It's not hard to imagine what Scarlett O'Hara might've pinned to her boards had Pinterest existed in 1861 -- at least, it's not hard to imagine it when you've been cyberstalking the likes of Kim Poovey of Beaufort, which I might've done recently ... a lot.
Poovey's page, which has more than 1,700 followers, is almost completely a collection of boards inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian eras. They're awash in lace and florals, in silks, in parasols and in slippers. There are painted porcelains and proper tea tablescapes. There are photos of British castles and artwork. If you can spare some hours, you could easily lose yourself in the resulting narrative that Poovey has crafted through her epic pinning.
I flipped through them all.
But let me explain my stalking before this gets too creepy.
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I met Poovey late last month at an after-hours event at The Arsenal on Craven Street, where the Beaufort History Museum is. She was wearing a Victorian-era dress, one of many she has made herself. Her hair was pinned back and parted -- but parted with a soft certainty, not a Mary Todd Lincoln severity. The hairstyle said, "I know more than you do about a lot of things, and I'm very happy to share this knowledge" rather than "My head hurts, and I'm about to take it out on Abe."
"I heard you're a really good storyteller," I told Poovey when we were introduced. She thanked me, and within a minute I was invited into her world, a place of imagination and painstaking accuracy, of gumption, commitment and curiosity.
"Beaufort," she later told me, "opens its arms and embraces the eccentric in all of us. People come here because they are enchanted with the history."
She is not wrong. It is part of why living here -- and hanging out with someone who has the theme from "Gone With the Wind" as her husband's ringtone and who decaffeinates her own tea -- is so wonderful.
Poovey is a regular volunteer at the museum and calls herself a historical re-enactress. She works part time as a school psychologist at Laurel Bay and travels the Southeast to perform for church groups and book clubs and at weddings, dinner clubs and house tours. She portrays historical figures such as Jane Austen and characters like Scarlett O'Hara and Emma Brown, the protagonist from Poovey's first historical novel, "Truer Words," which is set in the Lowcountry. She was even cast as Mrs. Stanton in Robert Redford's film "The Conspirator."
Oh, she's a prolific blogger too. Her blogs include "The Thrifty Reenactor: Portraying Wealth Historically," "Tales from the Lavender Loft: Stories of the Past to Entertain the Present" and my favorite, "Bearton Abbey at Canterbeary Lane," a soap opera-like series that features photos of antique teddy bears acting out dramatic scenes. I realize what this sounds like, but you have to see it to understand its charm. In one story, Hobbs the butler says to Harley, his wayward brother who comes to visit while the Beartons are away at a ball, "I'm your only brother. Now, tell me what you've done" -- the tension somehow portrayed tightly and clearly by two very inanimate objects.
At The Arsenal, Poovey talked for a little about an upcoming fundraiser, a Victorian tea that will be held Tuesday at the Dataw Island Club, to celebrate the museum's latest exhibit, which she curated, called "What They Wore: Fashion and Finery of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras."
"I just love it," she said.
The invitation to the event featured Poovey in sepia, wearing a gauzy white dress and bonnet, one hand over her mouth in a coquettish fashion as she exposes a bit of stockinged ankle. Who doesn't want to learn more about a time when exposing your ankle was akin to being a barely dressed Beyonce at this year's Met Costume Gala?
The photo on the invitation is the perfect representation of who Poovey is as a person, an anachronism immersed in the history of her rightful era while embracing all the freedoms and advancement of the current one.
"I was the shyest, quietest child," she told me at City Java in Beaufort last week. When she finally realized the truth about herself at 35 -- that she was a Victorian at heart -- she said she felt free for the first time in her life.
"I think God made me around the time of the Civil War but had to put me aside because of everything going on," she said. "He forgot about me until 1965."
"This is what I am."
Poovey described herself as "cross-dressing" to the present, something she did well in a boho-chic white blouse, cameo necklace, jeans and $5 gold kids' eyeglass frames from Walmart, which amazingly looked the part in either world.
Her husband, Darryl, also takes part in Poovey's time travels. He portrays a Civil War blockade runner.
"He's popular," she said. "People want to take his picture because they don't usually see a gentleman at re-enactments.
"And because he's cute."
The gentility, morality and kindness of the Victorian era are qualities Poovey thinks are often missing from today's culture.
"Ufffff," she said when she considered some of the more seedy trappings of modernity.
But, she said, women back then had a lot of the same worries, loves and desires that we do today. Which is why it's so fun to consider what would've happened if Scarlett O'Hara had an iPad, a night to herself on Netflix and an Internet full of silk gowns to pin.