Author: Laura Von Harten

Spring Cleaning in the Cloud

I need more cloud time. Some people need down time, and others need reading time, exercise time, shopping time, prayer time, practice time, writing time, WoW time, Wii time, me time, alone time, party time, Miller time. You name it, someone out there needs time for it. And something we all could benefit from is a bit more cloud-gazing. I’m talking about the information cloud, of course, not the water vapor kind.

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The United States of Juan, etc…

The part of the world known as America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian who explored and mapped the New World’s North Atlantic coast on on behalf of Spain. Amerigo’s nephew, Juan, was also important in America’s colonial history. Thank goodness, though, his career did not surpass in preeminence that of his uncle, or our dear nation could have been called the United States of Juan. We would be called Juanians or something of the sort. Kind of sends shivers down your spine to think of what strangeness there might have been if our nation had been saddled with a less distinctive name.

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Marshside Mama’s: A Daufuskie Island Delight

Daufuskie Island has captured my heart. I must admit that some of this affection – maybe 5%? – arises out of pity. With the closure of Daufuskie Island’s only inn and the concurrent demise of its most user-friendly ferry service, the island has fallen on tough times. To use an upstate analogy, it feels like a mill town without a mill.

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The Two Stories of San Miguel de Guadalpe

It’s easy to study early European settlement in what is now the United States. There are lots of historic documents out there – countless manuscripts, letters, maps and ships’ logs that provide priceless accounts of the Age of Exploration. Really, the most difficult challenge that today’s scholars face is remembering to take their allergy medicine before poring through the moldering archives. A close second, of course, is trying to make sense of all that loopy handwriting.

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Where, pray tell, was San Miguel?

Part of an ongoing series about the Lowcountry’s colonial history San Miguel de Guadalpe was the first miserable failure of a European colony in what is now the United States. Saint Augustine, Florida, gets more attention but that’s just because it was the first successful colony. Therefore it has a long, unbroken chain of civic boosterism that, over the past 500 years, has done much to bolster its Municipal Creation Myth.

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Slavecatchers in the Land of Giants, Part 3

Previously: Spanish sugar farmers in the Caribbean have depleted their supply of native slaves. They send their slavecatchers north to the Land of Giants – what is now the southeastern U.S. – and find a cheap labor pool in a place called Chicora. Luke de Ayllon, an influential Castillian planter, wants Chicora for himself. So he travels to Spain to meet with King Charles I (or II, III, IV or V, depending on the circumstances.) Back in colonial times Spain was a franchise.

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Slavecatchers in the Land of Giants, Part 2

In the last episode: The year is 1521. The Spanish have discovered the Lowcountry. The natives call the place Chicora. The Spanish call it the Land of Giants because its people are large and healthy. (They also happen to be very pale compared to the Spaniards, which kind of makes you wonder because in the old cowboy movies weren’t the palefaces the ones of European descent?) Spanish slavecatchers kidnap 60 of these pale giants and carry them away to labor on the sugar plantations of Hispaniola. Hoping to go home, a slave named Chick convinces his master that the Land of Giants is full of gold and silver. But the master does not rush to Chicora for a treasure hunt, as Chick had expected. Instead the Spaniard – Lucas “Luke” Vasquez de Allyon – sails home to seek authority to conquer and colonize Chicora in the name of Spain.

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Slavecatchers in the Land of Giants, Part 1

  The other day I got to wondering why the Spanish were so keen on the Lowcountry in the early 16th century. I know they liked to explore and everything, so that would explain the first visit: sightseeing. But why did they keep coming back? We didn’t have any resorts with fabulous amenities. And it’s not as if we have vast gold mines buried under the pluff mud. Turns out we had something that was almost as valuable: a bunch of big people. Big, strong people.

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One Palmetto, Two Palmetto: Southern Hospitality Goes Green

To hell with pineapples and stars. Palmettos are the newest status symbol in the gradually greening tourism economy of the Lowcountry. Thanks to a statewide green hospitality certification initiative, travelers can now evaluate their food and lodging choices in a more considered way. The rating system is simple: One palmetto is good. Two palmettos are better. Three palmettos are best. You may ask, what’s wrong with stars?

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june, 2024

Celebrate with Catering by Debbi Covington

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