LETTER TO THE EDITOR: LOCAL Life asked Sun City resident Joe Paduch to share her thoughts about what it means to be local. Paduch, a former occupational therapist, now dabbles in creative endeavors as a member of the Photography Club and All About Art Club in Sun City. LOCAL Life welcomes letters to the editor and comments to our website. Write to [email protected].
By Jo Paduch
A family trip to Hilton Head Island in 1968 encouraged daydreams of a return. Sand dollars on the beach were as valuable to me at age 16 as my earned babysitting dollars. The rhythm of the Gullah language was music to my ears. Gullah history fascinated me. That you could ride a bike on the beach was a thrill. To witness alligators with their bulging eyes and long snouts cruise through the lagoons like kayaks on a lake was amazing. I considered our family vacation to Hilton Head to be like the 1960s TV show, “Adventures in Paradise.” I yearned to go back to the Island. And we did.
We retired to the Lowcountry in 2011. For the last decade, we have awakened daily to the cacophonous cawing of crows perched on the towering pine trees surrounding our house. A walk in the neighborhood provides opportunities to see cranes and herons and wood storks build their nests and feed their babies. From our patio we giggle at the gymnastics of a fox playing on a grassy knoll. Darting across the yard and racing up and down trees are the mischievous masked fox squirrels. The deer are abundant and bold, capable of staring you in the eye as they lust after the flowers you have nurtured for years. Wild turkeys, with heads held high, march along pathways and scatter into woods when they are spooked. Dragonflies with gossamer wings and rolling eyes take in 360 degrees of information before they fly to their next landing. Hummingbirds collect nectar from trumpet-shaped flowers. Anoles scramble on sidewalks and house walls and garage doors, seeking to pounce on their unsuspecting prey.
The abundance of flora and fauna in the Lowcountry is breathtaking. A symphony of buzzing bees dance in the Spring’s pink and white azaleas. A deep breath of fresh air sweetens the aroma of majestic magnolias. The spartina grass transforms from its dull winter shade to its vibrant lime green that sparkles in the sunshine at the water’s edge. Summer is simply hot and humid. The massive oak trees, draped in Spanish moss, provide shaded relief. The warm ocean waters draw people of all ages to frolic in the surf. Watermelons and fresh tomatoes fill roadside stands. Autumn brings relief from the oppressive heat. The days shorten and nights are cooler. Long walks are cherished. Open windows create soft breezes that choreograph dancing curtains. The air invigorates. Winter season is short. Freezing temperatures are rare. A jacket or sweater is donned by necessity, not by choice. But by mid-February there are welcome signs of spring. Birds chirp. Flowers boom. Grass greens.
For everything there is a season. The Lowcountry provides a smorgasbord of sensory input. The environment provides peace as I listen, see, smell, touch and taste the wonders that living in the Lowcountry stage for us day after day and season after season.