We had never been to Savannah. And since we were driving from Texas to some of the Civil War battlefields around Washington, it seemed a good idea to stop there for a few days. We stayed at the Gastonian, billed as a ‘romantic get-away’ and it was, though our room was in a room apparently used once for a storage shed. The definition of romantic seems to vary. We enjoyed walking around the old city squares, admiring the lush gardens of bright flowers, istening to the eccentrics the town is know for talking to themselves. There was enough quaint to choke a horse.
‘There’s a beach nearby,’ Ginny said one morning over coffee. I may have mentioned once before that Ginny loves the water much like some people love the mountains, or puppies or breathing. It recharges her batteries to smell the ocean, feel the warmth of a beach under her feet. So, we got directions, packed snacks and headed off toward Tybee island about 20 miles away on the Atlantic Coast.
We walked along the tide line, watched the sea birds zip along the water’s edge, squawking with quarrelsome impatience at we intruders. There was something more substantial, more comforting, on the island than Savannah’s Gothic charms. It was a good day and we carried it with us the next day as we drove out of Savannah and headed into the Carolinas, on to DC.
We had planned a different evening entertainment. Perhaps a stroll around the plaza at sundown, followed by dinner. The storm came up quickly, dark clouds rolled in and the wind howled in from the Sangre de Cristos range to the north, dropping the temperature like a fall from a high window. It rained, great wet drops, which turned to hail. Flatlanders like Ginny & I aren’t used to icy winds and hail in June. But there it was. Hours later, the wind died down and the clouds began to roll away. The full moon emerged, a reminder that we control nothing. But we can enjoy the beauty.
News Item: TEXAS IS ABOUT TO LET COLLEGE STUDENTS CARRY GUNS ON CAMPUS..
Sometime in the late 1970s, Ginny learned to weave. She took a class at the Southwest Craft Center, learned to make dyes from grass and plants and dye the yarn she spun from sheep’s wool. Heavy duty. It was amazing to watch her load the loom, laying out the threads of yarn in horizontal and vertical lines – the warp and weave, if I remember correctly. And move the arm of the loom back and forward with just the right amount of force to keep the tension right and lines straight for a consistent pattern. It was watching art born. And she loved it.
Then Life got in the way. Ginny developed rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease in which the body’s defense mechanism attacks the linings between the joints. Knees, elbows, hands swell and grow painful. There is no cure. Treatment with powerful medicines never can correct the damage and, now at best, it slows the destruction. That put an end to her weaving. And to her working life.
However, as she gained control over RA through a new series of pharmaceuticals and surgery, she began making quilts. She set about sewing together small pieces of fabric in colorful patterns. Some were traditional ones, based on antique quilts. Some were interpretations. And some were her own bold designs. The work was slow and tedious, but she attacked it with the same focus as she applied to the loom. And soon, you could see the patterns develop. And watch art being born. And she loved. it.
Nature always puts on a show in the high country of New Mexico. It takes the breath away.
We were on our 2011 Southern Tour, following old roads from Texas up through the Old South and into Washington, D.C. Partly a long-held desire to see Civil War battlefields, but mainly just to take a long drive. We arrived in Savannah, a place we’d never visited and thought, ‘Let’s stay a few days.’
It’s a lovely city, old and proud of its eccentricities. It is also a city squares – park-like grids laid out more-or-less geometrically like refuges from the suffocating summer heat. We looked at houses that pre-dated the American Revolution, shopped in tourist shops and walked. On one such day, we noticed that the magnolias were magnificent. We have magnolias in South Texas, certainly, but with scant annual rainfall and summers that last into the winter, they rarely grow with such abandon and luxury as they do in Savannah.
This, then, became an icon for Savannah for me – opulent, aromatic to the extreme and lovely in its excesses. After a few more days, we drove on up into Virginia, heading for D.C.