The 12 Days of Christmas – Charleston Style

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By Minta Pavliscsak

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
A Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the second day of Christmas:
my true love sent to me:
Two Parking Tickets and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

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On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

sweetgrass basket 3

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

surfboards 2

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

palmetto rose 1

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve Palmetto Roses
Eleven Sailboats Sailing
Ten Guys on Surfboards
Nine Ladies Shopping
Eight Sweetgrass Baskets
Seven Dolphins Swimming
Six Pounds of Oysters
Five Horse Drawn Carriages
Four Window Boxes
Three Bloody Marys
Two Parking Tickets
and a Seagull Perched in a Palm Tree

Letter to the Sea (Letter to Earth for Love, Hope and Peace) – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

Out to sea we will meet
Distant strangers together under a starry sky

In our differences, we see the world through a spectrum of colors
Different languages, looks, beliefs, morals and relationships; yet one unified bond
The pursuit of meaning and love

Each moment an explosion of millions of actions pulsating in a thunderstorm of emotion causing a chain reaction so raw with intensity we can only respect its being

Each one of us a gift
Each moment a mother touches her newborn for the first time, a legacy
Babies first steps, a dream becomes reality
A first kiss, fear is shed and enlightenment found
A vow of love, the ultimate promise
A reflection of life, the soundtrack of the harmonies of our days

Close your eyes to hate
Shed away the fear
Find comfort in the love that surrounds
Have faith in the hands that created you
Take shelter in the relationships that protect

Let this message be a guide to your continued journey
Look back on your footprints in the sand; soon to be washed away but forever secured safely in your lock box of life’s precious times

Each step a new beginning toward your destiny
One filled with conviction

Make these words a pledge to find inner peace and live with passion
Leap in the air and let gravity take hold
It is in this moment, new and fresh, you will become wonderful

 

A Baby Sea Turtle Rescue Story: With a Little Help From My Friends

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By Mark A. Leon

When a sea turtle egg hatches, the baby sea turtles make a migration from the protected nesting area to their ocean home.? This natural phenomenon happens in the middle of the night as the moon lights the pathway.? By morning, there is no sign of the migration.? Yes on this morning, one got left behind.? Whether born with a limp limb or a predatory attack, this baby sea turtle saw the light of day trying desperately to get to the ocean with three working fins.

As we stumbled on this brave young thing trying to enter safely into the ocean and meet his family, we felt nothing but sympathy and quickly became fans of his plight.? As he tried using his three strong limbs and one limp one, he kept getting pushed back ashore by the incoming waves.? It was at this moment, we put our heads together and called the Folly Beach patrol for guidance.? After two phone calls and several discussions, it was deemed best, we go as deep as we could into the ocean and place him in.? They felt this was his best chance of survival.

As each of us said goodbye to Nelson (Yes, we named him Nelson.? He looked like a Nelson), we felt a bond and a very special moment shared.

Thus, our morning was highlighted by our own sea turtle release, reinforcing that there is never a dull moment on the beaches of Charleston.

We wish you well Nelson and hope you are with your family now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson, the Sea Turtle from Mark A. Leon on Vimeo.

An Independence Sunrise for the Ages – Folly Style

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By Mark A. Leon

This article will be short on words, because the images will speak for themselves.? Charleston is known for memorable sunrises filled with rich color, texture and most of all, inspiration.? They fill our skies throughout the Lowcountry with hope, faith and peace.? This morning, Folly gave us an experience to remember; and on a weekend of celebration.? Most sunrises are enchanting on Folly Beach, but there was something special about this one.

We will just let you witness these images and decide for yourself.? These images were taken between 6:10 AM and 7:20 AM on July 3, 2016.

Sit back and relax and try and picture a cool morning breeze racing up against your face as the sun peaks out from the ocean and through a mix of peaceful clouds hovering above.? Listen for the sounds of seagulls and crows making their presence known as they fly up above.? Flags wave across the pier and all is calm except for the anticipation of a swarm of beach goers preparing for their journey to the soft sands of Folly.

Sunrise on Folly

 

 

Now go enjoy that Sunday mimosa.

