Day 9: Wild Life

It’s one of the best things ever when my trusty iPhone buzzes and I look down to see “Jay Coles” on the incoming call screen.

He’s my dear friend, yes. But in addition to that, he’s Executive Director of Carolina Wildlife Center, an organization here in the Midlands of South Carolina that works tirelessly to care for and rehabilitate orphaned and injured animals. Jay is a committed, passionate leader who always has interesting things going on. When I hear from him, I know it will be good.

“Whatcha doing?” he asks when I hit the hello button.

“On the treadmill,” I huff.

“Wanna go on a release?” he says.

“What kind?” I ask (as if it matters).

There’s a smile in his voice. “Purple Martin,” he says.

Oh yeah.


A short time later he picks me up and we drive to the end of Old Chapin Road, just where it meets Lake Murray. “Know what that is?” Jay asks, pointing across the water to an island just beyond. “Bomb Island.”

Well, of course. Jay would know to bring the bird to this spot where, released to the wild for the first time after months of rehabilitation, it might just find a flock. A half million Purple Martins roost on Bomb Island for a few weeks in late summer, you see. So any minute now thousands of them will come flying across the water. Jay supposes that if we let our little guy go, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll find his way across the lake to join the others.

“Ready?” he says to me and I feel as nervous and giddy as if it were my maiden flight. “Let’s do it,” I say.

Jay gently lifts the top from the container. I look in, and sure enough, there he is.


Um. Hello?
Um. Hello?


You want me to do what?
You want me to do what?


I'm not so sure that's a good idea.
I’m not so sure about this.


Well, okay then!


Which way do I go?
Which way do I go?


Oh. There they are!
Oh. There they are!


I'm coming!
I’m coming!



If you’d like to learn more about Carolina Wildlife Center and their important work, click here. It’s a nonprofit I love and one that is significantly underfunded. With no state or federal money, CWC treats more than 3500 orphaned and injured animals a year, responds to more than 10,000 hotline questions, and presents animal and conservation education to thousands of children and adults–with many, many hours donated by dedicated volunteers and insufficiently funded staff. (So much of the donated money must go to supplies for the animals.) Needless to say, they are grateful for $$ donations of any size! They particularly love Sustaining Donors who give $10, $20 or $50 a month. More info can be found here. Also, follow Carolina Wildlife Center on Facebook. No matter where you live in the world, you’ll be delighted to see the precious animal photos and videos that will roll through your feed!

30 Days Of Fun III

Did you have some summer fun today? Leave details in the comments below, or better yet, send a photo to You can also post to instagram with hashtag #30DaysOfFunTDG or to my TheDailyGraceBlog Facebook page. I’d love to share it here!

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10 Minutes of Joy

Let’s just agree, shall we? Let’s just say right now that if I happen to stretch this snow thing out a bit–say, two posts, or three, or four–let’s just agree you’ll indulge me. You’re a sweet, generous soul, that I already know, and I’m hoping your goodness will translate to a big swath of patience when it comes to the very serious matter of me and snow.

It would be mighty kind of you, that’s what I’m saying. Mighty kind of you to overlook the teensy tiny little fact that snow fell this morning for–erh, 10 minutes? maybe?–and that when it was all said and done there was not even what a rational person could call a dusting on the ground. It would be mighty kind of you look beyond the fact I didn’t touch the stuff, didn’t even get outside in it because I was soaking wet, having nearly missed the Snow Event completely when I (CURSES!) abandoned the dream and stepped into the shower, preparing to report–in cold, cold rain–for JURY DUTY. But God is good, and so there we were, me in a towel, snow in all its white fluffy glory, face to face at the big kitchen window.

It’s such a rarity here, that’s the thing. Located as we are in the middle of the middle of the South, the falling of big fat flakes is such a rarity I am suggesting (whole-heartedly) that the mere possibility of snow is a legitimate cause for community-wide celebration.

Run to the store for bread and milk and kahlua–I won’t judge! Call off school before the first flake ever falls–you won’t hear me complain! Have that We Probably Won’t Have To Work Tomorrow So I’ll Have Another glass of wine–I’m all in!

It was so worth it for the 10 minutes of unbridled joy today’s weather delivered.

It was so worth it for 10 minutes of LOOK! IT’S SNOWING!!!!


2.24.15 on Bickley’s Pond




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waiting for leon

We went to bed Monday night with a most assured forecast for significant snow, a rarity here in the Midlands of South Carolina. Needless to say the excitement had been building for days; snow was the primary topic of conversation everywhere. Events were being cancelled right and left—Leon (when did they start naming snow storms?) would arrive around 11 am Tuesday, start as sleet/freezing rain, change to snow, then shower all afternoon, evening, and night, with a good chance for continued flurries until lunchtime on Wednesday.

