I’ve always relaxed and let me breath out a notch when I get back to the Lowcountry and can smell that rich earthy aroma of the mud.
Everybody in my very large and extended family on the island said “puff mud” when I was growing up.
I didn’t hear “pluff” mud, the actual name, until I lived in Charleston in the 70s.
An “L” isn’t the only thing my family has dropped!
So puff mud, really pluff mud, is a very fine grained sediment that’s completely saturated with water.
It’s the mud along the edges of the creeks and rivers here. You can sink up to your hips in it if you don’t know where to step and it smells wonderful (or horrible if you don’t like it), like the memory of everything that’s lived in the marsh.
But if you hold the Lowcountry in your heart, it’s the smell of coming home.
From the Lowcountry Blues Collection
Collection Release Date: April 30th (VIP Preview for My Email List on April 29th)
From The Lowcountry Collection by Mary Bentz Gilkerson, inspired by sights and scents of the South Carolina/Georgia Lowcountry, a magical rich area full of captivating odors – salty air, hot sun on warm cedars and pines, and the fecund rich tang of puff mud…
I got stopped dead in my tracks by a question not long ago.
“What’s the low country?”
For anyone raised below the Fall Line in South Carolina, the question is unimaginable.
The Lowcountry (one word, capitalized) is a magical rich area full of sights and scents that you can’t find anywhere else on earth.
The scent of the Lowcountry… A captivating odor of salty air, hot sun on warm cedars and pines, and the fecund rich tang of puff mud…
A land full of water, creeks and rivers that mark the time by the rise and fall of the tides.
Sea islands that march from Charleston to Savannah facing the winds of the Atlantic.
A land full of ghosts, a liminal place where the separation between the worlds gets thin at times.
Pat Conroy captured it perfectly in The Prince of Tides, “To describe our growing up in the low country of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, ‘There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.’ ”
That taste of the Lowcountry has been in my mouth and in my studio since January.
There’s no where better to catch the Lowcountry flavor than Edisto Island and Savannah, and I’ve been painting up a storm in both places.
Stay tuned this coming month to watch all the goodness unfold as the paintings start peeking out of the studio!
Just imagine broad wide open marshes flickering with reflected light from a myriad of tiny creeks running through them. Skies so wide open you can watch storms roll in from miles away.
And then there are the hundreds of live oak and moss covered back roads looping around those marshes, opening out to fields full of rich produce.
I’m heading out next week to paint plein air on one of the most beautiful of the Sea Islands, Edisto, just south of Charleston. This paradise has changed very little over the last 50 years, escaping much of the over-development of other coastal areas.
I grew up spending my summers on “The Island” and really look forward to sharing one of my favorite places on earth with other painters.
I’m looking forward to sharing some of next week’s paintings with y’all too!
It’s an odd feeling to drive a narrow road between two cornfields with the sea of green stalks rising up over you. Almost overnight the corn in the fields is taller than the car, almost taller than me.
The line of trees in the distance rises up out of the corn, but looks like it’s lifting itself up to clear the stalks.
$235 (unframed) + $10 shipping and handling in the Continental US