Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sweetgrass Baskets and leaving Charleston

I forgot to include part of yesterday ... and actually the day before as well. The KOA campground was a couple of miles out on US 17 from Patriots Point, a stretch of road that includes a lot of basket sellers. The first day at Patriot Point I had gotten a book on "Sweetgrass Baskets and the Gullah Tradition" and on our way back to Wolf had noticed the various sellers along our route, some of the rickety looking structures were empty but many had women and some men creating baskets.That first day I tried to get Geoff to stop the car at one of the stands but I couldn't seem to see one soon enough to get him to slow down and stop at it <sigh>.

Empty sweetgrass basket stands on US17
The book (and many similar ones I am sure) explains that after the Civil War and the freeing of slaves, many of them in the South Carolina Low Country turned to creating sweetgrass baskets to sell, a cultural skill they had brought to this country from their homes in the rice growing regions of Africa. For generations they had used them for various home tasks from winnowing rice to storing various foodstuffs. Now the money they brought helped put food on the table.

At first they were just sold to the tourists who came to the area after the War but in the early 1900's they began to sell them in downtown Charleston and even to ship them off to New York stores to be sold there. To this day the baskets are made with the same rushes and grasses and tools of decades ago.

On our second day, returning from our trip out to Fort Sumter, I finally managed to get Geoff's attention soon enough to get him slowed down and turned into a small dirt drive where a basket seller was located. Sitting in a shady part of the flimsy structure was Mae Hall working away on a basket and surrounded by shelves of baskets in various shapes and sizes.

I finally found one I liked, a small basket with a lid. About seven inches across and four inches high with the lid on. Mae puts her name and location (Mt Pleasant S.C.) on the bottom of every basket she makes. Along with the basket, Mae handed me a brochure about them and her card and said if it ever had anything wrong with it just send it to her and she would fix it. Not sure if either of us would live that long as I am coming up on 75 and she is 79 and the basket is sturdy!

Back to Wednesday morning & our departure ... one of the things I noticed as we headed for York County is that Charleston and Jacksonville are similar. Not only is the land flat but there are numerous rivers, creeks, and waterways, crossed by a multitude of bridges.

Charleston seems to have a bit more swampland closer in but both have considerable container ship traffic and as we headed out of town on I-26 I noticed a lot of container truck traffic.

An accident over on our side around mile marker 203 with an upside down vehicle in the grass, left a tire lying on the white line between two lanes. Other than that traffic and weather were good to us and in spite of a stop at a Flying J for fuel and a WalMart stop for miscellaneous stuff we arrived at Crown Cove RV Park just south of the South Carolina/North Carolina line in mid afternoon.

This park is a little out of the way, farther from main roads than most but their email confirming the reservation had clearly given directions and warned us not to trust our GPS to get there. The main problem seems to be that the GPS tries to take you on little roads through housing developments that are marked private. The park itself is on the side of a hill and all in all not quite as nice as the KOA in Charleston had been.

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