Tag Archives: lowcountry

Why I love Rainy Days

Today was a rainy day in Charleston. But I didn’t mind.

I love rainy days.

Its a good thing because we get a lot of rain in the Lowcountry.

Here are some of the reasons why I love rainy days.

Catching up on some old-school letter-writing in celebration of the last day of National Letter Writing Month

Catching up on some old-school letter writing in celebration of the last day of National Letter Writing Month

Charleston is known for it's flooding problems especially in the area around my daughter's school. Getting around town in the rain can be a challenge but fun!

Charleston is known for it’s flooding problems especially in the area around my daughter’s school. Getting around town in the rain can be a challenge but fun!

April showers bring May flowers. And I love any opportunity to wear my Hunter boots and pink trench coat!

April showers bring May flowers. And I love any opportunity to wear my Hunter boots and pink trench coat!

Sunday afternoon essentials

An afternoon in to read, relax and get some puppy love.

How do you spend a rainy day?

Hopelessly in Love with Spring

 

Charleston Spring, Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” –George Santayana

This may be true, but after these last few months of cold, I cannot help myself.

Welcome Spring.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina, I know that I have nothing to really complain about concerning winter. But even here we have had an unusually rough time of it. I also realize that by June, I will already tired of the 90+ degrees days.

But right now I have to believe in the promise of forsythia and dogwood and wisteria. As the sun warms my bones, I stretch and settle in like a cat napping in the sunlight.

Our Home for the Holidays

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

Whew! I have finally gotten my home decorated for Christmas. It has been a long process this year, for a number of reasons, but at least this part of the preparations is finished. I wasn’t too bothered by the delay since we will be at home for the holidays. Yaay!

This box sat in my entry hall for almost a week.

Box of Christmas Decorations (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

A “display” of Christmas decorations waiting to be placed.

I love vintage-style ornaments and decorations.

Tiny Ornaments

Tinsel

Little Tree Decorated Several of my favorite ornaments survived from my childhood like this Santa. I guess it actually is vintage.

Does that mean that I’m vintage?

Childhood Santa Ornament

Air Stream Christmas Pillow I love the idea of air stream trailers but I’m not sure living in one in the snow would be quite as cozy as this pillow suggests.

My real passion is tartan (and not just for Christmas decorations). I suppose it has something to do with my Scottish ancestry but, whatever the reason, I am mad for plaid as is evidenced here.

Tartan Bagpiper Nutcracker

Springer Spaniel with Tartan Boxes

Kilt Figurine

Tartan and Greens

Tartan Santa with Sheep

My new favorite Christmas decoration is the “Joy” banner my friend Elisabeth Hunter made for me–tartan fabric, of course. She is one of the few people who truly gets my obsession for all things tartan.

Mantle with Greens, Candles and Joys

Mantle with greens, candles and tartan joy

Joy Upclose

Joy up close

You will notice in the creche below that the baby Jesus is not included. He won’t make his debut until Christmas morning. We also don’t place the three wise men at the manger until Epiphany on January 6th. We move them around the house to symbolize their journey to the Christ child. I included them in this photo because it looked too sparse without them.

Nativity

Bowl full of ornaments

One of our most treasured items for Christmas is the Advent stockings I made for my daughter when she was two years old.

Handmade Advent stockings hanging

Handmade Advent stockings hanging

Handmade Advent stockings up close

Small additions and repairs have been made over the years.

Throughout the year I find little things to put in each stocking. I also include a Bible verse. Even at 17, my daughter still loves the tradition of opening one stocking each morning for the 24 days leading up to Christmas.

Handmade Advent stocking

Somehow I even managed to decorate the front porch this year.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Photo by Amy Watson Smith, December 2013)

Wellies with Greens Pine Cones in Galvanized Tub

Santa Please Stop Here

“Santa please stop at my house”

This wreath is made from preserved boxwood. I bought mine locally for Christmas 2012 and it is still just as lovely. Click here if you want to learn how to preserve boxwood.

Boxwood Wreath and Tartan Bow

Now that the decorating is done, I have to finish my shopping, start baking and wrap all of my presents . . . .

Oh, and maybe I will make some time for this as well.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

What are your favorite decorations and traditions for Christmas?

Wishing you a joyous and peaceful Christmas!

Angels we have heard on high

G L O R I A

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprised by Subtlety: 4 Ways I Have Learned to Embrace Change

Lowcountry fall leaves

Autumn in coastal South Carolina is subtle. We don’t get much of the showy reds and oranges and yellows that one thinks of in the fall. We mainly have evergreen trees and plants in the lowcountry: live oaks, pines, palmettos, wax myrtles, loquat and holly. And the dramatic temperature changes can be a bit tricky: hot and humid one day, cool and crisp the next.

When I first moved to Charleston almost 20 years ago from the mid-Atlantic and New England regions, I would have said that Charleston didn’t have an autumn. I desperately missed the traditional fall foliage (though not the cold and snowy winters).

But I wasn’t seeing what was right before my eyes as I drove across the many bridges spanning the region’s salt marshes. I was overlooking the obvious: the subtle changes in color of the Spartina marsh grass from springtime chartreuse to the brown and amber of the fall. Even though I hadn’t noticed the beauty of this season, change was taking place all around me.

