Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.
Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.
(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)
Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.
While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.
The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.
Water in several South Carolina rivers remains high after flooding reached levels unseen in a quarter-century.
A combination of a wet spring and heavy rains earlier this month pushed several rivers over their banks, including the Broad River, which had risen at least 15 feet when I visited it last week.
Normally, in the scene shown above, rocks are visible, turtles, river otter and fish are readily evident, and the foundations of a train bridge destroyed during the War Between the States can be seen.
However, flooding, exacerbated by heavy rains in the northern part of the state, had pushed the river over its banks to a degree that metal picnic tables normally far out of reach of the river were barely above water.
Even more fascinating was an area approximately a mile to the west, the location of an abandoned rail bridge converted into a walking path over the past half decade.
For 98 percent of the year, a small stream approximately four feet across and a foot deep flows under the bridge, which is about 750 feet across.
On this day, the entire area under the bridge was flooded, up to 20 feet deep in places, and water was moving toward the Broad River, rather than simply being backed up by river overflow.
There’s something awe-inspiring about flooding, particularly when the water is on the move. Massive amounts of water cruising past at enhanced speeds can’t help but impress, especially when it’s laden with flotsam such as fallen trees.
One of the great things about the week leading up to NASCAR’s race in Darlington, S.C. – at least if you live in South Carolina – is reminiscing about the past.
Whether it’s Cale Yarborough sailing clean over the wall and coming to rest several hundred yards outside the track in the 1965 Southern 500, Ricky Craven edging Kurt Busch by .002 seconds – the closest finish in NASCAR history – in the thrilling 2003 spring race, or Johnny Mantz, the slowest of 75 drivers to qualify for the track’s inaugural race but then going on to outlast the field in a 1950 Plymouth outfitted with truck tires, Darlington has had no shortage of great moments.
The State newspaper of Columbia today focused on the man who won at the track 50 years ago this week – Joe Weatherly.
Weatherly was known as the clown prince of racing, a nickname that was well-earned, according to publication.
“He flew to races in his own plane, but never learned to read the instruments. He used gas station maps for navigation. Once, he left his Virginia home for a race in Dayton, Ohio. All was well until the Empire State Building appeared out his window,” according to The State.
“On a good day, his rental car wouldn’t be a total loss upon return. On a typical day, the car might have found the bottom of a hotel’s pool,” the paper added. “He often was as lubricated as his race car’s engine, a party animal with a knack for talking his way out of arrests.”
Weatherly, who captured NASCAR’s top division title in 1962 and ’63, won 25 races in his career. The victory at Darlington on May 11, 1963, however, would be his last.
The following is in no way is meant to make light of child abuse, but sometimes you just have to shake your head in amazement at the poor decisions made by some parents.
The mother of a South Carolina middle school student who was being suspended has been arrested after authorities said she walked into the school and slapped the wrong child.
Tyshekka Collier, 36, went to Fairforest Middle School in Spartanburg County Wednesday morning to pick up her son.
When Collier walked into the office, she saw a boy sitting in the office with his head down. Mistaking him for her son, she slapped him in the face, according to Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputies.
However, the boy Collier struck was sick and was sitting on a couch waiting for his mother to pick him up, according to Fairforest Middle School Principal Ty Dawkins.
Dawkins said once Collier realized she had slapped the wrong boy, she apologized, and then walked over to her son and began to slap him for getting in trouble, hitting him in the head and face and knocking him to the ground, according to a Greenville television station.
Collier was charged with disturbing school and assault and battery. It wasn’t known if she had a lawyer.
Her three children are in protective custody, according to the Associated Press.
The depth and breadth of the New York Times’ Disunion series never ceases to amaze. The articles focus on the War Between the States, but go far beyond examinations of battles and leaders, delving into an amazing array of topics, including the medical, legal and financial aspects of the 1861-65 period.
Recently, Disunion, which is written by a variety of historians, academics and other individuals knowledgeable on specific aspects of the war, focused on the ingenious concept of cotton bonds, financial instruments issued by the Confederacy in 1863.
In January of that year, the Confederate Congress secretly authorized bankers at the noted Paris-based financial house of Erlanger et Cie. to underwrite $15 million of Confederate bonds, to be denominated in British pounds or French francs.
“But unlike ordinary bonds backed only by the faith and credit of the issuing country, at the option of the holder an Erlanger certificate could be converted into a receipt for a pre-specified quantity of cotton,” Phil Leigh writes for Disunion.
This was important because Confederate currency was all but worthless in Europe at that point of the war.
The conversion rate for the cotton bonds was fixed at 12 cents a pound, regardless of the commodity’s market price, at the time about 48 cents. In addition, the bonds paid a 7 percent annual interest rate.
In a city noted for extraordinary churches, the French Huguenot Church stands out among Charleston’s houses of worship.
Completed in 1845, the Huguenot Church was the first Gothic Revival building constructed in the South Carolina port city. Nearly 170 years later, it is the only independent Huguenot church in the United States.