Have a safe and memorable Independence Day.

 

 

Why a Folly Beach Sunrise is the Most Therapeutic Experience You Can Have

By Mark A. Leon

In a community focused on beauty, balance and family, where yoga and puppies rule and wellness is a state of body and mind, Charleston offers some of the most stress relief moments of therapeutic tranquility.? One that stands out is a Folly Beach sunrise.? It is often overlooked due to late nights or work obligations, but the few that make it out for a picture or surf cannot deny the power of the sun and ocean and how it puts you at complete peace.

If these words do not convince you,? I think these images will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See you on the beach

 

 

A Folly Starfish Christmas Story

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By Minta Pavliscsak

It was Christmas Eve in our little slice of Folly Under the Sea. This year things around me seemed more calm than usual. Everyfish seemed to be ahead of the typical hustle and bustle of the season. That is, every fish except for me. I like to live in the here and now, which means I am really good when it comes to what others view as procrastinating. I like to think of it more as I work well under pressure. That aside, I was bobbing from store to store as quickly as I could but a starfish can only go as fast as the current takes him and today the current was in no rush.

Somehow I managed to squeak in grocery shopping, picking up my famous last minute –but always perfect– gifts, visiting a few friends, and even getting a relaxing arm massage at Sacred Arm Massage & Healing Arts. Floating home, I looked around at all the happy fish. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was glistening brightly through the waves. There were even surfboards overhead, and not a shark sighting all day. The small fish were playing with each other and singing carols in anticipation of what tonight would bring. The bigger fish were holding hands and sneaking kisses, just as giddy as the little ones.

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Finally making it home, I put on my favorite Michael Bubble Christmas album and started wrapping presents. Later that evening, I enjoyed the sunset in my back sand where I could see the human’s Folly Christmas tree off in the distance. Those humans are so creative! Who would think to put a Christmas tree on the beach anyway? ?After Christmas Eve dinner and appeasing carol singers who literally would not leave until I gave them figgy pudding –good thing I picked up dates at the store– I finally settled in to rest until Christmas day.

However, it was a restless sleep, and when I did drift off I had crazy dreams. One was of a psychedelic octopus. He just kind of joyfully floated in one spot, smiling and waving almost glowing in the surf. And then I woke up. Then there was the dream of a sandcastle Santa Claus. Had I seen the humans building one on the beach? Had Santa visited me and I sleepily caught him? Was Santa Claus really made out of sand? The psychedelic octopus seemed to make more sense than that! Maybe I was just as excited as every fish else that I had seen the day before. After all, Christmas is my most favorite of all the holidays. And even after all these years, I have never stopped believing. I gave into my excitement and floated out of bed, cranked up the Bubble, and got ready for the day.

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As I put on my funny Santa attire, the smile that would remain ever present for the day crept across my face. How silly of me to think there would be sleep on the eve of today of all days! The doorbell rang. My friends and family had arrived. It was the beginning of another perfect Christmas Under the Folly Sea.

From our family to yours,
Happy Christmas, Merry Everything!

Never Stop Believing

A Day at the South Carolina Aquarium

Story and Photography by Mark A. Leon

In the coastal town of Charleston, South Carolina where charm and warm Southern etiquette are part of our DNA, it is fitting that we have an aquarium pitted right on the Charleston Harbor that deems the same beauty and respect as the rest of our colony.? Charleston is a place passionate about history, knowledge and marine biology.? From the sharks to the gators, stingrays to starfish, the interest for aquatic life is one that fuels us with ambition, intrigue and desire.? Even for those that have Southern blood through and through, the sighting of a dolphin or sea turtle is one filled with wonder.

As I walked through the floors of the South Carolina Aquarium with a spectacular view of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and passing sailboats in the back, I was taken to a time of innocence when I was a little boy and all I wanted to do was see all the colors of the fish, touch them as they swam beneath the water and talk to them hoping through some miracle they would talk back and with the addition of new Lego displays, that feeling of childhood was intensified.

Whether you are five years old or eighty, there is a place for you at the aquarium.? With wide open spaces, a staff that truly loves to teach and awe inspiring moments including an eight foot albino alligator and majestic bald eagle, you will not regret a day of escape and learning.

