Tag Archive | pineapple

Make Yourself at Home

Drumroll please…. 

Introducing Fellow Coastie, Ultimate Frisbee player, and friend, Bill Putnam. He takes incredible pictures and agreed to write a post for me. He is one of those people you feel a little bit jealous of, always jet-setting around and just enjoying life to the fullest. This post is pure blog candy.

And Now….

Hello fellow Simply Turquoise readers! I’m thrilled to contribute to one of my favorite spots to come when I want to sit down with a cup of tea, coffee, glass of wine or pint of beer and find another idea for making friends feel at home in the places and spaces I live in.

This is, after all, what Simply Turquoise is for me. Mariam is someone who seemingly knows no strangers and always has the right advice for making a space more welcoming. Perhaps that is why she was interested in having me share with you some words and photos from a city I recently visited again but have been to several times: Charleston, South Carolina.  It is a place where I’ve never felt like a stranger or visitor, a place where just walking around you feel invited down every street, around every corner, and into each café, restaurant, or store front.

Charleston, South Carolina

City Street in Charleston, South Carolina.

This essay won’t be a history lesson on Charleston. I’m not that well read. It’s old and new, it’s Southern yet somehow cosmopolitan, and it’s coastal and colonial. Most of all, to me Charleston whispers “hospitality”.  If you’re a regular reader of Simply Turquoise you’ll remember perhaps that Mariam has written about a symbol of hospitality, the pineapple. You’ll find it throughout this city: from bed post finials to flags on storefronts, and even as a fountain found down on the waterfront near Charleston’s own French Quarter (yes the city even has a slight ’Nawlins feel to it in places).

Pineapple Fountain in Charleston, South Carolina.

Pineapple Fountain in Charleston, South Carolina.

I’m not Southern by birth unless you use the Mason-Dixon as your line of demarcation for that. Born in Fairfax, Virginia and raised in Northern Virginia, those residents typically like to call themselves D.C. suburbanites. But my time in the Coast Guard has taken me all over, and it is how I came to be introduced to Charleston. So I’m a reluctantly adopted southerner, granted probationary belonging by my grandparents’ being North Carolinians, my love of sweet tea, and my ability to use the word “reckon” comfortably and in proper context.

Charleston, South Carolina cobblestones.

Charleston, South Carolina cobblestones.

It’s difficult to feel out of place in Charleston, unless you don’t like comfort-able.  You can wander seamlessly from the university district of the College of Charleston, where I tried mightily to sell my son on when he was shopping for schools and where there is that hip, edgy and creative personality everywhere between Coming and King Streets. Then as you cross south over Wentworth and find yourself on King in a shopping district mixed with high-end antique stores and the usual suspects of clothiers littered in all the new “town center” type developments you find everywhere, but which even here seem to have a unique charm, to the extent that’s possible.

Cemetery gates.

Cemetery gates.

One of the city’s nicknames is the “Holy City”. As you wander the streets around South of Broad you’ll see many church spires and wrought iron gates around cemeteries, with seemingly as many Spanish moss covered trees as headstones, all giving testimony to this well-earned moniker. And in keeping with the underlying theme of Charleston, even these places are not the cold intimidating off limits site of only those righteous or known enough to enter, they have their gates and doors open, inviting the passerby to come stay for a while.

Charleston Church Spire.

Charleston Church Spire.

And stay for a while is exactly what I want to do each time I visit this exquisitely contented city. There are still so many doors to explore and menus to try. Who knows, perhaps the name Putnam will fit as comfortably as Calhoun and Pinckney and I might also spend my day trying to decide which bronze door knocker looks best on one of the marigold-colored row houses, with pine grove green shutters and door. Or perhaps I already do fit in…that is after all how this city wants you to feel.

© copyright Bill Putnam and Mariam d’Eustachio 2012.

SpongeBob and the Pineapple

My mouth is watering as I write this. All because of a tropical fruit, the pineapple.

Pineapple Garden Sculpture from Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

The pineapple has a uniquely American history and somewhat sordid past as a symbol of hospitality. It’s arrival in the colonies dates as far back as Christopher Columbus. This exotic fruit, which has a strong flavor both tart and sweet, is the reason my mouth is watering. It was first brought to the Americas from the islands of the Caribbean and the West Indies by sea captains. They had discovered it’s rough exterior, which oddly resembled a pinecone, disguised a sweet and juicy flesh.  Upon their return from sea, these captains would stake a pineapple outside of their home to indicate they had returned, triumphant.

Detail of a platter with pineapple.

Hostesses began to pay exorbitant fees just to have a pineapple on display at their table. The pineapple rapidly became the most desired of fruits and gained popularity among the wealthy as well as kings abroad for it’s exotic appeal. In the colonies, pineapples were elevated to a status symbol and indicated what lengths a hostess was willing to go to in order to impress her guests.

Pineapple carved bedpost.

The pineapple eventually found a comfortable place as a uniquely American symbol of hospitality. Pineapples now appear as carvings in furniture, on top of finials, and as garden ornaments, and they take their rightful place among the many early designs in American furniture.

Crystal Chandelier adorned with a pineapple.

The pineapple has truly established itself as a welcoming symbol, one that harkens back to the early days of our country and can be proudly displayed in your home.

Pineapple Bird Feeder.

However, some skeptics say the pineapple symbolizing hospitality is just a myth. I would argue that you need look no farther than the “SpongeBob Squarepants” cartoon as authority.

SpongeBob Squarepants, lego version.

SpongeBob lives in “a pineapple under the sea” where he regularly entertains Patrick and Squidward.  And as if this were not proof enough, almost every historical property or inn on the East Coast sports a pineapple somewhere in their home or garden.

Pineapple Candlestick.

Why not indulge in the myth of the native fruit as an early American symbol of hospitality? It is in fact a good story, whether it is true or not, and I will do my best to promote it as such.
© copyright 2012 Mariam d’Eustachio.