November Edisto Beach Trip II

Sea Oats along the dunes at sunrise

We were blessed with spectacular sunrises each morning during our weeklong adventure on Edisto Island. At the start of our week, the morning sky was cloudless with a brilliant ribbon of color along the horizon.

Colors reflecting in the water..
Here comes the sun!
“I’m taking a walk, I’m going outside, I’m watching the birds, I’m just getting by”….John Prine

Our second day on the South Carolina coast we decided to take a road trip to Wadmalaw Island to engage in a wine tasting at the Deep Water Vineyard. Started in 2001 and under new management since 2015, the vineyard and winery features 5 unique wines made from 4 varieties of muscadine grapes – a true native grape to the southeastern United States. The winery also partners with a California vineyard to expand their wine selection by importing grapes from that region to create another half dozen or so special blends.

On 48 acres of low-country land, they grow and bottle their wine – selling their product at local venues and shipping all over the United States. Each year they host four seasonal festivals. In August, the Grape Stomp Festival kicks off with a Lucille Ball character contest and features the seasonal Have a Ball, Lucille strawberry wine. We tasted this wine and ended up purchasing a bottle to share later on at the beach house. I have to admit it I’m not much for sweet wine but it was darned tasty!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The grounds of the winery are typical of the low-country landscape and inviting. Self-guided tours through the vineyard are offered as well as places to sit, relax and/or enjoy a picnic.

Rows of grape vines..
Very inviting!!

After leaving the winery, our designated driver (who limited her wine tasting dramatically) drove us to another Wadmalaw Island attraction – the Charleston Tea Garden – the only large-scale tea farm in North America. The first successful U.S. propagation and production of tea bushes – Camillia sinensis – took place in Summerville, SC in 1888 and was known as the Pinehurst Tea Plantation. In 1915, the operation ceased and the plants grew wild until 1963 when the tea bushes were transplanted to an experimental research farm on Wadmalaw Island. William Hall purchased the research farm in 1987 and converted the whole operation to a commercial enterprise and the Charleston Tea Plantation was established. Partnering with the Bigelow family in 2003, the farm is thriving – offering free tours of the tea making plant and grounds. The on-site gift shop sells the various varieties of black and green teas produced here as well as offering free tastings. According to the website, in 2020, the company changed the name to the Charleston Tea Garden – in an effort to recognize the negative connotation that the word “plantation” evokes in the south.

I’m also impressed by the fact that the company is environmentally sensitive and uses no pesticides. They have also developed an irrigation system that enables them to “rely solely on rain and pond water to hydrate our young tea plants.” The Covid-19 friendly video tour of the plant was short but very informative. ย 

Historical Marker

During the video tour, I learned there are about 5-6 flushes of new growth each season on the tea bushes. It is this new growth that is harvested for tea production. A customized tractor was made specifically for this purpose. It travels down the rows of tea bushes, cutting off the new growth and depositing it into a hopper for transport back to the plant – creating the perfectly pruned “flat-topped” bushes seen in the background.

Custom-made tea harvesting tractor
An employee weeding and working among the tea bushes
Alley of Live Oaks at the tea garden

It was a great day exploring the low-country south of Charleston followed by a relaxing evening gazing out over the ocean on our beachfront porch!

November Edisto Beach Trip I

Shorebirds on Edisto Beach

I just returned from a short family vacation on Edisto Beach in South Carolina. The weather was absolutely glorious with sunny 70+ degree days and moderate nighttime temperatures. My routine each morning consisted of rising early, before anyone else was stirring, to brew a pot of coffee and watch the sunrise. I generally poured my first cup into an insulated thermos and headed for the beach. We rented a small beachfront cottage that made access to the shoreline exceptional as well as providing us with a front row seat to the sunrise! What a great way to start the day! I walked for an hour each morning along the shoreline – taking photos and enjoying the antics of the shorebirds and the flying skills of the brown pelicans as they skimmed the surface of the water in search of food. For the rest of the week, I’ll share some of my photographs and adventures of the trip!

Balancing Act

November Photo of the Day 11.06.21

Birch tree grouping….

After the fall leaves drop and before the snow flies, the subdued colors of the November landscape are so easy on the eyes. There’s magic in each season!

I walked back to the pond to check things out and was amazed at the perfect reflection of the sugarhouse in the water.

November Photo of the Day 11.05.21

Old Rock Wall in the Woods

This morning I was focused on going over my camera equipment – cleaning, sorting and deciding what I want to bring on my week-long trip to South Carolina. I did have one persistent problem that I was hoping to solve with the help of my husband. Over the summer, I discovered that the UV filter on my zoom lens was stuck. On that particular day, I wanted to change out the UV filter for my polarizing filter since I planned on shooting near the ocean and it was a bright blue, sunny day. I tried to remove it to no avail. My quick solution was to screw the polarizing filter over the UV for the day – not ideal but that’s what I did.

Today, I searched online for advice and tricks of the trade. I found a website that listed 10 potential methods to employ to loosen a lens filter and my husband and I worked through each one. Gently tapping the lens with another object while trying to turn with our fingers did not budge the lens. Placing a rubber band around the perimeter of the filter helps improve the grip on the lens and supposedly works most of the time. Nope! Since it was below freezing temperatures outside this morning, I set the camera out on the front porch in the hopes of contracting the materials enough to loosen the threads. Not a chance! We even tried some really grippy rubber gloves – still no luck.