Oh boy!

I made a list of all the supplies I needed to make it through the winter storm.

  • firewood (plenty on hand)
  • knitting yarn
  • birdseed
  • Gosling’s black rum and ginger beer and lime*

I got up early Tuesday and rushed around town like a woman crazed. By noon I was back home and ready—bird feeders filled, a big fire blazing, and my eyes turned toward the winter sky.

I waited. And watched. And waited. And watched. And as darkness approached, exactly no snow had fallen here on Bickley’s Pond.


I’m not casting stones at the forecasters here, may I be clear about that? I can’t imagine trying to predict the weather, even more so now that the demand is for a detailed hour-by-hour schedule days in advance. My point is merely that I looked out the window a thousand times that day, sure we were mere minutes away from that most profound and beautiful of nature’s weather tricks—snow falling, with all its soul-calming powers.


Storm Leon did eventually arrive, something I am rather sure you already know. It started long after dark, and ended long before sunrise. That means we awoke to the pretty albeit temporary scene of a white blanketed (pardon the cliche) world.

We just never saw a single flake fall.


There is a 32 percent chance of snow each year in Columbia, South Carolina, according to the State Climatology office. That means it’ll be another three years before the odds are in our favor to get more snow, the way I figure it. Therefore I’d like to put out there for anyone who wants to jump on my snow bandwagon:


(Who’s with me?)

Let’s hold out for another snowstorm this year, one that arrives in the daylight so we can actually experience the magic and wonder of the snow as it falls.

Let’s pray for a snow miracle!

*Dark and Stormy fixin’s. Details to come.

Day 15: Blueberry Pickin’, I and II


You around Thursday? she asked, the kind of question that—with Leslie and an enthusiastic Yes! in response—always ends well. It’s opening day for blueberries. 

(July 4th + [I’ve actually never been] blueberry pickin’ + Leslie = BIG FUN I think.)

Yeah, I say. I think I can fit that in. (insert ha ha here)

I like it already.
These people are serious.
Rows and rows (and a beautiful blue sky)
mother lode
That Leslie. She’s a professional.
My haul. Not too shabby for a beginner, I think.



And then my friend Colleen came from New Jersey for a weekend visit, and like any self-respecting hostess, I strapped a blueberry bucket around her waist (in the rain) and set her to pickin’, too.

There she is. Way down there!
Colleen. Fashionable and efficient!

Both days were fabulous, and the people at Berry Hill Farm in Lexington could not have been nicer. Looking forward to going back soon for Blueberry Picking III!

30 Days of Fun II

Day 8: From the Fellowship Mall

Providence Players in The Wishing Tree

It’s a cute story with such a sweet message, said my friend, Cindy, about the Christmas play performed by our youth this year, the youth at Providence Presbyterian Church.

And it was. The Wishing Tree is the story of a group of teenagers working in a mall on Christmas Eve. Each member of this group of colorful individuals finds his or her wildest Christmas wish granted because each is a wish for someone else.

But the magic of this show is not in the play itself. It is, instead, in the spirit of the performers; a band of believers who share the joy of this miraculous season with so much heart it touched my soul in a beautiful, joyful way.

I am grateful to the Providence Players one and all—and, in particular, their fearless leader, Andy Simmons. Their performance of The Wishing Tree is a sweet, sweet gift to every person in the audience.


Want to go? Tickets are available at the door for tonight’s (December 15, 2012) performance of The Wishing Tree. Curtain rises at 7:00 pm. Providence Presbyterian is located at 1112 Hummingbird Lane in West Columbia, SC.

Day 11: When October Comes

It was the perfect way to usher in my favorite month of the year.

I had just spent a magical week in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, shooting a television campaign with a group of people who brought such laughter and joy to their work it left me feeling changed. I made the drive home thinking about it—the people, the work, the interactions. Why was this project so special?

At the heart of it, I believe there was a remarkable spirit of generosity that marked this shoot, permeating every aspect of the work and spreading location-to-location, person-to-person, like a goodwill virus. Everyone had a job to do, yes. But each also looked out for the others, going way beyond his or her own “job” to provide whatever assistance was needed; doing something simply because it needed to be done.

It made me realize how dramatically the tenor of life changes when you go about your days thinking: What can I do to help?

I woke up this morning grateful for this insight and the many lessons I learned on the Beaufort shoot. Then I turned toward the light to find October dawning.

October Sky, Day 1

30 Days of Grace