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Searching for Solitude and Discovering Paradise

July 21, 2008

By David Lauderdale, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Jul. 21–Thanks to Mary Dempsey of Sun City

Hilton Head for sharing her

special view of the Lowcountry.

It’s late in the afternoon; the sun is setting and I know I must leave this place and head for home. I have been standing on the dock at the end of a long boardwalk for quite some time. Upon my arrival the wooden walkway crossed sparkling water, but now I see that the tide has gone out and my return trip will take me over the mud flats. The ebb and flow of the river tides still fascinate me. How the landscape changes within a matter of hours!

I have been watching men on this dock as they wordlessly toss shrimp nets out into the briny waters. Their movements flow with such grace. There is much skill involved and someday, I tell myself, I too will be casting among them. Earlier in the day, boys were crabbing, patiently waiting for some mysterious signal telling them it was time to pull up the traps and measure their catch. Most crabs were too small, and the undersized were reluctantly tossed back in the water to be caught, perhaps, another day.

I came here from the North, and I still cannot tell you how I ended up in this paradise. I never vacationed here. I knew no one. I stumbled upon the Lowcountry by chance, a wrong turn leading me here. With the passing of my mother, the final tie with the North was broken. I wrapped up my sorrow and headed for the road with no destination in mind. I, the planner, the map-reader, the reservation-maker, just locked the doors of my home and headed for the highway.

In two days I drove more than 700 miles heading south toward warmer days and sunnier skies. My need for solitude and re-energizing drew me toward water. What could offer more water than the Lowcountry with its meandering rivers, estuaries, expansive marshes and gentle ocean waves? As though being pulled by some unseen force, I headed toward an island. As I crossed the bridge connecting the island to the mainland, I was enthralled with my surroundings, acres and acres of marsh, a fishing dock, boats and sparkling blue water reflecting the early morning sun. My decision was made. It was here I would put down roots and start anew. I was smitten by the Lowcountry! It was love at first sight.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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