Monks, Peanuts & More...

Oh yes, one of those diverse days which make me giddy! We began our day wanting to explore the gardens and learn more about the historic site of Mepkin Abbey.

Mepkin Abbey is a community of Roman Catholic monks established in 1949, on the site of the historic Mepkin Plantation, located on the Cooper River, north of Charleston. Founded by the monks of Gethsemani in Kentucky, the brothers of Mepkin belong to the worldwide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance popularly known as Trappist. Following The Rule of St. Benedict, the monks at Mepkin Abbey devote their lives to prayer, spiritual study, work and hospitality.

Christian art adorns the grounds. These two sculptures, made of Live Oak Trees which were downed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, were amazing.

The Gardens were teeming with nature.

The area has been known as Mepkin for centuries, and was originally the estate of several historic families. It was purchased in 1762 by Henry Laurens, the President of the Continental Congress during the Revolutionary War, as a rice plantation. All that is left of the Laurens property is its family cemetery.

After a few generations, the Laurens family sold the property, and it passed through several hands. In 1936, the publishing magnate Henry R. Luce (Life, Time, Sports Illustrated) bought the property. I found learning about his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, very interesting. She was a successful author, politician, US Ambassador and notable public conservative figure. In fact, she was the first American woman appointed to a major ambassadorial post abroad. She is the one who commissioned and built an extensive landscape garden known as the Mepkin Garden. In 1949, after the death of her only child, Clare converted to Roman Catholicism and donated a large part of the property, including the garden, to the Trappist Order's Gethsemani Abbey for its use. It is their responsibility to not only keep the garden gorgeous, but it must remain open to the public.
Next stop was the little town of Bonneau and its annual Peanut Festival. Peanuts have been grown in these parts due to the fact that this crop requires less cultivation than many others.
While the event was very "small town", the music was great and the boiled peanuts were delicious. AND this was the first Peanut Festival we have ever attended.

We then headed to Michael and Sharon's town of Summerville whose claim to fame is "The Birthplace of Sweet Tea". While not my thing, a glass of cold, sweet tea is as much a part of a Southern dinner table as fried chicken and collards. And sweet tea here is not just consumed in the summer or at Fourth of July picnics, they drink it here all year long.
We came here for something that is my thing- wine. We sat outdoors and just relaxed- the perfect conclusion for a pretty perfect day.

"Age appears to be best in four things: old wood best to burn,
old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read."
- Francis Bacon

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Cyndy Brown said...

Love the bugs and lizards...and a peanut festival??? Yumm!Cyndy

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