Celebrating long life and lightning bugs in Lowcountry


From time to time, we stop for a moment in this space to comment on a collection of topics. Let’s just call it Pep’s Potpourri.

Today’s pit stop includes everything from celebrating a long life to a column that seemed to shine a light on many reader’s memories: lightning bugs.

It’s amazing how a random observation can generate such unexpected but welcome reaction. I must have heard from every corner of lower South Carolina regarding what I felt were a dwindling numbers of fireflies.

Apparently, there’s no shortage of their blinking lights in Awendaw, Wadmalaw, Edisto, Moncks Corner, Summerville or even parts of James Island.

One reader, though, was sure they were primarily blown to other parts of the state in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo.

It’s good to hear they’re still glowing in the more rural, wooded areas. I was beginning to think they’d all packed their bags and moved to the mountains.

Meanwhile, I stopped by the Angel Oak with my 80-year-old mother who visited recently. She had never seen it and I was interested in seeing it again.

Being in that old tree’s presence is humbling. I prefer to stand and look at it from a distance, though many others choose to get as close as possible for their pictures.

The tree’s expansive trunk and the massive, heavy limbs that droop under their own weight still create a wide-eyed wonder, no matter how many times you pull off on that dirt road on Johns Island.

It’s touted as the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River. I’m thankful there are those trying to save it and the surroundings. It’s still magnificent and quietly regal in advancing years.

And while we’re speaking of grand “elders,” Hager Mazyck Smalls will soon celebrate her 100th birthday. Born Sept. 15, 1913, in Christ Church Parish in Mount Pleasant, she was one of the area’s premier sweetgrass basket makers. Her daughter, Helen, 63, still sells baskets in the City Market.

Smalls taught all six of her children, girls and boys, to make those baskets. Even a few of her 22 grandchildren learned how to weave the strands from their grandmomma.

As one of 20 children, she worked on the family farm before marrying at the age of 17. Her husband died in his 70s, 30 years ago.

Can you imagine all that she’s seen, both good and bad, since 1913?

Happy 100th birthday!

There is simply no better time of the year around here than between now and Thanksgiving.

Much of that is because of the college football season. It’s simply the perfect sports season because of its rhythm. There’s the buildup to the game, the game itself, then the day or so afterward to dissect the game. Before you know it, it’s time for the buildup to the next game.

And once we get through September, we get to enjoy the Lowcountry’s version of autumn. With all due respect to rejuvenation and the smells of spring, fall might just be even better.

So there you go. What did we learn? Nobody’s seen all that the Angel Oak or even Ms. Smalls has witnessed in her 100 years. And that no matter your age, there’s still plenty to see in this Lowcountry of ours. And for most of it, there’s no admission.

Reach Warren Peper at 937-5577 or wpeper@postandcourier.com.