Shangri-La is generally understood to be a mythical place of unusual beauty, a place veiled in secrecy, a place whose only limitation is the imagination of the one describing its loveliness and seductiveness. In a sense, one might apply this to any favorite, personal site such as a boyhood home, a vacation destination or an envisioned fantasy. The term Shangri-La came into my vocabulary when it was used by President Franklin D.  Roosevelt to identify his country hideaway in the Maryland mountains, a retreat he visited to get away from it all.  Today it is known as Camp David. Shangri-La is usually thought of as a fictional place, but recently I happened to visit a place not far from my home that could legitimately claim this designation.
Individual parts of the rural setting might be described as somewhat ordinary, but its uniqueness is reflected in its collectivity. The house is quaint and well maintained but not elaborate; the auxiliary buildings on the property are appropriate for the setting yet functional in their use; the yard is spacious and well planned and maintained with an enviable collection of just about any kind of indigenous plant.
The man of the house, a retired electrician, is a renaissance man when it comes to being handy with tools. Not only is he familiar with the intricacies of electricity, but he understands and can apply his skills to create nearly any structure from a gazebo to the restoration of old building long thought to be nonredeemable except for the master’s touch.
In addition to his construction skills which includes masonry and plumbing, he has a green thumb clearly seen in his manicured garden plots along with a multitude of grape vines expertly pruned to achieve maximum productivity.  Blackberries  and/or blueberries anyone? Looking for fruit trees?  You came to the right place. The rich, heavy black soil seemingly knows no productive limits.
Perhaps the most outstanding part of this place with the likely name of Shangri-La is the pond located behind the house and adjacent to the wooded swamp-like area which offers shade to the surrounding areas.  The expansive body of water has a well defined bank and a small pier for the available boat.  The color of the water might be classified non-technically as mysterious or even foreboding.  It has a dark appearance about the color of strong tea, and its shaded areas offer scenes of peace and tranquility. The home site is located in a rather low-lying area; in fact one must use a road that crosses five bridges before arriving at the home.
The pond is not without aquatic life.  The fish are abundant and easily catchable even for the grandchildren who always get a thrill of pulling in the big ones.  Of course the fish, unless suffering from some injury, are always returned to the pond in fact some have been caught so many times by the grandchildren, according to the owner, that they are readily recognized and even have names given to them.
To make the picture absolutely complete, the adequate acreage adjoining the homestead property is soon to be the site of the home of a son and with him, the promise of endless Shangri-La delights, the joy of grandchildren.
Shangri-La is an appropriate name for this place of dreams.  Actually it’s far more impressive than what I have written because my visit was only brief.  There is great deal more to the story. Much could be said about the custom designed interior of the home with its abundance of revered family antiques.
It’s not Shangri-La to the family; they just call it home.
Bill Lee
PO Box 128
Hamer, SC 29547

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