Court Square is getting quiet and dark, I've anointed my head with oil, (literally) wrapped it, the granola is baking, an hour of bread and butter writing is consumed and this Charleston blog post is (finally) happening.
Every time I've thought of writing about this day trip an overwhelming feeling would sweep over me and I'd feel powerless to write about a day that felt like golden perfection. Of course, narrowing down a selection of pictures from 250 gorgeous shots isn't all that easy either, but as the charming Gretta from Grettagraphy (who has blogged about the day here) and Cheryl Danae have graciously consented to allow me to use their shots I shall dig in and try, on both counts.
May I just say that putting makeup on for a long day at 4 am in the morning is miserable? There isn't anything like it. Body, mind and eyes are rebelling against anti-gravity and the idea of adding tasteful highlights and shadows to a face that hasn't been communicating with a pillow for more than two hours is distasteful when your eyes barely focus and all you see is a bleary face.
But for a day trip to Charleston one can put up with a great deal, and so on went the makeup, the day clothes, the pins, the hats, the shoes and for a final touch, light sweaters and jackets because even April in the south can feel a mite chilly. Five girls piled into a civic coupe at 4:45 a.m and 4 hours of driving began, that I might add, most of us spent sleeping in whatever inches we had to get comfortable. Cheryl drove, bless her heart, and got us to Charleston in good time where we fiddled our way into the city and headed straight for the heart to begin with breakfast.
We began at a little French pastry shop at 90 Society St, called Christophe Artisan Chocolatier, and as Briana, Gretta and Amy had been there before Cheryl and I took recommendations and eyed everything with famished eyes. Uppermost in my head was coffee because I really had no idea how to survive the day without it. Already the determined effects of exhaustion, adrenaline and a headache were creeping around the edges of consciousness and somehow coffee seemed like a magic elixir to "lighten the step and bring hope to the human heart." I had looked forward to this day for months, and so help me coffee, I was going to enjoy it!
The coffee was excellent, and I drank it black, which is the greatest compliment to be paid to coffee. To accompany it we bought baguettes, croissants, canelé (a small pastry with a soft and tender custard center and dark, caramelized crust) and tarts. We took our collected refinements and went to the upper floor where there were little tables and soft chairs arranged tastefully in a simple neutral room. Probably because we were all running on about 2-5 hours of sleep everything seemed twice as amusing, though for love nor money I wouldn't be able to remember what we talked about. I'll just always remember what stands out is the laughter of girls in a too-warm room in an upper room in Charleston. It turns out, it was a good start.
Loitering outside the pastry shop, and the mood prevailed.
When there is a whole day in Charleston there just isn't enough time to loiter as much as one likes and after we shopped out the time on our meter we decided it was time to drive the half hour to Magnolia Plantation before the day got really warm and headed out toward the plantation district to find the place. We found it ok, and didn't so much as make it in the lane before the car stopped and the pictures began. How could we not?
The bayou seemed so sleepy, and I was delighted to see Spanish moss draping over every available airy surface. When I was younger I would always read about Spanish moss and it seemed like it must be exquisitely beautiful. It was beautiful, and it's probably even more so by moonlight, mysteriously beautiful perhaps.
Thus began the tour of Magnolia Plantation. It wasn't difficult to see why it took dozens upon dozens of slaves to maintain operations on a farm that size. The place seemed to hold all the old memories of old days, that is when one could find a spot to focus that wasn't inhabited by tourists. I could practically see the cotton, the silks, the whisper of fineness and finality, the stark contrast between the cool veranda of the house and the hot, hot fields. The soft drawl of the southern belle next to a sharp crack of the whip of slavery. Though I know slavery has been part of cultures before and still is now, there is not one part of me that can condone the thought of it. The idea of man being presumptuous enough to take a man's free will and bind it when even God will not, seems blasphemy.
But at the same time, the south was not defined only by it's system, as the north will persist in believing. The south stands for good, and for beauty, for tenaciousness, and for the strong ties of family and loyalty that produced heroic men and gentlewomen. Of all the bad that has been said, there is even so much more good in the resting heartbeat of the south.
There is something gracious about white by day, but by this time the sun was intense, so when we saw the shady paths, off we went.
Somewhere between the rambling and picture-taking we stumbled onto a little greenhouse and if we thought outside was warm, inside was jacked up several notches. It was lush green, the air was wealthy in oxygen and we hung out awhile.
There was much more to see.
It has come to my attention that there is not a chance that I can finish writing about Charleston in one blog post, so please follow me into part II, and perhaps part III. Court square is now completely dark, the granola burnt, I am yawning, and this shall resume another day... soon.
Thanks for joining Golden Charleston || Part 1. All photos unless otherwise denoted are by Gretta Coates, photographer at Grettagraphy.