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Lee Scott

A winter’s walk on the beach

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By Lee Scott

It is that time of year again. The quiet time between Christmas and Easter. The Christmas decorations are safely put away except for those few you missed. It is not time yet to think about unpacking all those ceramic Easter bunnies and Easter baskets. There are no visitors stopping by on their way north or south and the kids are in school. Now is the time for the long-awaited winter’s walk on the beach. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than our beach, especially when the only people you see out there are locals.  

 The last walk I took out at Hunting Island State Park was early in December. It was right after the Full Cold Moon or Super moon as it was called. Brandy, my canine companion, and I went out one morning and left behind the Thanksgiving leftovers, the unopened containers of Christmas decorations along with the unaddressed Christmas cards. We watched that morning as the sun rose up over the horizon. There were no clouds and the sunlight on the water sparkled. The tide was very high, and the waves were spectacular. I did not want to leave it was so beautiful.

There were only a few people at the park with me and Brandy that morning.  The beach was very quiet because the Thanksgiving visitors had gone home, and the Christmas company had not arrived. She was the one that got tired before me. “Come on, Mom” she seemed to say as she tugged on her leash. “We have things to do and treats to eat.” 

Driving out of the park, I realized how much work had been completed since Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, the accomplishments so far have been astonishing. Regardless, it is the beach that beckoned me that day and even more now. This is the time of year when we get some warm beautiful days. There are very few visitors and the tourist season has not started. The only people out there are those of us who want to sit on the sand, maybe get our feet wet, and just admire the scenery. 

I met a woman from Columbia recently and she said, “You are so lucky to live here in Beaufort. Everyday there is something else beautiful to admire — the flowers, the marshes, and the moss hanging from the live oaks.”

“Oh, you are so right,” I replied. “But you should really come back and visit in the summer when you can enjoy our beach too.”

We do not have to give away all our secrets, now do we?

Saying good-bye

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By Lee Scott

I lost a friend last week. She was my next-door neighbor and a member of The Greatest Generation. We had only known each other for about four years, but we had a lot in common even though there was an age difference. In fact, she was more of a contemporary to me than some people my own age.

There is an old saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” The “gold” friends are the ones who know everything about you and have lived some of those life experiences. But the “silver” friends are in the discovery phase; everything you say is fresh to them and all the old stories are new, having never been heard before.

I was her silver friend, but she had many gold friends too. Family and friends who had known her story for years. But the experiences in life are viewed differently as you grow older and shared with a new friend. She was able to understand that new perspective.  Regardless, we were old souls together. We loved drinking Pouilly-Fuisse wine and telling our own version of our lives. 

I cannot tell you specifically what we talked about. The conversations were just easy. You know the kind of friend I am talking about here. Those people who make you feel comfortable and light up when they see you, and vice versa. People who know you well enough to understand your joys and sorrows. I remember when Bailey, my cocker spaniel, died last year, it was she who sent a beautiful hand-written note that read: “I know he is irreplaceable and I send my condolences to all of you.” People who have gone through the same thing, understand. She touched our hearts.  

Last year, I taught her how to Skype. She had a blast. We sat there like two teenagers, “Now who should we call?”  I texted my son and told him to answer a Skype call from her. “Why hello!” he said.  Then we tried calling her son. What fun! I talked to her about Facetime too and how easy it was for me to keep in touch with kids and grandkids. 

I was in the Bahamas when I heard about her death. At noon, when the bells of Saint James Methodist Church rung in Hopetown, I thought about her. She and I both shared a belief in God and the afterlife. And I said a prayer of thanks to God for allowing this woman into my life.

And so, Sally, I expect, when it is my time, you will have that bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse chilled and waiting for me. I hope to have many more conversations with you and please say hello to Bailey. 

The scary trees in my yard

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By Lee Scott

There is a scene in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy and the Scarecrow are walking along the Yellow Brick Road and notice some apple trees. As they start to pick apples, one of the apple trees comes to life and begins yelling from his huge round mouth. The tree, if you recall, has a tangled trunk making it look even more gruesome, and the long limbs become arms hurling apples at Dorothy and the Scarecrow as they escape. 

