Imagine a magnolia so big that two adults and a child would need to stretch arms around it to touch fingers. There's one on St. Phillips Island, the state's newest park property.
This is what fascinates me living here. You step out your front door and white ibises cruise overhead by the dozens, a pair of barred owls in the woods gurgle their mating calls like they were laughing, or three wild turkeys stand you off in the neighborhood street.
I've never lived in a place so populated that was still so wild. The more you explore it the more you find to explore. The opportunities are as wide open as the coastal landscape. Surfers leap off piers shaking from hurricane-roiled monster breakers, just for the thrill ride.
If you fish, there are stripers even far upstream in the creeks. If you hunt, there's seasons for nearly everything from turkeys to bear, an annual lottery for alligators, as well as all the invasive feral pigs and coyotes you can get your sights on, with a few rules.
If you just like to hike, you can hop on the Palmetto Trail in Cape Romain, take it through the cypress bottoms in Wadboo Swamp and keep going, all the way to the Foothills Trail to the Chattooga Trail to the Bartram Trail to the Appalachian Trail and its spur into Canada.
Or just take the stroll down the causeway at Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve to a wild beach as pelicans glide past. Watch sunrise and sunset from the same spot in the dunes on Edisto Island or any number of other beaches, camp in the dunes and listen in the dark for that huff of breath in the water as dolphin slip by.
This place is riverlands though, and to really know it you need to get back in the blackwater, where red shouldered hawks fly past at eye level, river otters pop out from burrows in the bank and the cypress knees surround you like gnomes. People swear they have seen panther in the bottoms on Wambaw Creek.
Rainbow swamps and rainbow snakes, white-fringed orchids and Venus fly traps, bandit-eyed fox squirrels, black squirrels and white squirrels, figured live oaks with their massive branches over the roadway, nature as ancient as prehistoric shark's teeth and as new as the recently identified Carolina hammerhead shark — you want to to know what all is unique about the Lowcountry? It's outside.