That Lowcountry feeling is special

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: LOCAL Life asked Jody Hayward to share her thoughts on what it means to be local. Hayward is the executive director for the Port Royal Sound Foundation. LOCAL Life welcomes letters to the editor and comments to our website. Write to 

By Jody Hayward

Port Royal Sound Foundation Executive Director Jody Hayward, right, is shown with retired board member Joan Crawford in the life-sized megalodon jaw at the Sharon & Dick Stewart Maritime Center on Lemon Island. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Learn more at

Growing up in Augusta, Georgia, two of the top destinations for my friends during the summer were Hilton Head and Fripp Island. I started visiting in the early ‘80s, and quickly understood the allure of this beautiful area.

My parents eventually moved to Skidaway Island in Savannah, and each time I visited them from Atlanta, this feeling of relaxation would come over me as I crossed over the Moon River (the one that Audrey Hepburn sang about in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1961). It’s the same feeling I get today as I come home to Beaufort after a trip somewhere outside of the Lowcountry.

That feeling is something I don’t take for granted. I try to be mindful of the flow of the water, the colors of the salt marsh and the gracefulness of the blue heron as I travel from island to island. That Lowcountry feeling is special. It’s not something you can always appreciate until you’ve lived somewhere else. My teenaged girls have grown up here, and I feel confident that one day they will long for that Lowcountry feeling that so many of us value. 

If I had to pick one thing that defines our area, it’s the water. For eight years I’ve had the honor of helping people connect to the beautiful waters that saturate our landscape. They have influenced our history and culture, supported our economy and provided for our Lowcountry way of life, not to mention that Lowcountry feeling that we are so lucky to have.

As our area changes and evolves and newcomers flock here to enjoy what we love, we all have a responsibility to help preserve and protect what defines us. The Port Royal Sound covers over half of our area and is a system that includes the rivers and creeks that we have the pleasure to experience each day. It is our Sound – we surround it – we influence it – we benefit from it – and we are responsible for it. 

Although I’ve lived here now for 18 years, I still sometimes feel like a newcomer, still learning about the rich history, unique environment and incredible culture that differentiates us and lures people to our shores. That Lowcountry feeling is something to enjoy, appreciate and preserve for generations to come.

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