|Top three photos by Helena Hooper Shepard|
The second I see the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees, I know I've come to the right place.
My brother, Mom and I decided to go to Edisto Beach, right outside of Charleston for a few days instead of hiking all summer. Driving in from the airport, Spanish Moss hung from trees, along the road, "tree hair" as the Native Americans called it; Tillandsia usneoides, is an epiphyte growing from the host plant, entwining itself around tree branches.
We drove South past old plantations to Palmetto Road and Edisto beach, where we rented a beach house. I picked up my old copy of Prince of Tides, reading it on the way, thinking about the lives we leave behind, that never quite disappear in the haze of memories.
“I wish I had no history to report. I’ve pretended for so long that my childhood did not happen,”
Pat Conroy wrote The Prince of Tides, 1986/1991, p. 8.
But we all do have childhoods and memories and places we live now.
There is a foreboding feeling driving here, past Ft Sumpter, where the Civil War we are a part of,
still lingers, without lessons learned.
“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call," Conroy writes to start the novel.
My friend Meagan was Pat's daughter. It was a lifetime ago that I read it in San Francisco.
Reading it again is a minder.
The novel still smells like that old thrift store where i bought it.
At the beach, we swim and play.
Wild birds, like pterodactyls fly overhead, looking for fish.
Watch out if they circle over the water and start diving, Will advises.
That means there are fish below.
And sharks are not far to follow.
If you've ever gone swimming in South Carolina, you've all been with the sharks.
Thunder strikes and kids get of the water.
Whats a little lightning.
Well, if you hear it, then you are already late.
Its not a bad way to go, notes a man on the beach, sitting drinking a beer.
We spend all day there, swimming, taking breaks, walking, eating, watching England and Colombia.
The Brits beat back the tides of history, winning on kicks.
We wander back to the water, looking for crabs and shark teeth.
The little one dances in the water.
Mom's 81-year-old bones take her out for a walk with us, the wind blowing through her hair.
Magic sunlight surrounds us as the kids play in the waves.
We'll cook a low country broil for July 4th and read the Constitution.
But today we dream,
Much Ado about Nothing for a day, as we make our way to sleep.
“Man wonders but God decides
When to kill the Prince of Tides.”
― Pat Conroy,