Monday, February 28, 2011

I miss South Carolina!!

I told (warned) you I'd share more about our recent trip:

The weather here has been gray, damp and cool for the most part. I guess I got spoiled last week with the sunshine and warmth in South Carolina. It was unusually warm when we left home heading South and I was genuinely shocked to come home to snow after a week.
Saturday was really gray and threatening around here although the sun finally did come out in the late afternoon. (By then, we'd already decided to simply stay home for the day.) I let my mind wander to the great day we had last Saturday (in SC). It was 76 degrees and super sunny. We actually went to an outdoor festival!!! In February!!! We took lawn chairs and settled in to listen to some acoustic blues - outside - in the sun. It felt fantastic to us winter worn souls!

The event was the monthly open house at the Hagood Mill Historic Site in Pickens, South Carolina. It's an actual working grist mill. It was used commercially well into the 60s. Now, they run the mill once a month, actually grinding such things as corn meal, flour and even grits so they can show the public how mills worked in their day. They have quite a few stones (used to grind) on display and explain how the stones could be changed for different types of grain. Our friend bought a bag of true, fresh grits. You know, the kind that have to cook for a long while, not the instant most of us are familiar with these days.

There was an impromptu gathering of musicians under a tree. It worked sort of like an acoustic folk jam-session. Each time we went by, different folks were playing with the group. They were quite enjoyable. There were two talented ladies trading off on the bass (stand up) throughout the afternoon.

There were also demonstrations of spinning, hearth cooking, chair caning, leather tooling, blacksmithing and more. There is a working cotton gin on the property but was not being demonstrated that day. There were some ladies demonstrating old fashioned needle arts, too. An actual still sits on the property but is simply set up to perform as an educational exhibit. (We were hoping for samples to wash down the hearth-baked cornbread they were serving.)

There was an acoustic blues duo playing on a porch with an audience gathered round on the lawn. At the close of their performance time, one of the musicians was to conduct a harmonica workshop. He decided the weather was too great to waste by teaching indoors so he went in and asked the participant s to join all of us on the lawn. I was surprised to see about 14 folks come out to learn to play the mouth organ - even more surprised at how many were of the female persuasion. I'm not trying to be discriminatory. You simply don't come across many women palying the harmonica. We enjoyed watching this group and almost wished we had instruments to work with. (Our friend's dad had played and she has his old, good quality instrument at home but no one in the household knows how to play. She wished she had known.)

There were about 10 crafters selling their wares. I actually bought two pairs of leather earrings. The lady selling these is just beginning to "play" with her husband's leather scraps (He does large leather pieces) and they are quite basic but I've always liked the unique. The price was unbelievable, too!! I paid $1 for the first pair and $2 for the second!!!

There were two other jewelry makers present who did beautiful pieces using true gemstones and silver and gold components. Unfortunately, I feel these folks are going to suffer at fairs and festivals this year as the cost of their metals has risen so much they will no longer be able to produce wares that are "spontaneous" purchase prices. One had some fantastic hammered silver pieces but they were pried appropriately for what they were. This was considerably more than we planned to spend at such an event.

****Since 1996, the mill has operated, rain or shine, the third Saturday of every month from 10 a.m.-4p.m. These monthly "corn grinding" days have become mini-festivals of traditional arts, folklife and music. More than 25 regular demonstrators share their skills with the public. If you're in the area on one of these days, stop on by for a good time.

All in all, we had a great day in the sun - good music, interesting sights and, best of all, time spent with people we love.

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