Charleston Style and Design

SUM 2013

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CURRENTS REFLECTIONS A HEART OF GOLD A former exchange student remembers her Lowcountry friend H is feet were wide, and he could rarely fnd a pair of shoes that ft him comfortably, so he preferred boat shoes. One day his wife, while folding laundry, shared an anecdote with me regarding the peculiarity of his feet. He and his brothers grew up on a dairy farm in Summerville in the 1940s. They would get up before sunrise each day to milk the cows. After the Great Depression, owning shoes was a luxury. Therefore he walked barefoot until he reached school age. This, it was suggested, accounted for his broad feet. I was born almost 40 years after him, some 4,000 miles away in Macedonia, a landlocked country smaller than South Carolina. There weren't many privately owned farms in my homeland, and the cold weather throughout the year, except during the summer, required anything but boat shoes. Nothing in our backgrounds 102 CHARLESTON STYLE & DESIGN | SUMMER 13 suggested that our paths would ever cross, except my early infatuation with anything Anglo-Saxon, which is why I ended up as an exchange student and found myself one summer day in the late 1990s at the door- On pontoon boat rides down the Ashley River, I learned to tie knots. I joined him and his grandchildren for crabbing near Morris Island. step of his house. I was about to meet the family who would host me for the next year. It was during that academic year that I got acquainted with everything Southern through his and his family's eyes. I heard about the ocean's wonders while rocking on the porch of their Folly Beach house. And I experienced the ocean's power on a deepsea fshing trip. When I got seasick he fed me crackers and held me as I leaned over the side. I explored Lowcountry creeks in a small boat and watched alligators repose in the shade. On pontoon boat rides down the Ashley River, I learned to tie knots. I joined him and his grandchildren for crabbing near Morris Island. In Summerville, I made my frst attempts at Southern cooking. He showed me how to clean and cook founder and properly marinate shrimp. He taught me how to carve a ham on Thanksgiving, and introduced me to oysters, grilled steaks, boiled sweet potatoes and carrots, and pecan pie made by my host mother, his wife. At some moment during this time I decided I wanted to learn more about this place, cherished by people who fnd joy in taking their dogs to the fshing pond on Saturday mornings to let them swim. I spent the next four years in Charleston for college and grew enormously attached to its splendor. And although I left to head north and eventually back to Europe, not a day goes by that I don't refect on the place and the people that I have come to call home and family. The man with the wide feet has since departed this world, but I still hear his deep Southern drawl and I know: It was not the weather, not the beach, not the ocean, not the boat trips. It was not the food. It was a man with a heart of gold who made me fall in love with South Carolina. Ana Angelova is a freelance researcher, born and raised in Macedonia and educated in Charleston. She currently lives in France. She dedicates this essay to her Lowcountry hosts, the Tupper family.

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