I consider myself lucky. I have had the opportunity to live in many different places. Each place served a purpose, and I can think of things I have enjoyed (and some I haven’t!) in every location.
Growing up in New England was wicked cool…
The quaint towns, the craggy seacoast, the freezing cold winters…oh yes! I hated the winters. They were miserable. The air was cold it made my nostrils slam shut when I went outside. I used to ride in a snowsuit looking thing and moon boots. I taught lessons in the indoor arena standing next to the outlet so I could put a heating pad inside my jacket. It was miserable. In the late 80’s after spending my first week in January in Wellington, FL, I swore I would never spent another winter in New England. To this day, I have kept that promise.
Speaking of Wellington…
I enjoyed my time there. It was an equestrian wonderland. There were so many phenomenal horses and palatial farms and everything was perfect. And expensive. And if you got about one mile outside of Wellington, into the unimproved areas, the change was so dramatic it felt as though you had fallen off a cliff into little scrub trees, sand and canals and there was nothing beautiful about it. Someone came to visit me in Wellington once and told me I lived in a make believe world. Like a movie set. Beautiful, but it had no heart and soul.
Next up – Great Britain.
What an incredible place! Achingly beautiful, the colorful patchwork landscapes divided by green hedges. The storybook cottages with thatched roofs and smoke curling out of their little chimneys. Oh and the horses! It was so fun to ride there. Competitions every weekend, even midweek sometimes. Every place within an easy drive because let’s face it…in a country that small, how far could it be? The mentality of horse people was different there too. Hardier, braver, tougher people and horses. They get the job done, and they don’t talk about it that much. I loved so many things about it. However, at the end of the day, I must be more American than I realized because I wanted to come home.
Then came Aiken.
The best thing about Aiken for me has always been the people. They are friendly, warm and kind. They can strike up a conversation anywhere, about anything. In line at the grocery store? Everyone is Chatty Cathy. Walking down the street, if I don’t run into at least two people I know who stop to speak to me, it’s shocking. People ask about my kids, my husband, my business, my parents…they ask about me and if I am happy. It’s a sense of connection with people that simply does not exist in most places.
It’s beautiful too. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a few walks in the Hitchcock Woods this past week. Last evening, the sun had nearly set, and I burst out of a darkening trail onto the Palmetto Golf Course. I startled 5 deer, who took off running across the golf course. The moon was huge, the grass emerald green, stretching as far as I could see. It was so quiet and peaceful.
Recently, someone told me that the beauty in Aiken sort of sneaks up on you. It’s like the properties in the Historic, or the Horse District. They aren’t out there on display, in your face. They are hidden behind serpentine brick walls, old growth live oak trees, blooming camellias and wrought iron fences. The beauty presents itself in charming vignettes around town, in the country, in the Woods, or even in a hay field. It’s not always predictable, but it’s there if you keep your eyes open.
Indeed, Aiken is a place like no other.
Check out the video below to see some gorgeous visuals on Aiken…A Place Like No Other.