I was asked, "What are your favorite things about the Lowcountry,” and quite frankly I had to scratch my head. Did they mean what I liked to eat? My best Charleston experience? Best vista for a sunset?
So in an attempt to answer all the questions, here are a few of my experiences in the Lowcountry, the things that tug at my heart and call me home.
Like the time I went out on an oyster boat in December to watch these strong, bold men maneuver their small jon boats into a silent creek, with a freezing dawn light barely illuminating the mud bank. It’s hard work, wading through pluff mud, piling shovelfuls of them high in the boat and pushing back into the creek to hit another spot. It’s a race against time, since the mud banks are only accessible at mid to low tide and the oyster shells are dagger sharp and slippery.
The oysters they harvest are sweet and slightly earthy, for many an acquired taste started at a neighbor’s oyster roast. We like ours grilling in the cold over an open fire – summers are for barbecue that is slow cooked all night long and served the next day with corn bread, cole slaw and maybe some baked beans. Something to go along with our sweet tea.
An experience? Most recently that would be successfully finishing the Cooper River Bridge Run – a 10K with 40,000 of your friends. The run starts in the early morning in Mount Pleasant – you have to get a ride over there at dawn and the weather can be unpredictable since it is always the first weekend after Easter. There is the urgency of the run or walk as you pass about a mile of businesses before coming up the approach to THE BRIDGE.
It’s more majestic than you might think, with those white cables climbing to the sky. As you cross, people around you are laughing and talking (I was with the walkers) and the feeling of being there is communal. The vistas are 360, and Charleston and Mount Pleasant are laid out below you. In one view, you can see where sailing ships first entered the harbor almost 350 years ago.
About those sunsets. If you think I’m going to tell you one perfect place for a sunset in the Lowcountry, I’m not. Instead, I’m going to tell you to find a patch of marsh, a cool breeze and a low humidity day, and face west. Whatever you see next is the pink and purple splashes we get, especially after a rainstorm, heading into about 7 p.m on a summer night. The light show will slowly shift fading to black.
And a favorite inspiration? You can’t live in this old city without touching items that have been here awhile – traces of those who have gone before and made this city what it is. Like the worn steps of City Hall, where the marble undulates from so many patrons. Or the graceful sweep of lace painted on an ancestor at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Or the crooked slate that makes up our sidewalks, a remnant of building materials past. These are small remnants of those ancestors who were brave enough to make it to a new world.
Charleston is unique. It has painted houses and wrought-iron gates, yes, but it also has grand oaks shading rural roads, and a friendliness that is passed from generation to generation. People often come to Charleston for its past, searching for ancestors, enchanted by its beaches and rivers, but leave with a sense of its lively present and the spirit of entrepreneurship that calls them back again.