We’ve never stayed at the beach front campground in Edisto. We prefer the marsh campground, back from the beach, on the inland side of the salt grass marsh. It’s not any less crowded, but there’s at least some vegetation between sites.
There’s a trail that makes a roughly mile long loop through the marsh. It’s partly boardwalk built over the water, and partly a sandy trail that follows a series of hammocks running half the length of the marsh. I managed to get out on it most mornings, partly for the birding, partly to experiment with a walking form of meditation. I tried to time it so I’d be in the middle of the marsh at or around dawn.
It’s winter, which means many of the birds are well south, but there were enough around the make it interesting. I sat most mornings on the edge of the marsh for a few minutes marking all the slow waders that would disappear the minute I stepped out of the shadows. A kingfisher never cared what I did, it just fished and shrieked. As you do fishing.
I stumbled upon and startled the same hooded merganzer couple three mornings in a row. The first time it was a true surprise to all present when I rounded a corner and there they were. The second time we were all more startled that it had happened again, than startled I think. By the third morning it was no longer shocking, none of us flinched, we merely regarded each other for a while before moving on, they deeper into the water channels tracing their way through the marsh, me to the sandy side of the marsh walk.
One morning there was almost no bird life at all. I was standing in the middle of the boardwalk, wondering where everyone had gone, when a black glimmer of shadow shot across the water beside me. I knew it was an eagle before I ever looked up. I spent some time later trying to work out how I knew that, but I never arrived at anything beyond: I felt it.
By the time I found it with the binoculars it was on the far side of the marsh perched exactly where you’d expect an eagle to land, near the top of a huge dead pine, sitting on the most gnarled, skeletal branch. It sat watching the marsh, feathers ruffled, head cocked, unperturbed by cars passing on the road below.
As long as it was out there bird life in the marsh ceased. The kingfisher was still out fishing, but he was decidedly quite. Everything else made itself scarce. I walked the rest of the way back to the campground without touching my binoculars. When you see a bald eagle you see little else. It’s worth the trade off.
Charleston is a good town for wandering. The main street is mostly shopping, but if you duck off on the side streets you’ll stumble across all sort of odd things, little parks, squares, churches, centuries old buildings abound.
We’ve always used the lack of laundry in Edisto as an excuse to drive up to Charleston. It’s like a tradition at this point — we do our laundry, eat some Thai or Vietnamese, and wander the streets of downtown, seeing what we see, including something new for us in our travels: a sunscreen dispenser.
I don’t know why I find this so disturbing but I do. There’s some kind of cautionary metaphor in this disgusting clump of caked white paste, but I’m not exactly sure what it is yet.
Sometimes, when you’re young, you’ve just had enough of walking. You just want to stand still and fish. Our friends Charlie and Allison have been coming down here for decades and they showed us the best fishing spots. This one was ridiculous. I’ve never fished somewhere you could throw out a line, wait less than five minutes and reel in a fish. Consistently. For hours. Best place to take your kids fishing ever.
Standing still has its place, but if you’re young and you happen to live with us, you’ll probably be walking again before too long. The world is too big to see standing still.