Search for Solitude

“The ebb and flow of the river tides fascinate me. How the landscape changes within a matter of hours.”

By Bluffton resident Mary Dempsey

It’s late in the afternoon; the sun is setting and I know I must leave this place and head for home. I have been standing on the dock at the end of a long boardwalk for quite some time. Upon my arrival, the wooden walkway crossed sparkling water, but now I see that the tide has gone out and my return trip will take me over the mud flats. The ebb and flow of the river tides fascinate me. How the landscape changes within a matter of hours!

I have been watching men on this dock as they wordlessly toss shrimp nets out into the briny waters. Their movements flow with such grace. There is much skill involved and someday, I tell myself, I too will be casting among them. Earlier in the day, boys were crabbing, patiently waiting for some mysterious signal telling them it was time to pull up the traps and measure their catch. Most crabs were too small and the undersized were reluctantly tossed back in the water to be caught, perhaps another day.

LOCAL SINCE 2006 – Mary Dempsey is shown at the MCAS Beaufort Air Show and catching Chester Cheetah by the tail at the opening of the Bluffton Walmart.

I stumbled upon the Lowcountry by chance. With the passing of my mother, the final tie to the north was broken. I wrapped up my sorrow and headed for the road with no destination in mind. I, the planner, the map-reader, the reservation-maker, just headed for the highway.

In two days I drove more than 700 miles heading south toward warmer days and sunnier skies. My need for solitude and re-energizing drew me toward water. What could offer more water than the Lowcountry with its meandering rivers, estuaries, expansive marshes and gentle ocean waves? As I crossed a bridge connecting the mainland to an island, I was enthralled with my surroundings: acres and acres of marsh, a fishing dock, boats and sparkling blue water reflecting the early morning sun. My decision was made. It was here I would put down roots and start anew. I was smitten by the Lowcountry! It was love at first sight.

I am now a woman of the Lowcountry and I still seek places of solitude. An early morning walk on the beach, a stroll on Pinckney Island, a picnic table in Jasper Park, a trail on Hunting Island, and of course my favorite spot, the fishing dock where this long reflection began.

Yes, it truly was love at first sight and if it is possible for a place to be a “soulmate,” I have found mine.

Letter to the editor

Bluffton resident Mary Dempsey sent us the following letter about what being local means to her. Dempsey retired to the Lowcountry in 2006 from Clinton, N.J., where she was a school teacher and owned a book shop. LOCAL Life welcomes letters to the editor and comments to our website. Write to [email protected].