Happy new year!

Time to head home.

After two weeks with family here in Kiawah Island in South Carolina, it’s time to head home. We’ve had beautiful weather, allowing time to explore the sands and lagoons of this beautiful island. I’ve added to the gallery more photos of birds and scenery. It was foggy on the beach at sunrise this morning, so I’ll share this photo from Christmas morning.

Christmas Sunrise at Kiawah.

Foggy morning

Fog at sunrise.

Kiawah Island has been sunny and warm every day, but one consequence is the dense fog that settled over the island this morning. I was out on the beach at sunrise, but it was invisible. After a long walk I found driftwood to provide some foreground interest, just as a jogger passed by.

Driftwood on the Kiawah beach.

South Carolina

From the mountains to the sea.

From the mountains of Switzerland to the beaches of South Carolina… we are here at Kiawah Island for two weeks. On the first morning I enjoyed sunrise on the beach… and in the afternoon, some bird watching near the wetlands of Cinder Creek.

A red-shouldered hawk near Cinder Creek, Kiawah.

Schutzenfest

A longstanding family tradition.

Our family gathers for Thanksgiving in a meadow on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, for a feast and family reunion. In recent decades it has been held every year, on even years – but last year we had to postpone it due to the pandemic. So it was with great excitement and relief when the family gathered again, this year, reconnecting after three years. Only 80 attended this year – whereas almost 120 appeared three years ago – but it was a beautiful day, with fine weather and fine food and fine family.

Lunch was a potluck event, with an incredible spread of salads, sides, meats, and desserts.

Family lines up for the Thanksgiving feast.

The meadow is surrounded by oaks adorned by Spanish moss, adjacent to a pond filled with brilliant green duckweed.

Spanish moss on the oaks at Wadmalaw.

After lunch, a skeet-shooting contest.

The skeet-shooting contest at Wadmalaw.
Spanish moss on the oaks at Wadmalaw.

Hoppin’ John

A southern tradition.

We celebrate New Years’ Day with two traditional foods from the South Carolina Lowcountry: Hoppin’ John and Collard Greens. These classic dishes were inspired by African traditions and have been a New Year’s tradition in the Carolinas for at least a hundred years. Pam (who grew up in lowcountry South Carolina) made a wonderful meal for us this year, guaranteeing us good luck and financial prosperity: “Eating those two dishes will ensure prosperity in the new year, and the collards represent greenbacks and the black-eyed peas coins. Or so they say.” [Moss 2014]

A small serving of collards (left) and hoppin’ john (right).

In preparing this post, however, I looked around a bit and found that fascinating article ([Moss 2014] from a Charleston food writer in 2014) about the history of Hoppin’ John… providing interesting background on the African origins of this dish, and how the commercial evolution of the key ingredients (bacon, rice, beans) mean it’s difficult to really accomplish the original quality of this dish. Next time, we’ll strive to find the original ingredients and see how it turns out!

Total eclipse

Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina.
Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina. See the gallery for hi-res photos.

We traveled to northwestern South Carolina to visit family and view the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – and were totally impressed!  We launched a boat onto Lake Keowee so we could view the partial eclipse and, if needed, relocate to avoid any late-arriving clouds that might obscure our view of the total eclipse.  Darkness arrived suddenly as the moon crept into place, lasting a bit longer than two minutes.  At this point we experienced a 360-degree sunset.

Although I made no specific plans to do serious photography, I found my Nikon D500 with 300mm telephoto was  capable of capturing decent shots of the eclipse, hand-held.  Looking forward to the 2024 eclipse in New Hampshire!

eclipse

South Carolina

We’re just back from ten lovely days in South Carolina on the shores of Kiawah Island near Charleston.  With lots of family nearby and abundant greenspace around the island, I had plenty of interesting opportunities for photography.

  • A general photo collection, including wildlife, family, and the launch of Chinese lanterns on New Year’s Eve: [smugmug].
  • A surprise encounter with bottlenose dolphins in the straights next to Kiawah Island, while they were strand feeding:  [smugmug].
  • An attempt at dark-sky photography of the new crescent moon, Orion, and the Milky Way:  [smugmug].

    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.
    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.

Around the world… and home

Almost a year away from home.

We’re home!  After just 24 days less than a year away from home, we’re back.  According to the airline, we flew 29,000 miles, from Boston to Paris to Bangalore to Sydney to Auckland to Fiji to Charleston to Boston, not to mention all the layovers in between.

It’s nice to be back, although a little strange.  The house is pretty much the same, though I now see it through different eyes.  It seems huge, and we seem to have so much stuff.  The cat recognizes us, and seems to he happy that we’re back.  We’re buried in boxes, having shipped home almost two dozen bags and boxes as well as the 10 checked and 6 carry-on bags we brought with us (and which, believe it or not, I managed to fit into my Prius along with all five of us, to get home from the bus stop.)

I’m not sure I’ll be adding much to this blog for a while. I think it will be nice to not be traveling.  If I find some time, I might dig through some of the videotape I shot while in India; although I focused most on still photos, some of the videos might be fun.  


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