I can relate to this scene when my own trees come to life during some of our thunderstorms here in the Lowcountry.  The storms are so vibrant, with the sound of thunder reverberating through the creeks and marshes. Occasionally, at night, during one of these very nasty downpours, I find myself watching the live oak trees in my backyard. There is something almost mystical as I sit mesmerized by it all. When the lightning strikes, I notice the trees wave their arms at me, and the holes — where limbs once existed — suddenly look like eyes and a mouth.

But my trees look even scarier than those apple trees. The long limbs hang out over the yard and appear to move as the hanging Spanish moss starts to sway. I can almost hear the trees pulling up out of their roots and walking toward me. It dawns on me, I am glad I’m not a child because I would be petrified. Still, I move closer to my spouse in bed as the cracks of thunder shake the house and the room lights up with the approaching trees. Why can’t our dog hear or sense the trees advancing? Doesn’t she know one a gnarled limb is going to break the window, reach in, and grab me? No, she just lies there in her bed, oblivious to my fears.

There are other times when the trees come alive during a storm, especially when I am driving on certain streets out on the Sea Islands. The oak trees bend over the roads with their long branches and the moss looks like tentacles reaching out to grab me. The rain and headlights only make it worse by reflecting the shadows of waving arms.

It is after a good storm, I find myself studying the largest live oak in my yard. The tree’s mouth is merely the gaping hole left from a fallen rotted limb. The beady eyes, so menacing the night before, are only knobs in the wood.  

Seeing these majestic trees up close makes me realize how much I love the live oaks here, despite their stormy transformations, and I am grateful that I do not have to worry about the apples.

Making it grow

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By Lee Scott

It is always a good idea to take advantage of learning moments throughout one’s life.

Most recently, I had the chance to listen to three Master Gardeners. The program was designed as a question and answer session, so the audience could ask questions about landscaping and growing plants and flowers in the Lowcountry. However, since the event was held soon after our recent snow and ice, the questions were more like: “Did I kill my bushes by covering them?” or “What will happen to my drooping palm trees?” Everyone was concerned about what to do next.

It was interesting how well the three panelists adapted to the new line of questioning. I think they understood that most of the people in the audience had no idea how to handle the post-freeze aftermath (myself included).

One of the gardeners gave some quick and easy pointers. The first one was, “If it is brown, cut it down — but wait until after our cold spell breaks.” That made sense. Those leaves on my plants outside are not going to suddenly turn green again. When the freeze warnings are over, I will have to cut them back. 

Then another little tidbit. “If it is black, it is not coming back.” Well that takes care of the Begonia I left on the screen porch. I had totally forgotten about it. I had been taking care of that plant since the spring of 2015. But it is black. Totally gone. It was suggested that I just buy another one.

Some people brought in pictures of plants in our yards. I brought in a picture of a shrub that I was not sure was a plant or a weed. The gardeners assured me it was a Fatsia plant. Now that is the kind of plant I need: I have given it absolutely no attention for four years and it looks bigger and better than ever. Perfect! 

The experts also talked about the Clemson Extension Office in Beaufort, where you can obtain gardening information and also have your soil tested. My husband and I did this when we moved here. Our backyard looked terrible so we took some of the soil to the extension office and they told us we needed lime. We followed their recommendations and ultimately grew a beautiful lawn. 

The Master Gardener program was a success and the participants took home much needed information. As we wait now for warmer weather to return and determine which of our plants survived, it is probably a good time to order new plant and seed catalogs. It looks like a lot of gardens will be changing this spring.

The Angel Tree

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By Lee Scott

Lee Scott-Snow Angels 0118

There is nothing in this world that brings the “Kid” out in me like a good snow storm. I love to run out and make Snow Angels in the snow.  But when I moved to Beaufort, I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably not be doing any snow angels; then came Winter Storm Grayson. The weather reports started talking about a cold air mass coming down from the Artic. Then came a report about a low coming up off the coast of Florida.  Well, I spent much of my life in the Northeast and that sure sounded like a Nor’easter to me. But in South Carolina?

