I discovered (while putting all the Christmas decorations up Wednesday) another basket with books in it. At first I thought “Oh no… not still more” but then when I saw what the books were…I thought “Oh thank you Lord…for helping me find these.” They were Mark Nepo books, Madeleine L’Engle books…and Libby’s mother-in-law’s book (an original 1941 copy of Home By the River by Archibald Rutledge)… once poet laureate of South Carolina and one of my favorite storytellers and poets.)
The cover is so old…it is even hard to read the title…you can tell it has been a well-loved book and read several times by different members of the Clarkson family.
Some of you might remember that Libby’s mother-in-law received a copy of a letter a friend’s husband, Charles Thomas, had written about the funeral of Archibald Rutledge in September of 1973 that he attended. Later she re-wrote the whole letter in the back of this book…covering four pages.
What a priceless treasure and one I am putting in your hands at our late winter/early spring Ya retreat Libby! Thank you for letting me ingest all the rich history and first hand accounts from it.
I didn’t make any New Year resolutions but now I am making one…2018 will not fade away before I step back in Hampton Plantation…it has been too long! There is more SC history associated with
this plantation than other from my point of view. (President Washington visited here and saved the old oak tree at the front of the driveway, SC heroines lived here and fought here….Eliza Lucas Pinckney, Francis Marion…”Swamp Fox”…the famous governors Rutledges and Horrys lived here -for whom Horry County is named- and so on and so on.)
I started skimming back through this beautiful book and as I got to the last page…I suddenly stopped…because I recognized so many similar feelings Archibald Rutledge did after returning home to his old plantation to live out his last years and begin restoring it to its original beauty. It is the last story about his return to a more natural rhythm in life…one not controlled by clocks and bells and meetings.
…”For the first time, almost, in my life I am not timed by bells. I awake to the drowsy calls of the plantation bird. I am close at last, after nearly half a century in a highly civilized society, to the elemental things I love. To the deep wildwoods all about me; to the river and its eternal tides; to the sharecroppers whose philosophy is recognizing that life was given to us for enjoyment and fulfillment.
The days at Hampton are full of friends, of work, of hope. All about is a sense of calm, of joyous relaxation. There is here a gentleness that suggests what life can be; that in the realm of the heart, inglorious is the victory of might.
There is something that persuades one to accept quietly life’s stillness and its song. Only by such reconcilment can we find an answer to life’s longing. Here in this deep harbor of eternal dreams, the spirit finds sanctuary and is able, untormented by life’s badgerings, to meditate on the mystery all about us. The calm of the natural world must be the peace of God.”
(In a dream Archibald Rutledge once dreamt…he described seeing Judith Serree, a “far ancestress” whose father built Hampton and inscribing for her in his book… “Judith, her book, Hampton, 1730. I realize that I, too, am but a visitor here in this stately home. I am, therefore, trying to be a considerate guest.”)
We are back to elevator weather again…the high’s yesterday and today are predicted to be in the mid to high seventies before the fifties come clamoring back over the weekend. My skin feels so dry and I keep adding more and more lotion to my arms, legs, face, and neck. I am beginning to think that an ocean of oil wouldn’t get the job done…Speaking of lotion and oil…
I went to breakfast yesterday at Alex’s with friends. One of the regulars at Eva’s was in there and seated next to us. Before leaving he started sharing some hilarious anecdotes and he said to be sure and share them…
A little boy watched his grandmother one night put lotion on her face and neck…suddenly asking what she was putting on and why. “Oil of Olay responded his grandmother…it helps me look younger.”At school later that week one of the little boy’s spelling words was delay. The little boy was called on to give an example of the word in a sentence and he said. “My grandmother puts on “Oil of Delay” every night to look younger.” ( Great example!)
Before Christmas an elementary teacher asked her first graders to draw Christmas pictures to put up on the wall. One little boy drew the manger scene with Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, the angel, the three wise men, and animals. He also drew a round little figure staring down at the baby by the crib.
The teacher asked him if he had put Santa Claus in the drawing and was told no…that was “Round John Virgin.”
So until tomorrow….“Let us all sleep in heavenly peace” like Eloise!
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh