Teaching on a college schedule and having a son in a year-round middle school can make for an interesting vacation schedule. As a result, our week at the beach this year came in mid-December — for the first time, in Garden City, between Myrtle Beach and Murrel’s Inlet.

Our time included some interesting experiences — like the okra pancakes I tried at the Chive Blossom Cafe in Pawley’s Island — and also some illuminating ones — like a delightful evening we spent at Brookgreen Gardens‘ “Nights of a Thousand Candles” display.

I’ve been to more than my share of drive-through light shows, most of which have been disappointing. This one was different — the gardens themselves are an elegant mix of low country flora and high minded sculpture. They are a quiet corner of beauty during the day, but for a few evenings each year, they are transformed via thousands of candles and colored lights into a fantasyland where choirs sing, musicians play, and visitors wander in wonder beneath ancient live oaks and bubbling fountains.

I’ve posted a couple of pictures taken with my cell phone — if we’re lucky, my wife will post some nicer ones taken with a real camera in the next few days.

We got to the gardens before dark so we could enjoy them in natural light first. That gave me a chance to take quick shot of what I think was my favorite sculpture. More than the huge statue of Pegasus (above) or the many Greek inspired nymphs and sylvans, I liked the statue of a monkey called “The Thinker.” Rodin it’s not, but thoughtful it is — an appropriate attitude for the Christmas season.

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