It's not often that I find something that is so mind-blowing, so amazing, so unique that I'm speechless, but that's exactly what happened during a recent trip to Myrtle Beach. A scant 20-mile jaunt down US-17 South (strip mall, chain restaurant and beach shop heaven) is Murrells Inlet. And a mile off the main drag stands Brookgreen Gardens, an 80-year-old, 9000 acre sanctuary that houses a small zoo (nice), finely manicured gardens (impressive) and nearly 1,500 sculptures by a variety of American artists (astounding). The works, mostly bronze and marble, are labors of love by artists, many of whom are long-deceased, that are tenderly cared for by the passionate caretakers of Brookgreen Gardens.
In a way, it's like a trip to a mysterious garden village in France, as well as a journey back in time to an era when wealthy Americans bestowed their communities with parks, museums, libraries and other aesthetic gifts designed to uplift the spirits of visitors. And in 2012, I'm thrilled to have been the beneficiary of the creators of Brookgreen Gardens. I only had half-a-day there, but could easily go back again and again just to take it all in. What a treasure.
What Am I Reading?
"If there is love, smallpox scars are as pretty as dimples." - Japanese proverb
So begins one of the introductory quotes in this fantastic adventure/love story by Stephen King. And so, somehow, continues my Stephen King summer! Desperately in search of a great beach read, I took a shot at "Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter, but instead gravitated toward "11/22/63", King's 849 page time traveling opus that came out last year and, despite the difficulties its weight caused me as I trudged through airports, I couldn't put it down. He is simply an amazing storyteller and this book, where the hero attempts to go back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK in 1963 (among other more personal missions). I was surprised to have two different people working poolside ask me about the book, so I guess Stephen King really is a perennial summer read.