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Pampered by Southern hospitality in Charleston, South Carolina

© By Mike Keenan

  I am sitting in a lush green courtyard in Charleston, South Carolina at the Indigo Inn, located in the heart of the downtown's historic area. Spiked palmetto trees, flowering dogwood, painted buckeye and unknown leafy shrubs surround me in an oasis of comfort.
     Those of us who are retired may travel where we want when we want. That means winter rates while the temperature hovers at a pleasant 73 F. I daydream of fit Olympic cross country skiers, crazy luge riders in their skin-tight uniforms and bizarre aerial skiers who seemingly prefer to spend as much time upside down in the air as flat on their feet. Sipping a cool frosty drink, I regret the fact that tomorrow we leave for home in the frozen north.
     The Inn boasts some history. In the mid 1700's indigo, the plant from which blue dye was extracted was a major cash crop in South Carolina's "Lowcountry." The Lowcountry was the first region settled by Europeans and includes Charleston, Beaufort, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island. Dominated by plantations, slavery was a dominant factor. By 1850, a building was erected to serve as an indigo warehouse. That's where I now sit, one block away from the City Market, four-star restaurants, boutiques, and other shops where you may happily spend all of your excess Canadian loonies. Me, I think I will simply remain here and be pampered by antebellum southern hospitality.
     On name alone, indigo was an easy selection. I equate it with the name of Heather Reisman's bookstore empire. She is the lady who took over Chapters. Her husband, Jerry Schwartz of ONEX fame, is the guy who was lucky not to take over Air Canada. The Indigo bookstore in Burlington, just off the QEW, is a favourite stopping place for me on my way to and from Toronto. It is a little more upscale than the average Chapters bookstore. Comfortable leather chairs, delightful cool music, and vast quantities of books to read-for free, a retired reader's joy!
     Speaking of music, Mood Indigo is a tune that has been recorded by many great artists-Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, Ella Fitzgerald, Wynton Marsalis, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain and Louis Armstrong to name a few. The music exudes the relaxed, sensual charm of Charleston.
     I have purposely not kept track of the temperatures back home in Niagara. Last season, after visiting this area, we returned to Buffalo International in a snow storm. The tiny plane seemed to float from side to side, battling the high winds, trying to remain straight and true on the narrow glide path. The ground from the view above appeared as a sea of white.
     Ah, the great white North! The joy of shoveling snow, the magic opportunities for cardiac arrest. But, that's not been happening much this year. I have had to clear the driveway only a couple of times. Yes, Fort Erie enjoyed its usual "lake effect" winter, but here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, nestled inside our own "low country", this side of the mitigating escarpment, the winter has been benign. I witnessed crocuses on a local lawn, February 23! Everything is budding early in the backyard. I've been using the barbeque all winter without contracting frostbite. Mother Nature is surely amiss. That's a terrible pun; however, global warming is a phenomenon that deserves our attention.
     Rather than return home, in Charleston, one can spend an entire day visiting historic homes.
     Unfortunately, my attention now is focused on some printed propaganda written by the editor of the local paper, The Charleston Post and Courier: The gardens ..."is not about "change" or needless embellishment. It is about tranquility, constancy, and indeed, the absence of change, especially in the present climate of rapid change." Amen.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan: Indigo Inn courtyard, Southern flora, Charleston mansion, Horse-drawn tour, tours, buildings, churches, Market Hall, painter.

If you go
This Destination
as seen on
Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.charlestoncvb.com/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston,_South_Carolina
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Charleston%2C_South_Carolina

Historic Homes
Drayton Hall: http://www.draytonhall.org/
Nathaniel Russell House: http://www.historiccharleston.org/
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon: http://www.oldexchange.com/
The Aiken-Rhett House: http://www.historiccharleston.org/
The Old Powder Magazine: http://www.nscda.org/museums/southcarolina.htm

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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