Also known as the French Protestant Church, it is a stuccoed-brick structure with three bays in the front and back and six bays along the sides. Each bay is divided by narrow buttresses topped by elaborate pinnacles, and the three front windows are topped with cast-iron crockets with a battlement parapet surrounding the top of the church.
The interior consists of walls with plaster ribbed-grained vaulting, with marble tablets etched with names of Huguenot families such as Ravenel, Porcher, de Saussure, Huger and Mazyck.
The French Huguenot Church was founded around 1681 by Protestant refugees escaping persecution in France.
“From 1680 through 1760, hundreds of Huguenots arrived in the Lowcountry, seeking religious freedom and safety from persecution. Many abandoned considerable wealth and social prominence simply for the opportunity to practice their Protestant faith,” according to John E. Cuttino, president of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina.
The perfume of longleaf pine pitch is one of the Southeast’s inherent charms.
The wonderful fragrance is particularly evident on hot summer days, evoking an aromatic reminder of an era when forests of Pinus palustris were found throughout the region, before clear-cutting reduced longleaf populations by more than 95 percent, to be replaced by faster growing pine species.
Today, about 3 million acres of longleaf pines remain in the region. The good news is the trees and their environment are making a slow but steady comeback.
“Many Southeastern landowners have converted parts of their farmland to use for contract hunting, fishing, camping and even bird-watching. The ecosystem supported by native longleaf pines fits perfectly into the business plan for such rural enterprises,” according to Southeast Farm Press.
In addition, timber from longleaf pines is very desirable because it tends to be long, straight and has tight growth rings, the publication added.
Not only does longleaf pine timber tend to bring a premium price compared to pines species such as the loblolly, but longleafs also produce a huge amount of pine straw, which can also be sold to help offset the costs associated with the latter’s longer growing period.
Longleaf ecosystems have other benefits, as well. These include being home to 26 federally listed endangered or threatened species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise and flatwoods salamander.
Baseball’s connection to the War Between the States has long been recognized. Soldiers played ball as a way to occupy free time, of which there was a great deal in between the occasional battle or skirmish or for those in prison camps, and officers saw it as a way to keep men active during down time.
However, baseball relics from 150 years ago are exceedingly rare, partly because the generally scarcity of luxury items such as sporting goods during the war, partly because of the transiency that is the nature of army life and partly because of time itself.
Which makes the above item all the more fascinating: Slate magazine published the image earlier this week of a ball found and retrieved in 1862 in Shiloh, Tenn., amid the detritus of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles. The battle of Shiloh took place on April 6-7, 1862, and resulted in nearly 24,000 dead, wounded and missing.
The ball is inscribed: “Picked Up on the Battle Field at Shiloh by G.F. Hellum.” Hellum was an orderly for the Union Army at Shiloh. He later enlisted as a soldier in Co. B of the 69th Colored Infantry.
(The National Park Service’s Soldiers and Sailors System, which details many of the men who fought in the war, spells Hellum’s last name as “Hellem.”)
The artifact is what is known as a “lemon peel ball,” looser and softer than today’s baseballs, and is hand-stitched in a figure-eight pattern with thick twine, according to Slate’s Frank Ceresi.
Military censorship has been part and parcel of war reporting worldwide for at least a century.
Nearly half the French divisions on the Western Front mutinied to one degree or another in 1917, their will weakened by three years of devastating losses and no prospects of success as World War I dragged on. However, revelations on the extent and intensity of the mutinies, which included the execution of several dozen French soldiers, weren’t disclosed until 1967, and some information has still not been made available even after 96 years.
The British, in the same conflict, often didn’t even disclose to family members that their loved ones had been executed, choosing to bury men convicted and executed for crimes such as desertion in the same area as other soldiers killed in action and awarding the families pensions.
And as recently as 2004, the US military did its best to lay down a smokescreen surrounding the friendly-fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
The thought being, more often than not, that the morale of troops and/or folks at home would be damaged by the truth.
That apparently wasn’t a concern in the South during the War Between the States.
South Carolina’s Edgefield Advertiser ran a story on May 11, 1864, which detailed the execution of Pvt. Henry Jerome of the 17th South Carolina Infantry regiment in Charleston.
MILITARY EXECUTION – About half-past ten o’clock yesterday morning, the Race Course was the scene of a military execution. Private Henry Jerome, of Company A, 17th Regiment, S.C.V., who twice had been guilty of the crime of deserting his colors, paid the penalty with his life. The execution took place in the presence of Major Blanding’s command of the 1st S.C. Artillery and an infantry regiment – the firing squads being detached from the ranks of the Regulars. The condemned, a man of mature years, short in stature, and of quiet demeanor, was brought to the ground in an ambulance, attended by Rev. Mr. Aldrich, Chaplain of the 1st S.C. Artillery. After the last prayer had been said, the culprit refusing to have his eyes bandaged, knelt beside his coffin. At the first fire, he fell insensible, having received several mortal wounds in the chest, and within two minutes all signs of animation had disappeared. Private Jerome was, we understand, a native of Chester District, and leaves a wife and three children.