S.C. Offers Its Own Variety Vactionland
A cicada-killing wasp, a belted kingfisher and a moon snail dining on bivalves — that’s how my vacation began. It ended with sad farewells at a friend’s coastal second home.
Elaine Freeman and I were unable to take our usual excursion to distant climes this summer, and she proposed a substitute: several days with friends in South Carolina.
Her generous offer opened with an outdoor lecture by naturalist Rudy Mancke on the University of South Carolina campus. Rudy provides both education and entertainment on our NatureScene travels, the trip we didn’t take this year.
That afternoon, Elaine whisked me off to the state natural history museum, where we viewed an exhibit of artwork by “Un-common Folks.” On exhibit was everything from sculptures crafted of recycled wire and native sweetgrass baskets to the more traditional oils and acrylics.
We spent the night with another friend, Lynn Williams, whom I first met several years ago on a “Christmas with Mozart” tour in Europe. Lynn joined us a day later at Elaine’s home at DeBordieu.
Legend has it that the elegant gated community gained its name from a quote attributed to the Marquis de Lafayette, who likened its beauty to the “borderland of God.” Southern accents and the Gullah influence now pronounce the name as “Debidue.”
Her two-story lakeside home is best described as a residential art gallery, replete with works by regional artists and collections from abroad. The pool was delightful, but we didn’t spend all our time lolling poolside.
Elaine had excursions planned. We took the boat ride into the former rice plantation country at Brookgreen Gardens, then returned later to the gardens to enjoy the lush blossoms and the extensive collection of exquisite statuary from around the world. One of the gardens is dedicated in memory of her husband.
Charleston was our destination a day later. We drove through the historic downtown and dined at a gourmet restaurant. However, the purpose of our trip was the state aquarium, a delightfully eclectic introduction to sea life from mountains to sea. We ogled colorful fish in all sizes, stingrays, otters, seahorses, water birds, sharks, jellyfish and a rare albino alligator.
Back at DeBordieu, Elaine packed us all, including both pups, into her Ruff and Tuff electric cart for a ride along a wooded path. Young wild turkeys crossed our path. We saw white-tailed deer resting on the bank and a couple of alligators, their heads skimming water surface. The golf course has alligator crossings.
Now, for food. Elaine knows the best places to buy seafood and fresh produce, and we polished off two pounds of the most succulent shrimp, along with ripe tomatoes and cucumbers. One night, Lynn produced a mouth-watering squash casserole and fried okra.
On another evening, Elaine treated us to dinner at the Beach Club, where we ate more fresh seafood beside a window overlooking the wave-tossed beach. We had cocktails, then offed a bottle of fine wine — three widow ladies enjoying a night out.
We enjoyed dinner one night on the second-floor screened porch. Our dinner music was an enticing symphony of night sounds.
The visit afforded an inside look at South Carolina politics. Elaine and Lynn cheered when the GOP-controlled legislature overrode Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s line item vetoes of budgets affecting their favorite arts programs.
Returning home Saturday, I enjoyed the smug satisfaction of driving against the tide of bumper-to-bumper beach-bound traffic. I had the road inland all to myself.
It gave me time to marvel at the beauty and gracious ways of our sister state.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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