In an effort to have more experiences and southern food, Sean and I headed to Savannah for a few days. I spent a hazy gap year there ages ago but it was his first introduction to this quirky-in-the-best-way town. A food centered post is cooking (Ha! Pun totally intended.) but these other nuggets strike me as share worthy too.
Before we go any further, I should mention that I am not, nor do I aspire to be, a writer. e.e. cummings is one of my favorite poets because he stuck it to the capitalization and punctuation man. My thoughts are all over the place and I prefer to talk with people so I can have the added benefit of body language to both help convey my ideas and serve as a visual cue for when I've confused the bijeebers out of others. That said, I have things I want to say and chances are you are either family or friend (and if not - HI! how'd you end up here?) so just put your judgey self away.
I live in an old city too but there is something different about historic Savannah, a lushness that may exist in DC but is buried under a thick layer of drive, ambition and severity. (Pretty harsh words and almost certainly winter induced but I'm going to keep it here anyway) Maybe it's all the flowering trees or that Spanish moss hanging from Savannah's large old trees. There's something romantic and maybe even a little sexy about that stuff. Or perhaps it's the lovely old and beautifully restored architecture.
Total bummer tangent alert: The annual home and garden tour started the day we left so I didn't see nearly as much as I could have and missed out on by mere hours the talk of coordinated easements and tax credits for historical architecture preservation.
There are tour options a plenty - by bike, trolley and hearse but we did our best to cover as much grounds as possible by foot in part because of the freedom walking offers and also to work off the ridiculous amount of eating we did. The streets and sidewalks are more often than not uneven old brick - hence the complete lack of high heel sightings. I have a thing for porches and these didn't disappoint - detailed old wall mounted fixtures - some of them still gas burners - and even some ornate chandeliers.
Total bummer tangent alert #2: I learned a lesson on this trip. My camera is more valuable than an amex card and way better at photos than my crappy cell phone. From this day forward I will leave the once accepted everywhere but not so much anymore card at home, while never venturing anywhere without my canon. I have nothing but memories of those stunning light fixtures.
I enjoy standing in a place and thinking about the other people that have been there in the days of yore. (Standing in the doorway of George Washington's bedroom where he died at Mount Vernon gives me chills for this reason) This was easy to do at the Owens-Thomas House. It's not a huge place but the guide makes up for it with a lot of information and stories - which is good - I like to get my money's worth. She also provided a lot of information of the process and decision making that is involved to historians and preservationists when sharing a historical place with the public. For example, there is a divide in opinion as to whether old light fixtures should be displayed as they were in the time of oil and candles or wired for modern day electricity. Electricity requires less imagination on the part of the public but oil burners are more accurate even if they can't be lit today for safety reasons. I vote for keepin' it real.
Other interesting facts shared on the tour: 1) Artisan applied faux finishes were deemed more desirable than the real deal as it took more time and therefore cost more money to hire someone to paint faux marble moldings and columns than have actual marble installed.
and 2) "Haint blue" paint on ceilings was introduced by enslaved african people and their descendants. The color symbolized water which was thought to be uncrossable by evil spirits. Something to think about when you next look up.
savannah: More Than History
While there's plenty of old to ponder, Savannah has a contemporary, I'd even say youthful, vibe but writing that somehow makes me sound not so much youthful doesn't it? My guess is the hip energy is a direct result of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). When I lived there SCAD did too but I don't remember it being everywhere. Really, take a walk and you're sure to find some big old beauty with a placard out front declaring it the SCAD studio, or fashion design, or admissions building. Historic Savannah is SCAD's campus. With that many students, professors and staff with an eye toward form, function, beauty and craftsmanship it's no surprise the town is bursting with art, interior design studios and independent coffee shops.
The Jepson Center houses contemporary art and architecture - I got to see Warhol's "Annie Oakley" print for the first time IRL. love. And considering the triple play ticket for the Owens-Thomas House, the Jepson Center and the Telfair Museum is only a few dollars more than a ticket for one of these places why wouldn't you visit all three? Go on, treat yourself.
The last thing I want to share is that everything you heard about Savannians (is that a real word? I guess it is now) is true. These folks were friendly. None of that avert your eyes when crossing paths or busying yourself with your phone to avoid human interaction. "Hello"s were exchanged while walking through the gazillion squares and I personally witnessed multiple strangers introduce themselves and start conversations at restaurants! Go ahead and gasp - I know you want to.
If only I had had my camera to get a photo of the very good looking group with cocktails in lovely glassware on the sidewalk of Whitaker Street. I suppose we all look stylish with a coupe in hand. They noticed we were sans beverage and insisted we remedy that so being guests of the land we obliged by popping in and joining the festivities at this newly opened tiny but scandinavian white bright General Store. For the record, there was no burlap or grain in site but plenty of cool new and vintage porrons, enameled cast-iron cookware, cookbooks and the always unexpected but useful rain barrel. Hmm, I wonder what the name of that place is? I'll have to look it up on my next visit or you can let me know after yours.