Strong but Fragile…

imageIt happened again. I broke down and cried. And once again, it took me by surprise. As I stood in line waiting my turn, I saw masses of people-all kinds of folks- from this country and from foreign lands waiting their turn too. Like the tangled historic roots among cobblestones, bricks, asphalt and concrete-their faces were solemn even anxious as they quietly waited, I’m sure mine was too. I read again the history of it. The difficulties, the immense courage of men in another day and time, the decision made knowing what it would cost them.image

I saw so many other landmarks, so much more history, walked in the old cobbled paths read about for a lifetime. I didn’t break down at Betsy’s House or in Ben’s Business, I didn’t even break down as the tour guide pointed out- place after place where history was being made so many years ago. I didn’t break down at Christ’s Church, though I was deeply moved.

Dare I say it? I love this country. I love the red, blue and white star spangled flag and even though it is off-key I do love to sing the national anthem. I still put my hand over my heart when I pledge the flag. Every. Single. Time. I get exasperated with my country, the kind of exasperation I feel when I find a new wrinkle or another gray hair. Not the kind of exasperation that would ever make me want to give up on her, my roots are among those cobblestones, bricks and concrete too.image

This country is Strong and Freedom has always been Fragile. What started as a Dream, a Pursuit and a Bill of a Dozen Right Ideals were formed in the Fiery Furnace, a Foundry filled with the lives and fortunes of a few good men. On a heavy wooden beam their hopes were mounted and hoisted up with the strong belief that there was a better way to form a more perfect union. No one noticed it was imperfect, that a hairline crack had formed. After loudly proclaiming freedom-there was always the possibility that it could break, the ringing could be silenced and the whole idea would become a shining part of world history. image

A dozen years ago, I saw it. I broke down and cried. It took me by surprise then and it took me by surprise again last week. I saw masses of people yearning to be near her, I saw my own family pause by the Liberty Bell- The Liberty Bell spoke to me gently in passing and then I cried.  She stands silent, she stands in full view of Constitution Hall- a Strong Fragile Lady aging gracefully, unruffled and calm.. Even her tiresome quarreling children became quiet and reverent, desperately trying to be more perfect, more united in her presence. Beneath the hem of her garment, created equal with certain inalienable rights-Liberty’s children share her Love of Freedom.  This Southern Belle knows a true Lady when she sees one. Lady Liberty, I salute you, Darlin’.

May God’s generous Grace, His unmatched Mercy and His abiding Love continue to shine His Glorious Light upon you.image

Our Holiday Vacation was an inspiring trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The City of Brotherly Love and the Birthplace of Freedom-where the Lovely Ladies are Strong, the Goodlookin’ Men are Brave and the Children of Liberty strive to be Far Above Average.*

Love y’all, Camellia

*quote- is a play on Garrison Keiller’s statement about the fictional Lake Woebegone – ‘Where the women are strong, the men are goodlooking and the children are all above average.’

All photographs are mine- from Old City, Betsy Ross House, Benjamin Franklin’s Print Shop, Elsfeth Alley, Constitution Hall and of course- Liberty Bell Center

Winter Mystery Vacation?

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There’s nothing like dreamin’ and armchair travel. It was cool this morning, the screen porch beckoned-coffee in hand, I was pondering where to go on our winter family vacation. October is not too early to plan it. I’ve been schemin’ and coming up with plans I hope will be fun, in cold climes or warm. The porch seemed like a good place to think about it; the leaves haven’t turned, some leaves have just curled up and died. That’s the South for you.We like travelling in the United States, there’s nothing like America, y’all!   Last summer was the first time I planned a Mystery Vacation, no one knew except me, where we were going! I’ve added a few destinations for the Winter Holidays. I thought I’d let you in on it; maybe you can help me plan another Mystery Vacation, this time from Santa!

  • Seattle: There’s the City Tour by bus. Seattle seems to come alive at night during the holidays with Snowflake Lane at Bellevue Square; fake snowflakes fall and crazy elves climb up platforms all around the shops. Then there is the Space Needle, the Pike Place Market where they throw fish, Dale Chihuly’s blown glass, Winterfest at Seattle Center, the house boat village where ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ was filmed, not to mention all of those lovely coffee shops! Add a day trip to Victoria or Vancouver by Ferry, perhaps go to Butchart Gardens which looks amazing even in Winter.
  • Charleston: A vastly different place-though chilly to us, it is still just jacket weather during the holidays. There are carriage rides and wonderful food, fountains, historic churches and plantations, like Middleton. Just a little over two hours away, by car, we could take a day trip to Savannah, for sure stopping by Gretsch® Guitar Shop to see our friend Fred Gretsch, then passing through Beaufort on our way back.
  • Los Angeles: There’s a Hollywood studio tour, the Walk of Stars, all those Movie Star Mansions, Venice Beach with a ride on the iconic Ferris Wheel, a Whale Watching Tour from the harbor, not to mention Santa Monica pier, beautiful Santa Barbara and more…
  • Louisville is a city I’ve been musing about- with a day trip to Lexington, taking in the gorgeous countryside of the Bourbon Trail, going out to Churchill Downs and eating a Hot Brown  at the beautiful Brown Hotel.
  • Williamsburg is always on my Christmas travel list- the historic Inn is where Queen Elizabeth and other heads of state have stayed, the Village Homes and Governor’s Palace is decked out for Christmas. Over by William and Mary there is a small French restaurant where waiters walk around with a huge terrines ladling out Chocolate Mousse. Who could pass up the Trellis restaurant where Julia Child worked with the pastry chef to come up with the famous ‘Death by Chocolate’? Then, top off the trip with a day tour of Monticello in holiday dress.

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  • Philadelphia is another great place for a family trip. It looks very interesting and fun during the holidays. There is a very large exhibit in Reading Terminal Market of model trains, the iconic Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and as I understand it, the little cobblestone street where Betsy Ross lived comes alive during the holidays; best of all, eating the famous Phillie Cheesesteaks!
  • And finally, I have looked longingly at Fort Myers, we could visit the Winter Mansion of Henry Ford and the Laboratory and Winter Estate of Thomas Edison. The warm beauty of Captiva Island and Sanibel’s shell strewn beaches,the gorgeous homes of Naples would be terrific day trips from Fort Myers which is warm and beautiful during Christmas.

So, which would you choose? I’m open for suggestions, there may other places better to explore. Where would you want to go? But shh…this is a Secret Santa Surprise! October is not too early to plan a Winter Mystery Vacation! As soon as the destination is decided, I’ll just give them hints bit by bit and see if they can guess…I know we’ll have fun wherever we go!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Images used were marked- Public Domain from AOL images