Oak leaves shimmer and dance in the wind. Morning sunlight filters in through the trees, the rays fighting their way through wisps of Spanish moss.

You can find this scene anywhere in South Carolina below the fall line, a vague geographic boundary that runs along the southeastern part of state, where the hard rock of the mountains gives way to the softer sand of the coastal plain. This is what they call the lowcountry. Marshes and ribbons of water. A place where everything is a little bit different. Dolphins in rivers, moss in trees.

We’ve been coming here off and on for decades. Always in the off season. Usually to Edisto, a small island at the edge of the world. A small island that is slowly, inexorably being pulled into the new world that has previously ignored it.

Nearby Charleston swells. Eddies of retirees swirl in from New England, the mid Atlantic, all weary of winter. The old southern culture is sinking like the land, pulled under the rising tides of something new.

People like to say they want to go somewhere different, but it’s been my experience that most people, the minute they get there, set about making it just like the place they left behind.

One day all that will remain of the old lowcountry culture will be like the dead, weather-worn trees on the beach at Botany Bay, making a lonely stand against the inevitability of the waves.

For now there are still pockets to be found. Hidden places. If you know where to look.

Don’t ask me. I’m not from here. I have no secrets to give. I am just passing through.


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