Saturday, January 07, 2006

Time and Tide and the Other Magnolia


Yesterday it was Magnolia Plantation Gardens. Today it is Magnolia Cemetery, a beautiful 128 acre tract of land located on the banks of the Cooper River at Charleston, SC. The headstones, monuments and crypts include some of the most lovely and intriguing artwork to be found in any resting place in the country.

Magnolia is the final home for the crew of the Confederate submarine, the H.L. HUNLEY which was raised from Charleston Harbor where it sank during the Civil War. Charlestonians of greater and lesser stations in life are all on the same plane here.

The cemetery dates back to around 1850. The three bridges in the background date to 1929, The John P. Grace Memorial, 1966, The Silas Pearman Bridge and 2005, the Arthur Ravenel, Jr., Bridge. The Ravenel Bridge is that which has the two looming " A " frame towers and will survive both of the others which no longer carry traffic and are now being dismantled. Those two bridges are passing from the scene and will be buried at sea to form fish breeding reefs.

The older bridges which were memorials are themselves being laid to rest. The statue commemorates both the passing of mortals as well as Christian faith in the future. The brownish growth in the midground is marsh grass which presides over the pluff mud and estuaries which are the cradle of much of the sea life of our coast. It will return to a lush green in the spring as it continually marks the seasons

We tend to think of cemeteries as the end of the line for folks, but here at Magnolia the artful monuments clearly express a hope for eternal life. The old bridges give way to the new and live on in the form of their successors. The marsh continues in it's ancient cycle, waxing and waning with the tide itself.

One a bright winter afternoon, this place offers a chance for reflection upon the impermanence of life and the persistence of the spirit. It is an inspiring pause along the road upon which we roll.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Ellen said...

One of my favorite places. Artist Alice R.H. Smith is buried there. Her tombstone reads, "Nature I loved, and next to nature, Art."

Fun site!

4:21 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thank you for the kind words Ellen. Alice Ravenel Huger Smith rests in good company here. We often reach for the irony which placing the automobile in the midst of such man made and natural beauty can provide.

2:37 AM  

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