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Portraits Of Georgialina

By Tom Poland
web posted April 17, 2015

LIFE DOWN SOUTH – With good reason, I now refer to the two-state region I travel and write about so much as “Georgialina.” It’s a region that runs from the northeast corner of Georgia and the wild Chattooga down to Athens and over to Lincoln County, Georgia, down Savannah way and across all of South Carolina.

My sisters and I lost our Mom March 26, and now that she’s gone I can write a bit about the hard time she gave me because so much of what I had written in the hometown newspaper concerned South Carolina.

“You need to get over here and write more about Lincoln County,” she told me more than once. I’d gently remind her that I write all the hometown paper columns for free and that it wasn’t always practical or possible to drive over to Lincoln County. Looking back, I wish I had.

Another time she said, “You’ve written enough about those Carolina bays. Time to find something new.” So, I began referring to the region I write about as “Georgialina.” I hoped would make Mom a bit happier.

My new book, Georgialina, A Southland As We Knew It, will be released by the USC Press in November and I will request that the book include endpaper maps of this mythical yet all-too-real land. When you explore this region, you get the opportunity to tell stories about things both unique and common but deserving. Here, then, are two portraits of Georgialina. (Visit mine and Robert Clarks’ Photo Of The Week for more startling images of the South at http://www.photooftheweek.net/)

One Peppercorn Per Year
Ornate wrought iron, rioting azaleas, and camera-softened tombstones grace Old Quaker Cemetery in Camden, South Carolina where they bespeak of living, dying, love, and legend.

In 1759, Samuel Wyly conveyed four acres at Pine Tree Hill to fellow Quakers for a place to worship and bury loved ones. The fee? One peppercorn a year, a spicy agreement set to end in 2749, though, of course, it will endure.
Who sleeps beyond the azaleas? Two Medal of Honor recipients, a South Carolina governor, three Confederate Army generals, three brothers killed in World War II, and one fabled Agnes of Glasgow, Scotland.

Agnes, stowing away on a Charleston-bound ship, followed her beloved British Army officer, Lt. Angus McPherson, to America during the Revolution. Hearing her lover had been wounded near Camden, she set out for that town named for the first earl of Camden. Through wilderness and towns she wandered. Alas, she died without finding McPherson and Wateree Indian King Haigler buried her in that place of peppercorn fees.

To this day Agnes haunts Old Quaker Cemetery. By day, no spirits seem about but come night? It’s said a phantom floats over the azaleas and through the stones ... searching for her British lieutenant.

Rockville Crayolas
If happiness were a flower, it would be a tulip. Symbolic and iconic, perennial and showy flaunting Technicolor glory, tulips, members of the lily family, signify all this and more. Give a red or yellow tulip to declare your love.

Emblematic of eternal life, abundance, and indulgence, it so happens tulips make a fine addition to the grounds. These tulips burst into flame and fame down Rockville way just off the Maybank Highway. Consider them heralds of spring, for tulips join daffodils and crocuses as the first flowers to bloom. Faint of fragrance, the blooms’ colors seduce.

Leaning over their dark green leaves, these blooms look a bit like the tips of slightly used crayons. Blunted but beautiful from streaking the earth with primary colors. The blossoms’ waxy sheen does nothing to lessen the Crayola impression.

Suppose the sun might shine with such savagery that it melts these classic colors of red, green, and yellow into kaleidoscopic swirls. What might the gardener do? Rise at dawn and take a photo as grand as this one? Cut each bloom with care and share them with friends and neighbors? Surprise some soul marooned in the hospital? The happy answer is obvious—all of the above.

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