Perhaps you never considered a bar of soap to be a fine work of art. Never had it crossed my mind, either. Until recently.

Art, in its most simple form, is a thoughtful creation from another’s mind and hands. We are drawn to the art by what it says; how uniquely it speaks; the blending of other mediums. Few art pieces have a scent but, oh, when they do, it is perfection because it adds an extra sensory reaction.

My appreciation for the art of soap began a few months ago while we were on St. Simons for a speaking engagement. It happened to be my birthday so Edward Armstrong called up. “Oh, darlin’, we just have to celebrate your birthday at the Georgia Seafood Grill.” He stopped, lowered his voice conspiratorially and whispered, “It’s hard to get in there but I made this reservation two weeks ago.” His voice sounded like a furrowed brow. “Only for you, darlin’.”

Perhaps you’ve met my friend, Edward. He’s one of the storied legends that rises up from the golden marsh. Edward, hardly planning on it, has built a persona larger than Beowulf’s Grendel. And, like Grendel, Edward’s legend will live for generations. The rest of us will be long forgotten but someday, somewhere — probably in the Golden Isles — people will take holiday weekends to celebrate the Edward Armstrong Legend.

Tink enjoys so much watching the two of us banter and chatter, while trying to outwit one another, that he often asks, “Why aren’t y’all on TV? With your own show? You’re fun entertainment.”

We are both purely Southern-to-the-bone characters. We both are from rural, Southern towns that aren’t much more than polka dot stops on the state route map. But there is a difference. Edward was genteelly schooled in etiquette and even studied elocution.

“Let me tell you this,” he started at dinner, then stopped himself. “Oh, my. I know better than that! I took elocution classes. Never start a sentence with ‘Let me tell this.’ It’s impolite.”

I did not take elocution classes — or ever heard of them — so I use that phrase frequently. I even wrote a book entitled, Let Me Tell You Something.

“I didn’t know I wasn’t suppose to say that,” I admitted reflectively.

 Edward smiled compassionately, shook his head sadly, patted my hand, then sweetly sighed. “I know, darlin’, I know. It’s okay.”

On this particular evening at the Georgia Seafood Grill, Edward came whizzing through the door. He has two kinds of walks. One is a jaunty sashay, rippling joyously as he glides in upon arrival. This brings smiles to all who witness it.

The other is a rushed walk that booms softly like a baby-sized thunder clap. Usually, he is clasping too much in one arm and, with his other hand, is pushing back a thick mound of blonde hair while dew glistens on his forehead. 

On the aforementioned, unusually cold January night, he sashayed in happily, then set down two gift bags on the white clothed table.

“This bag is your main gift. Open the other later because it’s just bits and pieces.”

When I returned home and opened the bag of bits, I discovered a large, hard milled bar of soap from Michel Design Works. In my hand, the sturdy weight felt luxurious — I grew up on lightweight Ivory soap — and the scent of peonies was gorgeous.

Out went the half-used bar of Dove — it’s not easy for a Scotch-Irish lass to throw away anything usable. So, I didn’t. I put it in the closet to use later in scenting drawers or scrubbing a dog.

The moment I opened the soap, I was in love. Now, I realize why people love art: they find something that makes them happy and peaceful.

I called Edward. “I need more soap. Where can I get it?”

“I bought it at St. Simons Drugstore but I don’t know if they still carry that fragrance.”

A few weeks ago, we were down on the island so I stopped by the store to check. My high school friend, Vandy McArthy, works there but it was her day off. Another woman said, “We might be getting the peony scent back in.”

Vandy emailed the next day, “As soon as we have it again, I’ll let you know.”

Meanwhile, I’m using other fragrances from the company: Lemon Basil and Almond Honey until Peony returns.

This soap is the first piece of art I’ve owned. And I love it.