Saturday, June 12, 2010

Too Hot to Handle?

It's a little early, but the dog days of summer have already arrived! This is weather usually reserved for August - temps at 95 and humidity levels about the same -which makes it feel like 103. (The term "heat index" is a term we are all too familiar with. ) So if you haven't visited Charleston in August, be prepared for a preview of it now in June. Make sure you carry a bottle of water with you at all times when outdoors. Fortunately, lots of kids these days are on street corners in the historic district ready to sell you a bottle for $1. Even if you have a bottle with you, it doesn't hurt to pick up an extra from them so you can keep pouring it in and keep hydrated, so bring a little money with you as you stroll the streets. It's amazing to think about when I was growing up here and having no air conditioning in our houses, schools and churches. The temperatures (and humidity) weren't much different then than they are today - give or take a degree or two to account for global warming! But I don't remember complaining about it back then. Of course, we are so accustomed to air conditioning these days that it makes it even more uncomfortable when we aren't inside. But I still don't like a/c much - I run it all day, of course, and like it when I'm sleeping, but I'd prefer to be outside - even in the heat. Not working, of course. Just sitting on my porch or dock and enjoying a glass of iced tea! Enjoy yourself when you come to town - but don't complain about the heat. It's hot and it's supposed to be hot. We wouldn't have it any other way!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tis the Season

It's that Spoleto time of year again! For 10 days in late May/early June, the city is abuzz with all that the arts world has to offer - art shows in the park, dance performances at the Cistern (College of Charleston), concerts on the steps of the U.S. Custom House, chamber music in the churches and theater at the Dock Street Theater. These are but a few of the venues - there are dozens more. I remember when the festival began 35 years ago. Our mayor (still in office to this day) had hit upon a brilliant idea, borrowing from the European festival of the arts in Spoleto, Italy (outside of Rome). However, locals here were a bit skeptical. But after the first two years of operating in the red, the festival took off and has been a booming success every year since - bringing hundreds of performers and followers of the arts to the city. Piccolo (or little) Spoleto offers the chance for artists and performers on a less renowned scale to show off their stuff - and at a smaller ticket price (and sometimes for free). The "Charleston Renaissance," back in the 1920s and 30s, was a great time for artists in Charleston - with not only painters but performers, writers, and musicians bursting forth at a rather unlikely time, since the city was not yet the shining star that it is today. But out of that Renaissance came Porgy (and Bess), the dance the Charleston, the jazz of the Jenkins Orphanage Band, and painters such as Alice Smith, Anna Heyward Taylor and Edwin Harleston (to name but a few). So today's Spoleto USA could have found no better home than Charleston, and the arts remain alive and well here not only during early summer but all year long! Spoleto just gives us a reason to celebrate the art heritage of this city!