There is not a better form of escape that comes to mind than other getting in the car with a friend,food, music, and having no one expect you at a certain place and a particular time.If an old water tower signals the location of a forgotten town, you are free to explore. If peeling paint and falling trim catch your eye, you investigate. Driving as far as you want and stopping for no real reason is expected. Curiosity reigns and the mantra is “No Maps, Just Drive”.The long, crazy school year vanishes after the first mile markers. I actually cleaned out my CRV, got new tires and am ready to put on miles! Tomorrow we are heading across Tennessee out towards Asheville, North Carolina, and excited about the opportunities to make discoveries. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some new adventure in a week or so.
An old two story farmhouse sits along the roadside in central Florida. At one time, it must have been quite a home , the clues are in the ornate trim and that it has two stories.Caged behind a barbed wire fence, it cries out to be preserved. I dressed it in spring colors to help its appeal. I’d love to peek behind its shuttered windows and learn more of its story.
Many might choose Paris or Istanbul as a runaway destination. Having only a few hours on a Sunday afternoon and an expired passport eliminated those possibilities. Instead, Memorials Park Cemetery was my destination, a road trip of about eight miles.The cemetery is home to the Crystal Grotto and its fantasy shaped structures.I chose my infrared camera because it would accentuate the otherworldly feel . I viewed the cave and tree as imaginary housing, fit for visiting sprites or hobbits.
The faux bois structures suit the park well and it’s hard to believe they are cement.A folk artist from Mexico, Dionicio Rodriguez created the vision from his imagination. Hired by the cemetery’s founder, Clovis Hinds, Rodriguez earned $75.00 per week over a ten year period during the Depression. His creations are dream – like and religiously significant.
Working in steel and copper to form supports, the structures were formed in cement over wire. Using his hands, twigs and dinner utensils for tools, he simulated wood structures that suggest fairies and woodland creatures.Calling his work, “el trabajo rustic”, Rodriguez built Abraham’s Oak that towers 15 feet tall and 9 feet in diameter.
There is the Cave of Machpelah which is named for a burial cave from the Holy Land. The reflecting pool is the Pool of Hebron, and the Grotto appears as a mountain shaped form which houses the crystal cave. All are entirely hand-built. Walking into the cave you are stunned to find formations of limestone, rock quartz crystal and cement forming backgrounds for murals of scenes of the life of Jesus.
The artwork and grotto are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mentally moving into the imaginative structures provided a needed break. I returned home energized and without expense or jet lag.
Our history is written on the walls of our buildings – not prophecy or graffiti, just the remnants of signs that came before.Most of us don’t know where our eggs or poultry come from. Most of us no longer need to purchase feed or stable our horses in town. Prohibition’s repeal took place many years ago, but these reminders of our past still exist, but only when we notice.
I’m really not a ghoul, but I do have a strong fascination for old cemeteries. Whenever we travel, I’m on the lookout for old burial grounds. I can’t resist the stories and always find unusual carvings or monuments. Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina is an especially interesting one. The setting features a lake, huge trees laced in Spanish moss, and abundant wildlife. Birds and small animals wander freely. Many Civil War soldiers, as well as the crew of the Hunley submarine, keep company with the city’s founding families . The delicate ironwork fences and ornate gates made me think about using their designs in a quilt. (But that’s another post.) The pyramid captured my imagination and with the shadowing palm trees, I could almost believe I’d been transported to Egypt.
The Gullah women of South Carolina have perfected the art of sweetgrass basket-making, a traditional craft first developed in Africa. The tradition thrives today in the hands of women who weave these baskets using the same methods and materials. Along a highway appropriately named Sweetgrass Highway, their baskets are for sale along with their stories. I bought a middle – sized one with an edge called elephant ears or roller coaster. It has bands of pine needles to add colors, is signed by the artist and smells wonderful.These baskets on display in the afternoon sun made me think about how much I miss it when I’m not making things and how wonderful it would be to pass on this kind of tradition. Note to self -get busy!
A jar of found pieces in the window caught my eye. I loved that the shop owners cared enough about the remains under their corner of Charleston to display them. It’s these fragments of those who passed before us, and even from our earlier life that makes us who we are. As a magpie, I’m always collecting little pieces that catch my eye. Shells, rocks,charms, wrappers, letters, metal, all find their way into my hands and collections. I think this year is a good time to gather them together and display them to honor those fragments of memory. Using an old glass jar would be a great beginning and I certainly have many of those. I know there are shard lamps, plaques, and vases, but I think they’d be happier without glue or cement holding them static.Any suggestions?
Day 3 on the road. Most people probably don’t jump in the car to find a place of stillness, but new sights and people help to do that for me. I hope in this season of crazy, that you find those moments to appreciate and just breathe.
Sometimes you just need to start moving. Stand in one place and rust starts to creep in – into your thinking and you begin to still your senses until you find yourself frozen in attitude . So I’m off on a road trip. Hopefully the person who returns will be a bit more flexible and inspired. For the next two weeks, my posts will be more sporadic because of internet connections. If I’m late with a comment, it still matters to me and I will respond. Thank you for helping me to connect with so many wonderful new friends.