This is a story about a blogger, who learned a lesson I hope to never repeat. Sometimes I can be so uninformed!
My blog reached a status within two years of starting Gardening with Confidence ten years ago. Don’t hate me, each year, I’m asked to do several travel- and garden-related stories. My latest was from the Town of Summerville, SC. The hook? A girlfriend garden weekend. I didn’t have to think twice who that girlfriend should be: Genya. We have traveled together over 15+ years of friendship, so I know we like the same things.
I had great plans. “Genya, let’s get to Summerville, do what I need to do, and then let’s head to Charleston!” If you are in that area of South Carolina, Charleston is the place to go, right? I booked garden walking tours, dinners, more tours, etc. We had a very tight schedule. We even wanted to hook-up with my friend Tom Johnson at Magnolia Plantation, which is close to Summerville, but with a Charleston address.
I hope I don’t sound to shallow, because I’m tall enough to stand in the deep end. And I did. Read on.
The media manager for the town of Summerville arranged for us to stay at LINWOOD Inn, plus having meals at a couple of restaurants. I was under NO obligation to write about anything; not the Inn nor neither of the restaurants, even though the stay and food were comped by the establishments. My opinions are my own.
On Friday, September 15, 2017, at 1:30ish. Genya was running a little late, but that was OK. We knew we had the whole weekend ahead of us.
As Genya and I were waiting for Emily and Kerry to arrive, I was eyeing the fried pork skins on the table next to ours. The couple ordered them for an appetizer and clearly were not going to finish them. So why not, right? “Sir, excuse me please, are you going to eat all those pork skins?” “Why no, Ma’am. Would you like one?” he replied. Indeed I would, but I’d rather have 2 or three and thank you. Yes, Southern’s are friendly and generous; but I already knew that.
Genya and ordered drinks deciding on a Dixie Mule for Genya and another type of mule for me. Mine had smoked cilantro-favor base. I wasn’t too keen on it, and Genya wasn’t pleased with hers. That was when we switched drinks, and enjoyed them. We liked them so much; we ordered two more 😉
For dinner, we ordered ribs and pork belly with two sides: collards and pickled veggies. And more fried pork skins with pimento cheese as a dip. And let me share with this: I know my pimento cheese, and this one was up there with some of the best; even better than my own!
The biggest surprise of the evening was with Emily and Kelly. They were just stopping by to see if we needed anything. They stayed with us the whole evening! Of course they did. We laughed, joked, ate, drank, and found a couple of kindred spirits. Very fun!
We made it back to the Inn, decided to sleep with the joys of, ahem, spending the day in Charleston. Well, the plan was to spend an hour at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens starting at nine when were to meet with Tom. At breakfast, our life changed. Seriously; just like that. Genya and I are both saying this equally.
As we arrived, I had a major disconnect because, from everything I could see, LINWOOD INN needed no one to promote them. The much talked about and booked B & B didn’t need any good words from me. So at dinner, tt all became clear. The trip was about Summerville. The Town of Summerville hired Touchstone to promote their charming city.
I’ve been to Summerville before when I was here to do a story on Katie’s Krops. I didn’t hang around long. Lily and Aster were with me on the photo shoot so we could then go somewhere else for a few days. After the photo shoot, we headed to Isle of Palms, leaving Summerville behind. If I only knew.
Naively, Friday night, I had made arrangements with Tom Johnson, Executive Director of Magnolia Plantation, to meet at 9:00 to tour the gardens. I then agreed to breakfast at the Inn at 8:00. Our plan for the day was to do the plantation gardens, have lunch there then head to Charleston for the day through dinner. (Zac gave FIG as a recommendation for dinner. More on that later.)
Then on Sunday morning, were are going to have brunch in Charleston and then do a garden tour before heading home.
Au contraire, mon cheri, those plans were thrown by the wayside, and not because of our conversations with Touchstone the night before. We had every intention to carry on with our plans as arranged.
At breakfast, we chatted with Linda, co-owner of the LINWOOD Inn and two of their other guests Richard and Sarah from Belfast, Ireland,
What happened next was realizing we were living in the moment in Summerville, SC. It’s sad but true; I rarely do so.
As we sat there that early fall Saturday morning, we didn’t want the conversation to end, and since it was Saturday morning, they encouraged us to walk to the weekly farmers market and see the shops in their historic area.