Sure, enough the reports were getting more and more ominous. Could it be that I was going to be able to go out and make snow angels in my yard? Maybe not just one either. As the rain started that day I was sure we were only going to get some sleet with our cold weather. And then it started – actual snowflakes.  The reports had been right. We did get snow!  I kept waiting for the optimal moment to go out and decided it would be best in daylight.   

I proceeded to get dressed like a three-year-old going out to play. In my closet was an old pair of foul weather coveralls that I used to wear. I pulled them on over a pair of slacks and a wool sweater, put on my designer boots because I don’t own any snow boots, and then put on my heavy down coat. I had to find a functional hat, not a cute one, and a pair of warm gloves, not the leather ones. By the time I got outside the sleeting had begun.  

Now when you are a child and you plop down on the snow to make a snow angel, you just fall back. But when you are older, the idea of just flopping back just does not make sense. There could be rocks, or lawn utensils hidden in the snow.   So, I picked my spot carefully, sat down gingerly, and made a beautiful snow angel.  I took some pictures, went into the house where I threw off all my outerwear, and reviewed my pictures. They were terrible. My poor snow angel looked like Mickey Mouse.  I thought about going out and taking more pictures, but seeing the wet pile of clothes on the floor changed my mind.  Instead I sat in front of the fireplace and waited for the electricity to come back on.  (which it did) Fortunately, the next morning I was able to make more snow angels and those pictures came out very majestic. 

Handy partners lend a helping hand

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By Lee Scott

As I was leaving my house recently to take Brandy for her grooming appointment, I opened the front door and a bird flew in and up the staircase. 

My spouse jumped up from his chair and said, “Shut the door there is a bird in the living room.” 

Uh oh, that meant there were two birds in the house. As I began to shut the front door the first bird flew out. Now my husband only had to deal with just one bird.  Evidently the birds had been perched on the Christmas wreath hanging on the front door. So, I unhooked it and flung it down on the grass. Then I put Brandy in the car, got in, and drove down the street.  

It wasn’t until I was halfway through the neighborhood when it dawned on me that possibly my mate might want assistance. Now I know I have blonde hair, but that is not the reason it took me so long to have this revelation. The truth was I was more focused on getting Brandy to her hair appointment on time.

I hesitated though to call him and ask if he needed my help. You see, my spouse is a very competent male. If there is something I need done around the house, he can do it.  

When the screen on the back door was ripped, he repaired it.  When the sink was clogged, he fixed it. There are numerous tasks that I just assume he can do because he is that kind of guy. 

So sometimes when I ask him if he needs help his response is something like: “What, don’t you think I can do it myself?” Or at the other end of the spectrum the response is: “I’ve been waiting for you to offer some help.” 

So here is the conundrum: Does he want my help or not?

I decided to call anyway. His response was: “Yes, why don’t you come back.”

But as I drove up to the house he was standing there with his phone. “I was just going to call you. The bird is out.”

I knew he could do it on his own.

“How did you do it?” I asked.

“I turned off all the lights inside the house, turned on the front porch light and opened the front door. The old phrase ‘Go to the light!’ came to mind. The bird flew out and joined his partner in the holly tree.”

Things got back to normal that day. Brandy looked well groomed, the birds were chirping in the tree, the Christmas wreath was in the trash and the house had a mild scent of Pine Sol throughout.  

Runners shed clothes for good cause

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By Lee Scott

On Dec. 9, I drove up to Kiawah Island to watch a marathon. Please allow me to emphasize the word “watch.” I did not run, I observed. 

This event was the 40th Annual Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon and half-marathon.  

The race is sanctioned by the USA Track and Field Organization and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The purpose of my visit was to watch two 30-somethings run the half-marathon. 

As I was driving on the island, I started to notice clothes on the side of the race course. This went on for miles. There were coats, shirts, pullovers and sweatshirts; all the kinds of clothing you normally see on runners. 

Now, let me tell you it was very cold that morning. I have no doubt many runners were wearing at least pullovers at first, but they got overheated as they were running. So, I understand why they would be shedding clothing, however I wondered how were they going to get their clothes back? Do they drop an article of clothing at a specific spot and then go back to pick it up? 

After running 26 miles, do you really want to go back and find an old sweatshirt? Do they have relatives and friends grab their discarded gear? Or maybe, they just don’t care and leave it there.

When my two friends finished their half-marathon, I asked about all the clothes.

“Oh, that’s for charity. A lot of racers are encouraged to drop clothing,” Carrie responded. “Any clothing left after the race gets donated and there are many charity opportunities in races nowadays.”

Sure enough, I looked up the Kiawah Island Golf Resort website. “Clothing not claimed after the event is donated to local nonprofit.” What a great idea! 

There were a few other ways for people to donate, like the Soles for Souls program which allows runners to donate their shoes.

After reading about Kiawah’s race, I started to investigate further. There are stories in newspapers all over the country about cities holding races where the runners are dropping clothes and volunteers are picking them up to take to homeless shelters and nonprofits. 

According to one article regarding the 2014 New York Marathon, runners donated 26 tons of clothing to Goodwill.  

Goodwill set up bins along the race course so runners could just throw items into the boxes.

It was an amazing eye-opener as I watched people shedding their clothes that morning, and I was glad to hear this trend is spreading throughout the country. It was also announced that spectators could shed their outerwear too; something for me to remember for next year’s race. 

Hallmark movies pull at heartstrings

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By Lee Scott

When I was a child, the Hallmark Card company would sponsor a two-hour movie each Christmas. This was a big deal in our household and as I recall, the commercials only promoted Hallmark cards, many of which were tearjerkers.  

There were always soldiers coming home for Christmas, new puppies arriving and grandparents holding new grandchildren. 

Although the original Hall of Fame debuted on television on Dec. 24, 1951, it was the movies from the 1960s that I remember. My parents would announce when one of the shows was scheduled and we would all be huddled in the family room, poised for the announcer’s voice. I have even bought some of the DVDs of those older movies.

Times have changed though. Now Hallmark has its own channel and has recently introduced another one. The Hallmark Drama channel was launched on Oct. 1. This troubled my spouse somewhat since he thought the original channel had enough drama.

Now, instead of watching an occasional Christmas movie, you can watch tearjerkers 24 hours a day. 

As I sat there the other night watching “A Royal Christmas” where the Prince of Cordinia wants to marry the seamstress, Emily, my spouse asked, “How many of these little kingdoms are tucked in the mountains of Europe? And how many princes does Genovia have anyway?” 

I had to remind him that the Kingdom of Genovia was in “The Princess Diaries” movie, and it was not a Hallmark movie. He must not be paying attention to the movies as much as I am, otherwise he would have known that fact. 

I did suggest he might want to contact Prince Harry of England who recently found his future wife, Meghan Markle, in America.  Maybe Harry knows how many kingdoms are in Europe. Also, can we assume a movie production will be coming out based on that relationship? Is it possible Hallmark is already working on one?

My spouse is correct, though. There are a lot of royalty finding their American soul mates on the Hallmark channel. There is “A Prince for Christmas,” “Christmas Princess,” “My Summer Prince,” “A Royal Christmas” … you get the idea. 

But the “Christmas Princess” is really not about a royal princess after all, but rather a young girl who dreamed about becoming a Rose Bowl princess.

Before long the Christmas season will end, and the new movies will fade into rerun heaven. There will be no more mistletoe, falling snow and endless Christmas decorations. But fret not, Hallmark is already planning for the 2018 Christmas presentations. 

