The Pool

There is a lot to be said for going out into the woods, finding a quiet, isolated stream, and taking a refreshing swim in the cold pure water.

On the other hand, a visit to your neighborhood pool can result in just as satisfying an afternoon if you enjoy people watching as much as cooling off on a hot day.

Sure, the water is more chlorinated than the bottle of Clorox in your laundry room. And the concession stand food hardly deserves the label. But I was a suburban pool rat, and I love revisiting those halcyon days!

I especially enjoy watching the kids who are just reaching the age when they are interested in the opposite sex. My own clumsy fumblings seem suave in retrospect. The little ones, all wrinkled and shivering, lips blue, ready to stay another hour. PLEASE MOM! Dad, all greased up and stuffed into a suit 20 years out of date. Sis, pretending to read a magazine, while peering over her sunglasses at the tanned young star in the lifeguard chair. The adults swim like icebergs, slowly drifting in the sparkling sea. Ah, it’s a mournful time when that Labor Day whistle blows ....

Brookgreen Gardens

A couple of years ago in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, I saw a large coffee-table book about a sculpture garden on the coast of South Carolina. The name of the park was Brookgreen Gardens, and it was located near Litchfield Beach, south of Myrtle Beach.

Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a week at Litchfield Beach, and on one slightly overcast day, my partner and one of her daughters and I took in the sights at Brookgreen.

The book, while beautiful, did not do justice to the place. Located on 800 acres of coastal plain, Brookgreen is the love-child of a wealthy couple, she a sculptor and he an investor. Besides all of the amenities that seem to be pre-requisites for theme parks these days (visitor’s center, animal park, restaurants), the landscaping alone is worth the price of admission! Incredible gardens designed to show off the sculptures to the maximum effect — and the live oaks!

Center stage, of course, are the artworks. Everything from the tiny to the monumental. Heroic, muscular, scaled off the charts from an epic Don Quixote to a straining ox plowing an imaginary field. Little bas-reliefs stuck in a brick wall to a flowing water installation rife with floating lilies.

While we only had half a day, you could obviously spend a week there and not see everything.

There was a great children’s area, and I even competed with some Canadian geese for the attention of a beached alligator on the bank of a small river running through the park.

The beaches of South Carolina have always appealed to me because of their relative proximity. Brookgreen Gardens is one more reason for me to head south next summer.

— David Cohen

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