Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 Greenwood State Park: Terra Emeralda

There is just a short nature trail here, a loop behind camp ground number 1.  It is raining and warm as I enter a green world.   Emerald, sage, vert, verdigris, malachite, beryl, aquamarine, chartreuse, lime, kelly, olive, Mittler's green, Prussian green, bronze green, Lincoln green,yellow green, grass green, forest green, spinach green, moss green, pine green, Nile green, jade, viridian.  I am in Terra Emeralda, the trees fleshed out with new leaves, the ground covered with new green muscadine vines.  The light filtered through the dark clouds illuminates this verdant world.  I search the roots of fallen trees for arrowheads and find only a large brown frog.  I can imagine the early settlers of the town of Greenwood naming this place "green wood".

The birds sing:  jeepers, jeepers, jimmy, jimmy, leave her, leave her, we do it, we do it, like the motto of the CCC who built the structures in 1938, "We can take it".  There is a small fishing pier with names carved on its rails: " Aika, Jason, Zornies were here." Picnic tables are nearby.  The lake is as green as the woods.

I visit the Drummond Center and the Ranger takes me to open the doors onto the stone terrace and an astonishing view of the lake.  The is a small photographic museum here devoted to the State Parks, the CCC and the people who had lived on the land as share croppers or owners.

I came up from Columbia on I-26 West, took exit 74 onto highway 34 through Newberry and continued 25 miles over Bush River, Beaver Dam Creek, Little River and the green Saluda.  There are blue, purple, pink and white ragged robins in the fields, red clover, then through the little town of Silver Street and took a right on hwy 702, then two miles to the park.  Near the entrance, there is a "Grand Daddy Greybeard" in full bloom, dripping a beard of white blossoms.

Leaving, I continued on 702 until I saw a sign that said a Piggley Wiggley was 3 miles down  Wilson Bridge Road on a sharp left.  Turned left on Cambridge Road which took me immediately to the Piggley Wiggley in the town of Ninety Six. Here I visited   the D and L Flower Shop in an old building, next door to Linda's Then Again and in front of Hairidice Styling Salon.

I went back on Cambridge Rd (246) until I met hwy 72 which took me through the edge of Greenwood and over the lake.  I had lunch looking out over the water at the Subway in the Sunoco Gas Station, the best Subway view in the world, where a man sailed up in his small boat, cut off his Evinrude and mounted the steps to the Subway (just like driving up in a car) and got his bag lunch to go back into the boat.

Hwy 72 continues on to Clinton where I took Hwy 56 which crosses I-26 again.  The sun is breaking out though the big white clouds as I arrive home.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 12, 2015 Woodruff Greenway , Wild Pink Dogwood and Poke Salat

I am driving 221 (Church St. in Spartanburg, Main St in Woodruff) listening to Jose Feliciano playing and singing "You Were Always on My Mind" from his new album, "The King".

Past dogwoods and violet wisteria, 221 joins 146 when you bear to the left after the old downtown.   All is quiet as the good people of Woodruff are all at their places of worship in the early dawn. Turn left at the Baptist Church. On the right is the high school, then on the left is the Junior High.  There is no sign, no indication of the trail, so drive into the far end of the parking lot and walk down to the Theo Atheletic field.
Behind the bleachers the trail goes downhill to a series of two bridges over a clear stream.
Violets and ferns grow on the banks.

River birches stand tall. Out in the hardwood forest, stands a wild pink dogwood, the first wild pink one I have ever seen.  My mother said  long ago, my grandfather had found one out in the woods down home and tagged it with a red strip of cloth to dig it up in the Fall, but someone else got it first.

The tender green shoots of Poke Salat are spouting up near fallen logs.

The trail is an out and back just under a mile long. It ends (or begins) at the Woodruff Leisure Center where I meet a Dad and his two boys who tell me that this lovely walk is nearly always deserted. There is a plan to extend this trail.

If you follow 146 West, you will eventually leave the old small town and in about 20 minutes, find yourself in the cosmopolitan crash of the big shopping venue of Greenville.  Out of the past and into the future.

Poke Salat Annie by Tony Joe White:

"If some of yall.......
Down in Louisanna where the alligators grow so mean
There lived a girl that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame
Poke salat Annie, Poke salat Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was working on the chain gang
(a mean, vicious woman)
Everyday 'fore supppertime she'd go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess of Poke salat
And carry it home in a tote sack.
Poke salat Annie, 'Gators got you Granny
Everybody said it was a shame..
Cause her mama was working on the chain gang.
Lord have mercy, pick a mess of it...
Her daddy was lazy and no count,
Claimed he had a bad back.
All her brothers were fit for was stealin
Watermelons out of my truck patch
Sock a little Poke salat to me, you know I need it.
Poke salat Annie.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 29, 2015 Prayer Flags in Tryon, NC

High above the main street through Tryon, multicolored prayer flags are sending their mantras on the breath of the Wind Horse across the escarpment of the Appalachian Mountains. Garuda (Wisdom), Dragon (Strength), Tiger (Confidence) and Snow Lion (  Joy  ) printed on the flags symbolize the five virtues of Tibetan philosophy.

But no, the flags are men's neckties and the Wind Horse is "Morris the Horse", a giant painted white replica of a nursery toy on the corner of Pacolet Street.  Turn here and then turn left onto one way narrow Chestnut street and on the right is the parking lot for Woodland Park.

