I had a quick business trip to Charleston last week. I met the others right on East Bay Street, was done by 5:00, arranged to meet my business colleague for dinner at 7:30, and hit the streets with my camera. It had rained all the way down, and it was still cloudy most of my walk, but this town doesn't take bad pictures in any weather. All around me were other people with cameras.
I walked over to our favorite cafe for a glass of wine - something I had to do alone. I think I will only take my dearest and my family to this spot - it's that personal. But that doesn't mean I can't tell all of you to visit it. Quite authentic French food - not fancy, just the best. I advise a Rendezvous Tray for Two - cheeses, pates, sausicon, breads, fruit, olives, cornichons, mustards, and the wine pairing of their choice (our first was a Bergerac - a name full of literary and romantic memories for us). It's on Broad Street, near the Four Corners of the Law, if you want to look for it.
But even more personal, and full of memories for us, is Adgers Wharf. Twenty five years ago, when we first went to Charleston as a young married couple, the waterfront was a mass of rotting piers, black mud, and oily water. But there was one wharf you could walk out on, and the view over the river, and back towards the town, was refreshing - especially for a pair of introverts looking for a quiet place to talk and recharge batteries after a morning in the streets.
Now the wharf is still there, but the area is clean, full of green rushes at the shore, and the waterfront has been made into a park edged with palmettos, live oaks, and multi-million dollar condos. The piers are gone, and so are the pelicans and cormorants that used to fight over them. The sense of "all of Charleston" spread out behind you is lost due to the expensive multi-storied buildings.
But the overall effect of the park is beautiful, children play in two large fountains, there is a new wharf on the other end of the park with swinging benches, and the area is now even more of a trysting place for romantic strolls and kissing couples.
Here we are, over twenty years ago, on Adgers Wharf, using the timer on our new camera for the first time. This was the mid eighties, glasses were larger and hair was longer (though I was on the back end of that fashion). Berets were never in style, however. It's the same beret in recent photos of me, and they still aren't. (Neither, really, are bow ties - but I love to wear them, too, and I wore one to my meeting on East Bay Street.) To the left of us is the Coast Guard rescue station, which is still there - with the same boats, I believe.
The important things don't change.
>>>> Appendix de Grenouille # 26 <<<< Though our romances are as short as Printemps, and we do not stay together like Steve and his cheri (who have endured long enough to inspire music, oui, a national anthem of their own), our longing for l'amour is legendary. We male grenouilles fill the spring nights with our chansons d'amour. In Charleston, Steve heard the tres loud chorus of pining Rain Frogs, singing from every fountain and manicured lawn beside the grande maisons of East Bay Street. As early as Februare the sounds of the deep urges of tiny cousins, the Spring Peepers, fill the night and bringing hope to winter weary Southerners. Our l'amour may not be long, but it is well sung, passionate, and remembered with melancholy sweetness.