Still, we reluctantly went to the little downtown. Oops. I had to text Tom to let him know we were going to be late and that I would let him know when were going to be there. Well, it was noon.
Remember the scene in Twilight Zone in the episode called Kick the Can? It was about old people in an old folks home (yes, we use to call them that) sitting around during the day, no visitors, playing checkers, living a sad lonely life or maybe more specifically just living out their years. But then at night, they would all gather to kick the can. (For those who don’t know this “sport” it was during the depression years, where no one had any money for a ball to kick, so they kicked a can.)
The scene is all the octogenarians, bent over from arthritis and osteoporosis, getting to the meeting area as best the could with canes, wheelchairs, or even holding on the stair railings for dear life. With a can in the middle between the two teams, as soon as the can was kicked, these aged men and women were boys and girls again, laughing, playing, running around living their youth again. Well, that was what Genya and I felt, but in reverse. We made these grandiose plans to go to Charleston to spend our days to kick the can and live it up, and to return to Summerville in the evening to rest. We got a new sense of living, and that was to enjoy the moment.
THEN IT HAPPENED
Then something happened as we walked down West 2nd street South in Summerville. Every step we took, we found we were figuratively kicking the can. Our fast-paced schedule was no more. Within ten steps of our journey downtown, on 2nd Street, we began to look around with our #eyeswideopen, as Elizabeth Galecke teaches us. We noticed Summerville was similar to Americas first and oldest Romantic garden, Magnolia Plantation. The trees were dripping with Spanish moss, taking us from our preserved agenda and now putting us in the moment. Palms trees, ancient love Oaks, sago palms, caught our eye at every step.
Another ten steps, we realize Summerville is the destination with Charleston as an occasional Garden tour and dinner. Summerville had all we needed.
The farmers market was a delight with all local foods, preserves, coffees, anything you could want. We went into the antique shops, and if we had room, we would have come home with a guest bedroom bed and other gorgeous items at very reasonable prices.
I spy more pork skins. Oink!
Genya took the safer route with teas and coffees.
We finally caught up with Tom Johnson at Magnolia Plantation at 12:30. Tom hooked us up with gardens, a house tour, and the slave quarters. But guess what? We spent so much of our time in Summerville, we had to cut our time short in the gardens of Magnolia Plantation, although we did stay for two hours. If it weren’t for our private tour with Tom, we would never have been fortunate enough to see so much!
We reluctantly left Magnolia Plantation for historic Charleston. Our first stop was to have drinks at Sorry We’re Closed’s sister cocktail roof top bar. This was our first taste of wishing we were back in Summerville. The bar was great; we loved sitting outside, having wine and cheese. But then a seven-crew bachelor party made their rounds through. One especially drunk dude sat in front of us. “Excuse me. Are you seriously sitting in front of me lighting a cigarette when there is plenty of seating elsewhere, and your cronies are sitting elsewhere?” Our “in the moment” moment was getting too real. I told the young dude to move it along; take your butt and your lighted fag to the rest of his group. No, you are not cool to me. Go!
OK, regaining composure, we headed to our dinner reservation at Fig. The culinary gardener, Zac Hackney recommended it. I’ll be writing about that later, but I will tell you this: FIG=OMG! Delicious with a wonderful experience.
After dinner, we walked several blocks of a bustling Charleston, with what seemed like too many drunk male wedding party participants. The topper was a food truck selling drinks on a frozen stick.
After Summerville, it was difficult to regroup and enjoy the nightlife of Charleston. Don’t get me wrong, Charleston is a wonderful city, but there is no comparison to Summerville if you want to chill. It depends on what you are looking for. No doubt the bachelor parties would have wondered what to do next in Summerville, so thankfully, they went to Charleston.
TOOK OUR PLANS AND BROKE THEM!
Sunday morning, we broke all our plans, because we were glued to Summerville. First off we slept until 10:00 AM unheard of for both of us.
We walked the gardens, adorned our bathing suits, and lazily sat by the pool, swam, read, had our coffee. It wasn’t until about 2:00 that we decided to walk downtown for oysters. Our second walk confirmed we didn’t want to leave. We even checked real estate prices. One thing we knew for certain, we were coming back to Summerville.
If you are looking for your own Kick The Can moment, bring your meeting group, your family, your date or partner to Summerville, South Carolina, and live life in the moment. A moment that will be cherished for a lifetime.