A day in the woods, Charleston style 

All dogs go to heaven

One of the magical things about Charleston is its ability to transport people to another time. The annual Blessing of the Hounds at Middleton Place is a prime example. As one guest summed it up, you’d hardly know you were in the 21st Century if it wasn’t for the processed food. With the exception of a few other anachronisms — including flat-bed trucks and air conditioning (which, sadly, was used on November 28) — it was hard not to feel like you were surrounded by the cast of North and South.

Under the shadows of the Middleton guesthouse, the pack of 50 hounds was bestowed with the traditional prayers before beginning the first drag hunt of the season. Spectators were then encouraged to jump into their vehicles and follow the hunt, which meandered through the extensive grounds of the property. However, this is no dirty venture. Charlestonians know how to make even a tromp through the woods a classy affair.

For non-riders, the event in essence was a caravanning picnic, complete with champagne, cheese, saucisson, and pickled okra. Riders were able to steal a quick sip of wine or two between the action to tide them over to the brunch held in honor of the Middleton Place Hounds members. Deep in the Carolina forest, horsemen and hounds emerged through the live oaks and Spanish moss as if jumping out of a painting from the walls of downtown museums and galleries. Spectators, composed of newbies and seasoned veterans alike, positioned themselves at designated points along the pre-set trail to catch the best of the centuries old pageantry.

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