Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Come For a Hike With Us

  Some trails at Santee Coastal Preserve close to humans for three months of the winter.  Last weekend it was so wonderful to return to one of our favorites, the Cape Trail.  

  This trail follows a system of dikes built by slave labor in the 1700s to create the rice fields that brought great wealth to the white planters of South Carolina. 

While a walker is high and dry, on either side of the trail, water fills marshes through a system of rice gates, technology invented in Africa centuries ago and carried by the enslaved workers to America.

 Beyond the rice fields that line the coast, on the horizon lie the coastal barrier islands and beyond them, the Atlantic Ocean. 


   We enter this watery world, passing along a path lined with gnarled old cedars and live oaks. The trees lean in unison to the west, permanently bowed by the many hurricanes they have survived, their trunks reminiscent of old hands that have completed many years of work. 



We walk on and soon the trees give way, ushering us to a vista of miles of marsh.

  Spanish cane, also brought by the enslaved workers from Africa to keep the dikes from eroding away, still autumn-brown and taller than our heads, shelters red-winged blackbirds. The birds greet us, calling out their spring song: Conk-a-Reeeee, conk-a-reeeeeee.  

  Stopping to admire the open view, we quickly locate fishing egrets and herons, a flock of white ibises in flight along the far tree line, their bright orange curved bills making them identifiable from a great distance.  Above us, vultures glide the thermals, tilting their wings this way and that, skillfully grabbing free rides on updrafts of air. 
  Yellow-rumped and pine warblers chase each other in and out of the foliage of the water oaks at the edge. “Now-you-see-‘em, now-you-don’t” as they nab newly-woken insects on the fly. 

  From the bright sun of the open marsh we move into the dampness of a cypress swamp — the Forest Primevil, a dark place that seems to emit its own light. 

  The trees, covered with lichens, glow yellow and red and white, appear as if lit from within. 

The clear fresh water of the swamp displays a carpet of flat-leafed green circles and moss, 
a whole world just below its surface.

  Santee Coastal Preserve has “preserved” our sanity during this year of lockdowns, sheltering in, and avoiding people during the Covid pandemic. We are so grateful to live where we could get out of the house often and still be safe. 

  We will finally get our first shot of the vaccine tomorrow! Hopefully the world will open up to us soon and we will be able to venture farther when the second dose is administered and takes effect. 

  I find myself musing about what I most want to be able to do when the world is safer again and I surprised myself by realizing that what I want most is to go INSIDE  a grocery store and pick out my OWN produce! No more brown lettuce! No more shriveled oranges the size of pingpong balls! No more moldy onions! Of course the biggest thing really will be to see family again, but it’s surprising how important (and missed) the little things have been as well. 


  1. A very different environment to my familiar surroundings. I would like to walk amongst those trees and look into the clear water. What am I looking forward to? Seeing family and friends of course but I long to go swimming, walk past the familiar London buildings, be able to explore areas around the underground stations. Not much longer, hopefully.

  2. Our first trip will be to drive west to Buffalo to see that daughter and family.

    Such a beautiful spot to walk.

  3. My first thought when I saw the next to last photo, was that it looked like a layer of coins thrown into it much like a wishing fountain. My wife and I have gotten our first vaccine and can't wait to get the second dose. We are feeling so confident about the effectiveness that today we booked a trip to see the Biltmore in North Carolina.

  4. Looks like a place where you would need a good dose of mosquito repellent!
    Great to learn that you are NOW getting the Covid shots - just being started here in Australia
    for the medical staff and the aged care homes.
    We now only have to wear masks on public transport and unlike what we see on US news - WE OBEY
    or get a hefty fine.
    I was shocked to see the passengers on that B777-200 from Denver to Honolulu - 231 of them
    when that engine caught on fire to be maskless???? Madness. Planes here on domestic routes only
    can fly 1/3 full and at naturally an inflated fare!
    One can only scratch one's head at stupidity and irresponsibility.
    Cheers and good luck - Biden is doing a great job.

  5. Such a pretty place to walk! So good to hear you are getting your vaccinations! Hope all goes well for you! I know what you mean about the produce...with us it is damaged bananas and tomatoes and the moldy grapes...uffda... and everything thrown into one bag...squishing bread and puncturing foil tops on yogurt. :)

  6. Great trip through some important historical land.

  7. A joy to walk with you through a preserved historical area and ponder those that went before. Thrilled for you that you are getting your vaccine. We are just waiting for the date for our 2nd ones. Family is high on the agenda and a trip to the mainland for some shopping would be nice.

  8. Good to have an area like that to visit and explore in these restrictive times. Glad to hear you're getting a jab soon, maybe we'll get back to something near normal soon.

  9. It is sobering to think that African slaves made their rice-growing technology available to their white owners, so that they could profit from their minds as well as their bodies. The vaccine will help us to get back to normal soon - at least that's our hope. As for grocery shopping, I have never stopped doing my own, so that will not be high on my list of priorities. Hugging, shaking hands, holding they're things that I am looking forward to.

  10. Lovely to take a wander with you here! Yay for your first vaccines and yes we are seeing seeds of hope for the world opening up in with us in Thailand by the end of the year for those with vaccines! I can't wait to see family again too.
    Wren x

  11. This is so interesting, and so pretty. In that next to the last picture, I thought those were pennies, or coins in the water. I kept expecting to see an alligator slithering along.

  12. The only shop we are allowed to go in is the supermarket thank goodness. With all the rules ofcours, wearing masks and cleaning hands. You have great nature around there. Here we have walked the same area for months now, I know every tree now...