It started to get hot here on the north shore of Long Island in May. So since May 29, I have been getting up at 4am to make a piece of toast, feed the cats, read Twitter, and head out the door for my 6-mile run.
Well, I actually hate to run (I haven’t had to move fast since I was 26 because I’m a grown up and nobody can make me do anything I don’t want to do because that’s the reward for getting old and getting closer to death) so let’s say that I go at a very fast walk.
No matter how stinking hot the day will become, the air at 4:30am is deliciously cool, and it’s a fine thing to be out in the pre-dawn and breathe in the light that miraculously turns the skies from black to heavenly blue. I highly recommend it.
On Wednesday of this week I did my early morning trot as usual, then I showered and did laundry and mopped the kitchen floor and it was while I was putting fresh clean sheets on the bed that I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to sleep right now?”
It was 9am. And since I’m the only boss of me (see above) I gave myself permission, right then and there, to give in to my latest whim. So that’s what I was doing last Wednesday, instead of blogging. I was sleeping the rest of the morning way, and having weird dreams (about Korean verbs, for one; and about being back in the Peace Corps in Africa, for two) and then I was laying in bed and watching Netflix on my iPad for most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. The To Do List police never caught on.
Self-indulgence. I highly recommend it.
The other exciting news is that we got our little Sputnik (“voyager”) back from its trans-America tour!
THE ROCK HAS LANDED.
The little rock from Stromness, Orkney has completed its journey of 8,465 miles across our United States and is sitting on my desk as I type this, making sure I tell the story of its last, great visit with one of our Dear Readers in the land of Carolina del Sud.
Curtesy of host and OG Dear One Maryanne from SC, The Rock has allowed me to quote from the letter it has written to the Scottish mum who awaits her little pebble’s return to the islands in the North Sea:
Greetings from the ridiculously hot, humid Palmetto State, South Carolina and its capital, Columbia. To say your boy misses Orkney’s cool breezes would be understatement.
It’s high COVID-19 season here, so I donned a mask and quarantined for a couple days with a fellow Scots rock, a wee lad from Dunbar Close in Edinburgh. It was good to catch up wi’ someone from home.
Then I was ready to see the sights.
First, a shot of me in a palmetto tree. South Carolina, after all, is called the Palmetto State.
The palmetto+crescent design became South Carolina’s flag in April 1861, just in time to be flown over Fort Sumter, the day it fell to the Confederate Army.
Mum, compared to our Scottish history, South Carolina is not very old, and Columbia’s a very, very young city, a mere 234 years.
This is Columbia’s Main Street, as seen from the steps of the State House. See the soldier statue ahead of me? He’s looking to the north, watchful should the Union troops return. 155 years later and so far, so good.
Aye, the past is still very present in Columbia. The place where all the Confederacy’s money was printed is now the downtown Publix supermarket. A large cotton mill, first of its kind to run on electricity, is now the SC State Museum. Here’s one of its most historic sites, the First Baptist Church built in 1859 (below).
Or as you’d say, “recently.”
Who would guess that this ordinary red brick church was the place where the Articles of Secession were drafted on December 17, 1860? Three days later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, effectively starting the Civil War.
So-o-o, in 1865 when General William Tecumseh Sherman’s scouts entered the city, First Baptist was high on their list of “Places To Visit.”
The church leaders knew that too, and carefully removed all signage from the building’s exterior. When the soldiers arrived to torch the perfidious site, helpful citizens directed them instead to the utterly innocent Washington Street Methodist church, a block away.
(See me in the lower right?)
Columbia has been a way station for several notable American painters. Your fave, mum, Georgia O’Keeffe, taught drawing at Columbia College, and Jasper Johns lived here for a long while. But the artist most identified with contemporary Columbia is a guy named Blue Sky. This is his most famous work, a downtown mural called Tunnelvision.
There are several other Blue Sky murals and sculptures around town, but I really liked the gigantic Busted Plug, his tribute to his firefighter father:
(Can ye see me perched on the sign in front of the Plug? Again, just a wee blue dot…)
Another Columbia claim to fame: Hootie & the Blowfish. The band formed here in the late 1980s when the guys were students at the University of South Carolina, playing in bars in the Five Points neighborhood.
(Again, see me? I shinnied up the street sign pole to get close as I could to their honorary street sign.)
Columbia is also the site of the South Carolina State Fair each October, attended by thousands. If you wanted to meet up with your mates, you tell ‘em “Meet me at the rocket.”
I could go on, but I’m weary and looking forward to getting home to Orkney and seeing you.
Oh, one last selfie.
In Scotland, we tend to not make puns in Spanish, but trust me, mum, this is very funny:
Although Spanglish is a touchy subject here in America:
See you soon, Mum!
I want to thank all the lovely hosts who showed The Rock From Stromness outstanding hospitality these past months. There is a little reward for all of you who did the hard work of showing The Rock the sites of the Northeast (Massachusettes and New Jersey), the MidWest (Michigan, Michigan, and Wisconsin), the Great Pacific Great Northwest (Washington and Oregon), the West Coast (California), the Cowboy Empire (Texas), the Deep South (Florida), and the Genteel South (South Carolina). Check here next Friday for details.
In the meantime, as Maryanne from SC says:
New Yorkers painting BLACK LIVES MATTER on 5th Ave in front of Trump tower:
Next up: Renaming that block of 5th Ave “Obama Way”
In Cute News: The Animal Defense League of Texas took some of its shelter cats to the San Antonio Zoo to publicize both organizations while they are closed during the pandemic, although shelter animals are still available for adoption and the zoo is open for donations:
And here’s some photos of people and their dogs, as puppers and as doggos:
Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.
Tropical Storm Fay is scheduled to slam into New York later today (Friday, July 10) so YAY!! We’re having a Hurricane Party tonight!
And, of course: