Edisto Island, South Carolina
The rays of the setting sun tint everything in sight with a warm orange glow as I meander northeast on Botany Bay Road into the Botany Bay Plantation. Colors intensify as the long shadows fall and tree trunks become orange columns under the bright low sun. The arches created by the live oak branches over the roadway give a sense of natural gothic architecture tunneling us down the yellow sand and gravel to the
entrance gate. Ahead are open fields decorated with loblolly pines, live oak, and bald cypress trees while knee high winter grasses and cabbage palmetto turn golden in the sun’s warming rays. An air of mystery like a romance novel fills the atmosphere of the plantation forest. The mood enhanced by superb Spanish moss hanging all about as Mother Nature has thickly decorated each tree randomly with long silver-green, straw-like beards coloquially known as air plant. The moss is home to rat snakes, three species of bats and the jumping spider. The live oak branches are further decorated with bright green resurrection fern that turns brown with drought, resurrecting itself after heavy rainfall. The plantation roads are lined with row-like stands of trees where once one can imagine
wooden fences contained farm horses, riding horses, cows and other livestock; here and there a sprinting chicken, farm dogs or cats. All of that now gone leaving wide open empty pastures decorated with shade trees with bottom branches manicured evenly at the height a deer can reach for tender young branch sprouts.
Tiny birds hip-hop from branch to branch: pine warblers and yellow throated warblers, chickadees. Depending on the season one can see and hear a variety of songbirds: vireos, tanagers, of course the warblers. It is a pleasure to sit leaning on a large tree trunk quietly watching as the day meanders slowly, ever so gradually to a stop and the night rolls in like a fog. The plantation closes at sunset. At the 19th century ice house, one of the few remaining structures of that bygone age, I check my bearings, and vow to return for an afternoon hike out Indian Point trail.
The sun is almost gone, leaving only quiet light to guide me back to the entrance gate. The rows of trees must have been purposely planted in their uniform fencelike positions along the roadway; their symmetry rendering the landscape to quiet dignity.
Eventide advances over pastures and quiet farmlands putting the daylight to sleep, birds tucked in their nests, clouds rimmed golden yellow then pink, then lavender. The deer begin to poke their noses through the thickets
sniffing and watching the visitor as I pass through the gate. The squirrels give way as the little night animals begin to come forth: opossum, raccoon, snipe, rabbits, feral cats’ activities just beginning. I stop for a moment to gaze back surveying the charming scene; certainly I will return another day. Watch for Part Two: Indian Point Trail Hike.