Trillium spouts up by the first wooden bridge. Bloodroot and a tiny yellow flower bloom along the path.
Blue periwinkle covers the ground.  This is a short and beautiful trail winding along a rock stream with a small waterfall.

Behind a fallen log, someone has recently left their cache of Yuengling Lager.

At the foot of the hill is a Dollar General where I buy tiny toys to put in plastic eggs for Zack and Shane.
A woman in the store tells me that her cat ran off with a raccoon. "They are friends," she says.

This is the town where my father lived perhaps eighty years ago, managing a hosiery mill for Abraham Feinberg, president then of Fruit of the Loom.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 24, 2015 Holly and Laurel Where There Was Murder and Mayhem

I have walked today along the aged stone parapet of the first South Carolina Prison, built in 1866.  It was demolished several years ago and what remains is a tall wall of great rustic granite blocks rising above the Columbia Canal and the Congaree River.  There is a grassy open field lined with benches high over the waters and on the other side more granite blocks lining the walk.  In the middle of the grassy field is a series of five fountains built into a stone basin, gurgling up into the Spring air.

It is a short stroll from here to the Vista, a repurposed old down town neighborhood of art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and businesses.

Or you can go down a series of steps beside the old brick facade of the prison (someone has written in paint:
"Trust No Hoes") to the Canal Riverfront Park.  Here there are Hollies and Laurel and  many crape myrtles planted in memory of loved ones.  Jasmine, the State flower,  and azaleas are blooming.

There is something about the huge granite slabs that held the prisoners in, that is redolent of the dark deeds that brought men here and of the dark deeds housed within.

March 21, 2015 Tadpoles in the Wetlands

Yes, Spring came yesterday at 6:00 pm.

The birds are calling:

"zuccinni, , zucinni, zucinni"

"speak to her, speak to her, speak to her"

Yoshina cherry trees are in full bloom, little purple violets burst from the grass.

There are hundreds of tadpoles in the wetlands. They have three pairs of gills, no eyelids, a long body and tail with dorsal fin.

They are telling us about metamorphosis, the power of change and coming of age.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 17, 2015 Columbia Canal, the Grave of the Leetmen

Below the path by the canal lie the bones of the indentured Irishmen who built this canal in 1820.  They lie in the earth without a stone, without a name. They came from a cold country and many perished from the heat or died of disease endemic to this region.  Those who died were buried in this very bank where runners and walkers, strollers with babies and bike riders exercise in the warm breath of early Spring.  Those who survived established a village called "Little Dublin" near where the Campus of the University of South Carolina exists today and from which many of their descendants have graduated.

Today their monument is draped with a green wreath.  "Ar Dheis  Go Raibh Anamach Na Marbh", May They Rest on the Right Hand of God.

The white clouds of Bradford Pear trees billow gently. The arms of purple Red Buds reach out from the woods.  From a distance there is a pale green and pink glow from the forests.

The full tilt boogie band of Spring is tuning up.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 15, 2015 Bloodroot at Pearson's Falls

The tiny white flower of the bloodroot is blooming along the stone stepped path up the mountain by Colt Creek to Pearson's Falls.  Colt Creek falls in three steep tiers and flows down down down to the Pacolet. The air is filled with the cool clean breath of water. There is a woman photographing the leaves of the yet to bloom Oconee Bell springing up from a crag in the rocks.  This silver shine clear day of 76 degrees has blossomed out of the cold and muck of winter.  I talk with a family of Romanian immigrants sitting on a bench near the highest viewing place just over the Ethel James Chase stone bridge built by her sons and grandson.  A young couple is lying side by side on a smooth rock.  It is a short walk of only a quarter mile up. There are restrooms and picnic tables.  There is a $5.00 entrance fee for adults used to keep up the 268 acre sanctuary by the Tryon Garden Club.

In the parking lot are cars from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Florida, North and South Carolina.  A woman in a car with Connecticut plates stops by me and tells me "I just had to get out of the snow.  I booked a room in Saluda and drove down for a week." She tells me that the New Haven St. Pat's Parade is postponed due to the flooding produced by melting snow in the streets.

The Palmetto Trail Head is nearby.

I came up by taking Hwy 108 West from Columbus, NC , turning onto Harmon Field Road where I see a horse event going on and where a Barbeque Festival is held each Spring.  From here Hwy 176 leads to a left for Pearson's Falls Road.

Leaving the park, I continue 3 miles up the winding hwy 176 into the small town of Saluda, NC.  The cozy main street is lined with antique stores and restaurants where there is often live music.  Honking Tonkers Gallery featuring bakery and chocolates, Thompson Grocery, the Purple Onion, the Saluda Grade Cafe.
I come out of the "Somewhere in Time" store of Pace General Store with a yellow and violet frayed quilt, so soft and comforting.

There is an easier way to leave here for home. I go back East on 176 and turn left onto Ozone Road and shortly reach I-26 and the sharp incline down the Saluda Grade where it is possible to see for miles across the flat plain laid out in front of you.  WNCW public radio from Isothermal Community College is wafting the mountain music of fiddles and banjos across the airwaves, the wild old mountain songs of love and murder.
My heart is pounding with the beat as I pass by Lake Bowen whose furled waters are bright and glimmering in the late afternoon light, then home again where the first Japanese Magnolias are opening their pink and mauve blossoms.