Come with me as we share a photo expose of a day at the South Carolina Aquarium.

Welcome to Liberty Square

 

 

Stingray
Stingray

 

Spectacular view of the harbor
Spectacular view of the harbor

 

Proud bald eagle loves to pose
Proud bald eagle loves to pose

 

Otters have a soothing waterfall to put them to sleep
Otters have a soothing waterfall to put them to sleep

 

Lego otter
Lego otter

 

Lego frog
Lego frog

 

Alligator
Alligator

 

Gator up close
Gator up close

 

A view poisonous snakes are lurking
A view poisonous snakes are lurking

 

Turtles just trotting along
Turtles just trotting along

 

Lego shark - Great photo opportunity
Lego shark – Great photo opportunity

 

Need information? Go to the Shrimp Shack
Go to the Shrimp Shack to purchase food to feed the outdoor water creatures

 

Bricks Alive - Where Lego and fish co-exist
Bricks Alive – Where Lego and fish co-exist

 

Nemo and Dory playing in their Lego home
Nemo and Dory playing in their Lego home

 

Love to pet the baby sharks
Love to pet the baby sharks

 

Starfish
Starfish

 

The rich colors and style of the ocean life
The rich colors and style of the ocean life

 

We are all in school to learn
We are all in school to learn

 

Just getting along
Just getting along

 

Lego dolphin - Sorry, no real ones
Lego dolphin – Sorry, no real ones

 

Belly flopping shark
Belly flopping shark

 

Rich blues of the ocean floor
Rich blues of the ocean floor

 

Just Flounering Around
Just Flounering Around

 

You Lookin' At Me?
You Lookin’ At Me?

 

Look Out! Its a Shark
Look Out! Its a Shark

 

Ollie’s Trading Post

 

Sea Turtle Love

If you have not visited, it is time to make your way, so round up the family and enjoy a day with the wonders of the water.? If you have already walked the hallowed halls, why not remember why you loved it in the first place.

For locals, the SC Aquarium offers wonderful annual passes/memberships.? Their new membership cards are now being produced with biodegradable material and make for a wonderful gift.

Learn more about the aquarium

The Surfer’s Moment – Inspirational Quotes about Surfers and Surfing

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Yesterday morning, a ball of regeneration rose from the distance in the ocean.? On lookers were equipped with cameras, tripods an IPhones waiting to capture the first moments of the sunrise.? At 7:00 AM a young female surfer began to swim out on her board.? She maneuvered through the small waves until she was alone rested on her board soaking in the morning rays.? It was a moment of peace shared only by the ocean, the sun, her and the board.? It was in that instance I understood the surfer’s moment; the motivation behind the passion.

Surfing is about the rush.? There is no denying it, but it is also as much about the connection to the ocean and nature.? That vision inspired us to share some of the great quotes by and about surfers and surfing.

If you are not a surfer, you may begin to understand its culture a little more after reading these inspired words.

Surfing Quotes / Affirmations

“Out of water, I am nothing.” – Duke Kahanamoku

“We’re all equal before a wave.” – Laird Hamilton

“The joy of surfing is so many things combined, from the physical exertion of it, to the challenge of it, to the mental side of the sport.” – Kelly Slater

“Sometimes in the morning, when it’s a good surf, I go out there, and I don’t feel like it’s a bad world.” – Kary Mullis

“Surfing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m on a wave.” – Paul Walker

“One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surfboard, and a wave.” – Naima Green

“Surfing is the most blissful experience you can have on this planet, a taste of heaven.” – John McCarthy

“Surfing, alone among sports, generates laughter at its very suggestion, and this is because it turns not a skill into an art, but an inexplicable and useless urge into a vital way of life.” – Matt Warshaw

“What I love the most about surfing is that it’s my first love. It’s the first thing I can remember being consumed by.” – Stephanie Gilmore

“It’s not tragic to die doing something you love.” – Mark Foo

“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” – Bethany Hamilton

“It’s all about where your mind’s at” – Kelly Slater

“Surfing expresses …. a pure yearning for visceral, physical contact with the natural world.” Matt Warshaw

