Incense & Peppermints

Posted by Stephaney Abilon on

Dear Heza and Ms. Poore,
It has been too many years since we've been neighbors on this island. So today, while I am on my bicycle, I thought I would take you along for the ride.
Rounding the corner to Officers Row, I hear music coming out of the large yellow corner house on the end. You know the one, the big house they used for filming Army Wives. The music wasn't coming from one window, it was coming out of every speaker tucked in every alcove of the house. I knew the song well and hearing it piped out of this glorious home, drifting slowly down over the shingles and posts, was the sound of Incense and Peppermints. 
Good sense, innocence, cripplin' mankind Dead kings, many things I can't define Occasions, persuasions clutter your mind Incense and peppermints, the color of time.
That song immediately set the tone for the rest of my ride, got me out of the exercise mode and back into the simply biking the island mode. I swung around toward Kevin's old house; his boat trailer in the drive was the only thing I recognized; the rest of the house felt absolutely abandoned. I know it sold, but it doesn't seem to be inhabited. 
Then, cycling past the house on the other end of Officers Row. Exiting out of a big black Toyota SUV was a lean, long haired woman. I figured she was going into that house you almost rented Heza, the absolutely amazing one with the farm sink and the great high walls. It didn't work out for you but I never forgot that place. I trust all happens for a reason as if you had moved in there you may have found it difficult to ever leave the island, and leaving was the necessary thing.
Now, passing  Adrian's house; the veterinarian. Do you remember her? You may recall that I spent several nights house sitting in that place when I first moved to the island all of those years ago. Nights swaying in a house sitting high atop stilts with the creakiness of the wind. It was eerily fantastic with its old wood planked floors and menagerie of animals. I remember I could catch a view of the ocean out of nearly every window. That house was perfect, in an earthy, third world sort of way. When she sold it, it was immediately leveled. How I wish I would have gotten access to the inside prior, as she had brought all of those crazy cool sinks back from Costa Rica and Mexico, and used all that old heart of pine for the flooring. In its place they built a house that took up both front and back lots from Ion Avenue to Middle Street. Long gone is the little hen house for Adrians' chickens. The new owners did a remarkable job of making this house look similar to the original houses on Officers Row. I was surprised to see a 'for sale' sign in the yard.
Cycling on around the corner I came upon the "Poore'' house; a big barren patch where your gorgeous wildflowers used to be. Yet, few have the magical touch of you Miss Poore. How I loved that oyster shell fireplace you designed and wild flower seeds you spread around the island. Many of them still bloom today. I pedal on and come to the house you lived in, Heza, when I first met you. They kept the original house for the most part and renovated it in such a charming way, but then attached the other house that is also lovely but has a totally different personality.
I looked the other way, toward the house that you always loved where the ornithologist lives. Hidden behind the trees, I have to strain a little to peek at what is happening back there. But this time the house alarmed me; all of the shutters were closed. It didn't feel abandoned but as if something lonely and eccentric was happening inside, and that it never recovered from the Hurricane evacuation way back in September. 
Now, passing the elementary school which I confess evokes some memory of a big hotel in 1970's Phoenix, Arizona. I can't explain it but that is the image I get every time I look at that place. Still how cool would it to be to grow up at a school by the sea?
Straight on toward Wallaces, but before we get there the house next door; I always loved that place. I think of it as the Heron House and hope they did their best to preserve those old bead board walls and that perfect kitchen. I still don't think anyone lives there and someone completely blocked our secret gate hidden in the fence to Atlanticville. Now both the fence and Atlanticville are gone.
Wallaces place looks good, like maybe a fresh coat of paint? Same color of course, the comforting Kennons' Bermuda Pink. What would we do without Wallace? Although I adore my current home, I still think of that house as my own. The twinkling lights on the porch, all of those great parties we had there, Frida Fest and the Polar Bear Plunge parties. That will always be my upstairs no matter where I live.
Around the corner from Wallaces I turn right and drop down to Atlantic, two houses here demolished, seemingly overnight and new construction is already underway. Many of the houses have this very similar, all crisp, gleaming white look that is characteristic of something or someone I can't discern. A far cry from the old shanty town with bungalows.
Now on to the corner of my street, passing the place with 7 beds 7 baths; snatched up by some lucky folks from up North. It sits dormant during the week and then a flurry of Rovers arrive and the house comes alive. Now the house next door, their hydrangeas are in full bloom. I recently found out that the houses on either side of the one I live in were all a part of one big compound. The big house in the middle was the main house with two wings. When all of he family arrived for summer, the young girls would stay in one wing and the boys in the other. The two houses on either side were also part of the large compound where the adults would stay. If you look, you can note that all three houses have a certain characteristic, a similarity, a feeling....
Now I arrive home; I love being able to live in this old Sullivan's Island home, an honor to sweep its floors and weed its gardens. Weathered with time, survivor of Hugo, nestled perfectly into the architecture of the land. I wouldn't change a thing except maybe a fresh coat of white on the pickets. I round the final corner, through my own gate and lean the bike up against the wall, noting that the metal basket is causing little scrapes along the wood of the Summer House. I hope this place is never, ever brought down, by man nor hurricane. It is truly an island original. I love the crooked old brick walk, the crisp Charleston green trim, and the summer draping of morning glories and passion flowers over the trees and fences. I look up and notice the first clump of Wisteria coming into bloom over the picket fence and know I am home. 
Visit Absinthe Rabbits Incense & Peppermints Pinterest Board. A collection of photos inspired by the 1960's 

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