Another remedy involved screwing on an additional lens filter to the outside of the stuck lens in the hopes of affecting the shape of the filter, thus releasing the threads. I balked at trying this since I did not want to end up with two stuck lenses!! ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s a handy tool photographers use called a filter wrench that solves the problem most of the time. Unfortunately, I do not have a lens filter wrench. (But, it’s on my wish list now!) My husband, being the mechanic that he is, suggested trying to use an oil filter wrench. I was skeptical but told him to give it a shot. He has two different size oil filter wrenches – unfortunately one was too small and the other too big!

As we were working down the “top ten fixes” list, we did notice there was a small dimple on the UV lens filter where it had obviously been damaged. I suspect that this is what’s causing the difficulty in removing the lens. This past summer I took a spill while carrying my camera and landed backwards on the rocky Acadian coast. I was unharmed but my camera experienced a slight impact with a big rock. I thought the lens hood took the brunt of the impact – but, who knows….

Turning my attention to removing damaged lens filters, I watched a video where a guy tried to “pry” back the dimple in his lens filter enough to allow it to unthread. My husband ever so gently tried this technique using some pliers to straighten out our “dimple” but it did not loosen the lens filter at all. At this point I was getting desperate and discouraged. We kicked around the idea of using an adjustable-type wrench – very, very carefully – to loosen the filter. His channel locks would not open wide enough nor did he have an adjustable wrench wide enough. His final solution was to use a pipe wrench – and that is what ultimately did the trick!! He taped up the ends so as not to damage the filter and with extreme caution applied a small amount of torque.

I DO NOT recommend anyone else try this method! I’m emphatic about that and I’ve learned a lesson from all of this. I will periodically check my lens filter and make sure it is not tightening up! I will also buy that darned lens filter wrench!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Evergreen ferns at the base of an old maple tree

November Photo of the Day 11.04.21

Milkweed Seed Pods

We have a large naturally occurring cluster of milkweed in the meadow adjacent to our pond. There are so many native and introduced plants whose seed pods are absolutely amazing and just as interesting as their flowers. Milkweed is one of those native plants that continue to perform well into fall. Isn’t nature cool?! ๐Ÿ™‚

November Photo of the Day 11.03.21

Wild Apple Tree

My late afternoon walk today was chilly but beautiful. The rain/sleet mixture we experienced in the early afternoon gave way to blue skies late in the day and I headed out to get some fresh air. This old roadside apple tree caught my eye. Many of the wild apple trees have shed their fruit but this tree is still clinging to its apples!

Towards the end of my walk, the clouds were putting on a good show reflecting the setting sun light.

November Photo of the Day 11.2.21

Snow on this date last year!

Yesterday I went for my annual physical and received two shots – a flu vaccine and a shingle’s vaccine. Today I’m feeling a slight normal reaction to these injections – headache, muscle aches, very sore arm, etc. So, I decided to look at photos from this time last year to post since I was not feeling up to a walk-about today.

I was surprised to realize that we had a dusting of snow on this day one year ago! The forecast tomorrow is calling for possible snow flurries in the morning before the temperatures rise – so not surprising!

And, just for fun – I’m posting another November photo from two years ago. No this is not Vermont!! Ha! I’m getting ready once again for our annual family get together in South Carolina and was perusing my photographs from a previous trip. The weather can be iffy on Edisto Island in November but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will enjoy the same temperatures and sunny days previously experienced in 2019. A shout-out to my birding friends – please identify for me this bird! My shorebird knowledge is a tad light! ๐Ÿ™‚

Shorebird catching the light!

November Photo of the Day 11.01.21

The month of November is kicking off with clear skies and moderate temperatures! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sunrise this morning produced some great vivid colors reflecting off the clouds. Our red oak tree in the front yard has yet to drop its leaves and they were all aglow with the early morning light – beautiful!

October Photo of the Day 10.28.21

Beech leaves catching the afternoon light filtering through the woods

Since I’ve been remiss in posting a photo a day since arriving home, I’m posting 3 photographs today! It’s been a busy time this past week weeding and cutting back my perennial beds, unpacking the Airstream and winterizing it temporarily, and cleaning the house. My husband held down the fort here at home while I was in Acadia NP working and his definition of “clean” differs drastically from mine! ๐Ÿ™‚

I planned my day to be divided between working in the garden in the morning and focusing on an area of the house to deep clean in the afternoon. Sandwiched these two chores, I managed to sneak in my daily walk around the neighborhood.

It’s been a while since I strolled through the old cemetery up the road and I decided to walk in and peruse some of the stone markers. I love old cemeteries! Some of the stones here date back to the early 1800’s and many of the engravings are barely legible.

Old cemetery

After being absent for nearly 6 months, it’s always fun to see what changes have taken place around my neighborhood. The pandemic brought newcomers to the area who purchased either land or properties with a house – some of which had been either vacant or just summer residences for years. It’s so nice to see people fixing up these properties and settling in.

As I was walking by the large “beaver pond” up the road, I noticed a new addition – a very large bird house set right on the edge of the pond. A duck house of some kind, perhaps??

Very large bird house – could it be for a duck??

October Photo of the Day 10.25.21

Miscanthus – Maiden Grass

One of my main chores after returning home from a 6-month workamping position is garden maintenance. My front perennial garden suffered some serious neglect this summer and I dove right in and started weeding and cutting back overgrown and messy plants. The grasses are still putting on their fall show and the Maiden Grass plumes were catching the light yesterday morning as they swayed in the gentle breeze.