“If you are doing what you love then you’re doing what is right.? Desire and passion resonate with your body, mind and soul.? When you’re passionate you don’t question, judge, criticize, second-guess, or doubt.? It’s that passion that will fuel the fire to overcome challenges.” – Layne Beachley

“Surfing is very much like making love. It always feels good, no matter how many times you’ve done it.” – Paul Strauch

“Surfing is for life.” – Bruce Jenkins

“For those searching for something more than just the norm. We lay it all down, including what others call sanity, for just a few moments on waves larger than life. We do this because we know there is still something greater than all of us. Something that inspires us spiritually. We start going downhill, when we stop taking risks.” – Laird Hamilton

“Surfing teaches patience.? On land, surfers cannot will a swell to appear.? They have to wait for nature to make the call.? So surfers wait.? They keep their eyes on the horizon and they wait.” – Shaun Tomson

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It’s a way of life Charleston.? One that we embrace with the rising and setting of the sun.

Feeling the rush, becoming one with nature and losing yourself in another place is why so many look to the waves to find that inner peace

 

Photo Expose of Morris Island Lighthouse and Beach

“”We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.” – Dwight L. Moody

For National Lighthouse Day, come with us as we celebrate the beauty and history of Morris Island Lighthouse Beach.? This scenic piece of land on the Folly Beach coast has become a figure head of our coastal home.? Ushering in sailors and merchants and welcoming shrimpers home, this perennial escape offers a tranquil place to seek refuge, find clarity and meaning or just appeal to the massive Mother Ocean.? This backdrop for weddings, fishing and picnics has become one of the go to places in the Charleston area.

Enjoy this photographic expose of one of our favorite landmarks

Journey Through Morris Island Lighthouse Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let your light shine free.

The Kindness of a Stranger – A Charleston Starfish Story

By, Minta Pavliscsak

The day started out as any other day; the sun had just peaked over the horizon and my tummy was starting to rumble. I was carelessly bobbing along with the current in search for some breakfast reaching out to cling onto any rock I may float by that happened to have a clam or mollusk attached to it. I wasn’t having much luck today though.

Then I spied a delicious looking cluster of oysters just off to my right and I tried with all my might to maneuver myself towards it. Alas, the gravity of the incoming tide was too strong for me and it pushed me right past. I wasn’t worried, not yet anyway. This happens often enough, but the ocean is vast and there are plenty of opportunities for a tiny starfish like me to find breakfast. Only today, today was different. Today I just kept floating.

Soon I found myself crawling along the bottom of the ocean with the top of the water descending closer and closer to me. I lost control of my movements as the waves took over my direction. It wasn’t long before I was on the beach under a large wooden pillar structure.

As I crawled on the wet sand, I could hear the sound of dogs barking and feel the footsteps of many people passing by. I tried calling out to them for help, but given that our mouths are underneath us, starfish can’t project very well.?Keeping as calm as I could, I began to work my way back towards where I thought I would find the comfort of the ocean. After some time, this seemed to be in vain. I began to wonder if I would ever get back home. Had I known last night’s meal was my last, I would have made it a much nicer one. I would have called my parents and told them I loved them. Do my friends know how much they mean to me? Was I nice enough to strangers I had met along my path? As these thoughts passed through my head and I thought surely this was the end for me, I was scooped up by a warm, gentle hand.

I had no clue what to expect next. I was frozen in fear as I was carried around and put on display for another human being. Suddenly, I was joined by another, smaller starfish. Not knowing what else to do, I began trying to crawl away. Of all things, the human started to laugh! This had to be a good sign, so I moved all my legs with all my might. I heard even more laughing as I could see that my new friend and I were being carried towards the ocean. The next thing I knew, my friend and I were flying through the air, twirling around and around, and splash! We landed gratefully in the ocean. We exchanged Twitter handles and promised to stay in contact through Facebook, then said our goodbyes. As I swam home, completely forgetting about breakfast, I called my parents as updated my status to “thankful”. I will never forget about that kind human on the beach. Sometimes it takes almost losing it all to realize just how much you really do have.