For now, enjoy the shows, and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Sometimes the world needs admirers

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By Lee Scott

There was a woman ahead of me in the hallway at our local community center the other morning. She was walking slowly and then stopping. It was then I realized she was looking at the display of Christmas quilts made by the local quilting club. 

I walked up next to her and we both started to comment on the beauty of each of the quilts. There were wreaths and placemats, large bed quilts and throws.

They were extraordinary, each with a colorful Christmas theme designed by the quilter. 

As we stood there, “ooohhhing” and “aahhing” the assortment of quilt hangings, I said to her, “I love to look at these, but I really do not have the desire to learn to do it myself.”

“Oh well,” she responded. “The world needs admirers. And we are admirers.”

I was struck by her comment because it is so true. The world is full of various artists: photographers, painters and designers, talented individuals who entertain us with their work.  

There are so many things I marvel at, but have no earthly interest to do, like playing a musical instrument. My spouse performed in an orchestra when he was in high school. He loved to play an instrument and enjoyed learning the music. I, on the other hand, just wanted to sit in the audience and listen.  

I find so much joy in closing my eyes and hearing piano and violin duets in concert. And yet, I never took lessons as a child even though both my parents played the piano and loved to sing along.

This admiration theme also reminds me of an event I attended recently. 

The garden club I belong to set up a festive luminary night in our community. The small buildings were decorated with greenery and wrapped with white lights. The tables were beautifully covered with pine cones, holly and candles.

A local choir from Bethesda Christian Church sang. It was spectacular. I sat there that night listening to the music, admiring the decorations put together by my friends, Nancy and Cindy (along with a bunch of their elves) and eating homemade biscuits and brownies, and I recalled how much I had admired everything the volunteers had contributed. Although there were numerous kudos to the organizers after the event ended, I think they were pleased just to see people like me enjoying themselves that night. 

Now I understand what my friend Roberta was saying in the community center that morning.  

There is nothing wrong with being one of those people who sits back and admires. We cannot all be singers, bakers, creative designers or quilters. And as she reminded me, “The world needs admirers.”

Child-proofing a house is challenging

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By Lee Scott

Recently I discovered that my house is very unfriendly. This came to light when my husband and I heard that our youngest grandchild was coming to visit. 

Most of the grandchildren are between the ages of 4½ and 10 years old, so we had forgotten about the whole “unfriendly” house issue.

My husband walked into the living room and spotted me on my hands and knees crawling around the floor.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m getting ready for Little ‘T,’ ” I said, “but I also found a couple of the dog’s toys stuffed under the couch.”

I reminded him that our house was a hazard to little kids. There are lamp cords hanging down to electric plugs, not to mention the electric outlets themselves. 

Then there are the pointed edges on the coffee table and the silk flowers in the beautiful vase that might be a temptation. 

Everywhere I looked there were potential problems, including all the cabinets in the dining room, kitchen, family room and the bathrooms with tempting doors. Our cleaning products had all migrated to the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink.  

Having been out of the child protection mode for a long time, I had forgotten about little ones. 

As I wandered around the house putting those plastic plugs into the electric outlets, my spouse suggested we put the kids up in a nearby motel. Although that might have been easier, I said no. My real objective was so the parents could sit around with us for hours and talk without having to jump up every two seconds to rescue their son.

When they arrived, sure enough, Little “T” headed for the fireplace (which was unlit) but still had some ashes from the last fire. Then there was the liquor cabinet which I had totally forgotten about and the adjacent wine cooler.  Little “T” discovered how much fun it was to open and close the door.

It was then his grandfather said in his very authoritative voice “No! Do not touch that door again.”

And that was that. My unfriendly house became very safe. It did not take long before grandfather and grandson were communicating on their own level. Little “T” would look over to touch something and he got a nod or a shake of the head. It worked out beautifully until the morning, when I looked up at the railing outside of his bedroom and saw him ready to throw a toy below.  

That is when he learned, that even grandmothers can say “No!”

He left our home unharmed and my unfriendly house returned to normal, until the next time a little one shows up.

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