Twilight autumn marsh view

Sunset over the salt marsh, Isle of Palms connector, South Carolina (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

 

Sweetgrass turned purple

South Carolina sweet grass turns a lovely shade of purple in autumn (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

I began to wonder what other changes I had not noticed because of subtlety and my inattention.

Learning to open my eyes and mind to change. 

I am not particularly comfortable with change–particularly change that surprises me. I suppose that I should not be surprised when things in life do not go according to my plans. Change is happening continually.

But when I am feeling secure in a particular season of life, I somehow I convince myself that everything will stay as it is: children won’t get older, parents won’t get ill, jobs won’t end, . . . . This isn’t a very useful or realistic attitude to take. Looking at the list I realize that it’s a pretty negative view of things. I need to change my perspective and come to terms with the notion that change is a given. But not all change is a bad thing.

Learning to pay attention to the details.

Once I have learned to open my eyes to change, I can begin to see the small, incremental alterations that often lead to the big changes in life.

Lowcountry grasses

This field of grass appeared just dull brown from a distance but upon closer inspection I noticed green living grass peppering the field of dried grasses. (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Lowcountry autumn

When my daughter was eight-and-a-half months old, she took her first steps. I was surprised because she did not go through the regular developmental progression of crawling before walking. She went directly from sitting to walking–or at least that is how it seemed. But there were indications that change was happening all along as she pulled herself up to a standing position and began cruising the furniture (at 8 months-yikes!). I must have realized this on a subconscious level because my husband and I knew it was time to move from our tiny downtown Charleston 19th century kitchen house to something with a bit more floor space.

For me documenting the details around me is how I am learning to pay attention. Writing about my life and photographing the world around me helps me to notice the details and the small changes taking place around me.

Learning to see the bigger picture.

Sometimes, though, I can get so caught up in the details that I forget to take a long view of things. It’s a case of the proverbial “not seeing the forest for the trees.” This happens to me creatively quite often when I get so caught up in the minutia of a project I am working on that I forget to step back to see where this particular element fits into the whole.

Lowcountry marsh in autumn

Fall sunset on Isle of Palms Connector

I am learning to see the bigger picture of particular seasons of my life by looking back and by looking ahead. I try to place this season on the time line of my life (yes, a literal time line) and am able to see that what seems like an interminable period may in reality be only a blip.

I am learning to see connections of a particular season of my life to a past event or time as well as trying to anticipate consequences in the future. I am looking for God’s hand in my life to see what he may doing to shape and form me. I am trying to learn from the difficult times and the easy times.

Learning to embrace the season I am in.

This may be the toughest part of it all. Complaining comes far too easily to me.

I used to tell the girls in my Girl Scout troop, “You get what you get, so don’t throw a fit.” I need to remind myself of this when I lash out and cry to God, “This isn’t fair!”

I’m not suggesting that we don’t have any control over things in our lives so just sit back and take it. Not at all. I am saying that sometimes we find ourselves in a place that is hard or painful perhaps because of something we have done or someone or something else has caused the situation. It may not be fair. It may not be fun. It may be very, very hard.

Lowcountry autumn afternoon

Learning to embrace the season I am in (Photo by Amy Watson Smith)

Now what if I open my eyes and heart to gratitude? What is it in this situation that I can be thankful for? Where can I see the goodness of God? What can I learn? How can I thank Him in this hard season?

The only way I know to do this difficult step is capture it–embrace it–document it.

Do you have a way of embracing the season you are in? How do you respond to change?

 

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days

Fall is in the air…achoo

Fall is in the air…achoo.

Welcome to Charleston, South Carolina. Folks around here know that fall is nothing to sneeze at.

pumpkins

If you live in another part of the country you are probably wondering why I inserted the phrase “achoo.”

You probably associate autumn with leaves turning to flaming orange and yellow and red, crisp, sweet apples, a chill in the air, the smell of wood smoke…

apples

 

But if you live in Charleston or some other warm regions of the country, you know exactly to what I am referring. Achoo…scratch, scratch…ragweed.

I spent the better part of yesterday sneezing and scratching my face and arms and neck. It’s really tricky when the palms of your hands and the bottoms of your feet start itching but I have perfected my method of scratching without tickling. It is a fine balance, my friend.

I took an antihistamine which helped with the itching but, of course, made me groggy and more muddle-minded than usual. Looking at the pollen forecast for the rest of the week, I moaned. Yesterday was considered only moderately high. The next few days promise to be even worse. Tissues and antihistamine in hand, I went to bed last night determined to get in front of the itching and sneezing. I am happy to report that my plan has worked so far. I am virtually itch- and sneeze-free this morning! Apparently allergy management is much like pain management. You have to stay ahead of the pain/sneeze.

My daughter suffers from the same allergic reactions but not everyone in my household/family does. To these non-sufferers I suspect we seem somewhat weak in character. I probably react in a similar way with some of their ailments.

I suppose the saying is a good one to remember: never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their nose…I mean shoes.

Happy fall!