Stroll through history at Mark Catesby exhibit

info@islandpacket.comAugust 14, 2012 

  • 8 ounces goat cheese, softened

    6 tablespoons fig preserves

    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    6-8 slices of baked ham, chopped

    6-8 biscuits sliced in half

    Mix everything except biscuits. Spread mixture on sliced biscuits. Serve with chilled wine or drinks. You can toast these for a few minutes if you like. Makes 6-8 servings

Three hundred years ago, Mark Catesby arrived in Charleston. He was sent here from England to collect plant specimens. Wealthy English plant collectors were crazy for unusual specimens to show off in their gardens. It was all the rage to collect plants no one else had ever seen or heard of.

Catesby was considered an old man at the time. He was 39 in a time when people didn't live much past 45. He spent four years traveling up and down the coast and throughout the Carolinas up to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

He really loved painting and drawing, but his purpose was to send plants back to his employers. He encountered all sorts of animals and birds now extinct. It must have been truly amazing.

Once, when he was a guest at a plantation on the Ashley River, he found he had slept all night with a rattlesnake in his bed. I'm sure there were probably more critters as he camped in the wild.

He watched huts being built out of palmetto fronds, and candles being made out of wax myrtle tree berries. The candle-making produced wax that was a beautiful color, and they also smelled good.

Catesby was the first artist to find and paint new plants and animals in the Lowcountry. He was the first person who recorded the fact that birds migrate. He also produced the first painting of the now-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker.

The Wells Gallery on Meeting Street in Charleston has a Mark Catesby exhibit now hanging. The Mark Catesby Tercentennial Symposium will be Nov. 7-9 in Charleston. If you are interested in seeing an interesting piece of the past and learning more about our area, don't miss this.


* Have you ever tried to walk down Alljoy or Burnt Church roads? Impossible to do so, I can attest, unless you are a very brave soul.

  • Who will be the next poet laureate of Bluffton? The late Oscar Frazier was the first. I think it is time to choose another. There must be a wonderful poet we need to know about. Let me know.

  • I have become fond of those silly animals on the Internet. You know the ones on Cheezburger Network? The animals are doing things humans do and have wacky sayings popping out of their mouths.

  • I think it is funny that some people think they are stupid. I used to think that way, too. Then I started thinking that we used to read the funny papers and laugh at some really wacky things.

    These crazy things on the Internet are, most of the time, funnier to me than any comic strip or programs on the telly. I look at my cats now and can just imagine what they are thinking or what they would say. In fact, I might just be looking at some new Internet sensations.

    * PBS will rerun Ken Burns' seven-part documentary on World War II, "The War," starting this week. Most of us have a father or grandfather who was involved in it; some of us even have a mother or grandmother who took part.

    Sixty million people were killed during this terrible war. This series shows how it was dealt with by all concerned. This is a good look at how horrible these events are and how families and soldiers both handle what they have to go through. This is a good lesson for us, but does it teach us anything?

    Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.

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