“Times, they are a changin.” Azaleas in January and February? Yes, at least here in Charleston. We cannot keep it back. Like the rising sea levels, spring keeps on coming. Preston and I got married April 9, TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO this coming April! Our Silver Wedding Anniversary. I am such a lover of silver but I cannot think of A THING I need. When we got married in April, we had photos taken across the street from St. Philip’s in the grave yard because the azaleas were in full bloom. This is February, not March or April, and they are in bloom now! Consider the fig tree… Now the promoters of Charleston tourism do not want you to know this flower report because they are afraid you will cancel your plans for the spring tour season. Do not cancel. We will have plenty else in bloom then. I am just saying that you should come quick, NOW, if you can. You will have the Holy City (and me) to yourself! It is empty of visitors and is so beautiful, especially a treat not to be delayed for those in blizzard and freezing conditions up North and out West.
We have had nonstop rain, but now the sun is out, and the sky is a deep blue, illuminating what looked so gray, now transformed to brilliant colors. White By the Gate is my glorious, snowy white camellia in bloom in the back garden right by the back steps, so white it is an affront to all impurity. Our Old Charleston Carolina Gray brick wall has green moss appliqued by time on rose brick making that brick more than just building material. The very bricks have become saturated with emanations of heroism. What deeds of sacrifice and patient toil have gone into this city’s making and preservation! Charleston is a City Mellowed By Time, as captured by the Charleston Renaissance artist, Elizabeth O’Neill Verner. Once you get Charleston under your skin, she gets in your blood, bidding you to return, like a pilgrimage to refresh the soul and to set it in order, or as a lover with her siren call. As a vegetable lady street vender with her wheel barrow said who went away and then moved back,”Chas’n keep dem uda places from seemin natchel.” Ain’t it just the trute!
I discovered a new shop that I had only run past and noted before. It is hidden away on Burns Lane between Meeting and King, The Hidden Countship. It is actually owned by count and countess. (My brother’s Godson, Edward Scarborough, works there. His father and I sailed together on the sailing team at the College of Charleston, he the senior and i the lowly freshman.) The Count and Countess were in Savannah, leaving for Italy, when someone challenged them to come to Charleston saying they had not seen the South if they had not been here, and so close to Savannah. They delayed their return home a day, came to Charleston, and bought a house here the next day! They prefer Charleston to anywhere in Italy! Wow! No wonder Conde Naste voted the same way, with Charleston being the number one destination in The Whole Wide World! We are blessed beyond measure! A delightful retired Dartmouth professor, Dr.D’Lia, on my tour introduced me to this shop. It is filled with interesting things, new and old. I have a painting of an Italian villa, La Peggio, in an arch over my dining room door, which they have on their ad card.
For those who go on my Shop Till You Drop Antiques Tour, it is added! You can see my most recent purchase, a functional piece of equipment, an 18th century mahogany linen press. It is in the humble butler’s pantry, a room newly wallpapered along with my dining room in Fra Angelica’s glistening gold as in San Marco in Florence. The light has to be right in both places to capture it. I am using the linen press for storage of cookbooks and crystal and china, but also for additional counter space! The trays slide out, one inch high, so as to provide additional space to plate food when the marble counters are full of dishes. A practical piece it is, for me to enjoy using as well as regarding from the kitchen. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, the guests on my tour! I am enjoying the fruits of my labor.
If you cannot find an affordable place big enough, I have a vacation rental by owner in downtown Charleston some of you may wish to consider. It is booked for most of May but has openings for the last week of February and most of March. It is listed with Home Away # 5127820805, and VRBO #404882 as Charleston Tea Party Private Tour Launches Vacation Rental. I has 3 bedrooms, a living room, dining area, and a full kitchen, and two full baths. It sleeps up to 7. I have enjoyed furnishing it with vintage finds from Charleston antique shops and estate sales. It is not luxurious, but is easy, with a two car garage, unheard of in Charleston. It is within walking distance of Hominy Grill, a popular restaurant where you must have fried grits. It is better than it sounds! there is also a free trolley pick up a minute walk away to take you all over the historic city’s peninsula.
I love it when people can stay a week, not because I make more money, but because you get free nights if you stay past 4 days! I want you to come and experience what it is like to live here. My vacation rental is for those who make Charleston part of their spiritual renewal, what keeps them hanging on. Times they are a changin, but Charleston just improves, like a good rich wine. Come! Drink deeply! Call me for a tour or a stay or both at 843-577-5896–Laura Wichmann Hipp