Impressionism and Realism Anchored in the Ashepoo River

Gorgeous, breezy, 80 degrees more humid.

This trip has been interwoven with both.

We’ve spent a lot of time (or at least it felt that way) on US 95. Interstate speeds leave broad brush strokes and smears of color for ones mind to meld into a series of scenes.

Out loud, we would say, “this reminds me of…” And we saw a lot of places that did remind us of others.  Partly it was because we didn’t slow down to see the differences and partly the coastal US — NC-SC-GA-northern FL and west to Beaumont TX– does look a lot alike.

The Coastal Southeast is a biome with subtle textural differences defined more by the rivers that sluice or slice through it and the tides that nibble and gnaw it than anything else.  Both are only seen in broad strokes and pointils frequently blurred by the “tunnel vision” of driving amongst those for whom 70 isn’t fast enough, turn signals are options, and back bumper intimidation are the only rule of law they know. Cracker Barrel signs seem to be the impressionist’s cartouche.

Afloat the style shifts.  Certainly underway on the water the need to focus is there; problems can evolve very quickly on the water, but not 70 mph quickly.  Here, there truly is time to kiss your… Well I diverge.

The early trip south, fleeing the cold as we were, was more “real” than I-95, but tends to blur into broad strokes of cold-wet-very cold-very wet…somewhat the way a bad dental experience blurs.

From Jacksonville south and now on our return we shifted to shorter travel days and more days in one place.  Now the rich realism of traveling this way emerged. It helps that colors are becoming more numerous, bright blue skies replaced gray wet ones, and temps have become, well, humane.

Beyond that, though, is the seeing has changed. Instead of “oh, look” and zoom, we now spend time — real time — absorbing what passes through our senses.  Those blackbirds on the marsh, well they are red winged black birds.  Those birds soaring on the thermal behind us are juvenile wood storks (their bills are yellow).  The hundreds of swallows around us are tree swallows brunching on white gnats off the marsh upwind.

Those dolphins “frolicking” up current are actually tearing the daylights out of a school of something fishy.  That movement on the shore at sundown — was it a raccoon smashing shell fish on a rock?

As the greens around us become richer daily from more and more sun, so do the skies become a more summery blue from the moisture lifting into them from the warming waters.

So far we have been spared the realism of another bombastic frontal passage as we endured in Cane Patch Creek, but we know this blocking high will drift east, and things will get a little too real again. But for now, anchored in the Ashepoo, this SW’ly blowing from abeam as the flooding tide holds us in its grip blows thoughts of the tempestuous far downwind.

Here the artist signs with cumulus humulus — that one over there looks like a beignet


Last night we watched a South Carolina Television (PBS) program “Homestretch” about the placement of injured, abused, and “non-competitive” racehorses in the care of convicts and the benefits to both.  (Timed for The Derby we are sure.) We commend it to all.

Photo is our deck level anchor light from Fiji.

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