soul mate for the next leg of the journey. I want things to be good for her. She was good to me on a hot August day long ago.

My water broke during the 11 o'clock news and we drove to New Bern, like night shift workers cutting a path through muggy black air toward the hospital.  Our son's two a.m. arrival came quietly, as his blue lips spurted small sounds and the nurses communicated with looks, not words. Not to say his birth was without fanfare. In the next 48 hours there was a flurry of activity while doctors assessed his large body and weak breathing. By the time he was transported to Duke University Hospital, leaving me on the maternity floor without a baby, I was in desperate need of a friend--and she came through.

She worked as a nurse anesthetist, but on this her day off, she donned her badge so she could skirt visiting hours and keep me company. The doctors came to tell me the sad news: your baby might have a heart or lung defect. Having no idea what that meant for him or what his outcome would be, we had to set our faces into the wind and press on. My friend made the trip more bearable by being there.

Two weeks ago, the love of her life went to the doctor because of a persistent cough. He is fit in every other way and just needed something for the cough. The doctors told them the bad news: lung cancer in a person who has never smoked. Stage IV, spread to brain and bone. Just like that. I cried as if he were my own relative, though I've never met him. If you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, call me, I said. I'll come see you on your New England coast, I said; we'll have coffee or a glass of wine. I can't do much, but sometimes it's just about being there until you can see sunlight again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coastal Living

Snow's Cut on a Winter Evening,
Photo © 2012, Susan E. Hance
Coastal living has a flavor that's different from inland places. A different pace. As the bumper sticker says, "Slow down, this is not the mainland." 

I like the pace and others do too. They visit, go home and pack, move here and take up the lifestyle.

In the coastal towns I've visited all over the US and in other countries, people living on saltwater share some similarities.

We have sand in our shoes (and hair and houses), a wide assortment of beach equipment, coolers and sunscreen, and an easy-going spirit.

We know going kayaking at high tide is good and a hurricane coming in on high tide and a full moon is bad.  We know summer's the time to hear laughing gulls go crazy and winter can be the best time to catch a mango-colored sunset.