I’d had enough. Twenty years on a Florida barrier island. Hurricanes, hurricanes, and more hurricanes. The bridge to the island even got blown out once. Did I mention sharks? Plenty of them, and their feeding time happened to coincide with my favorite swimming times: at night, in the early morning, or late in the day. And alligators. Not on a barrier island, you say? They don’t swim in salt water? Well, I’m here to tell you that alligators swim in fresh water, in sewer water, in chlorinated swimming pool water, and, in the summer, in salt water. They’ll come right up on the beach, just when you’re ready for bikinis and such. A real mood killer, those alligators. To save the meanest for last, there are cotton-mouthed moccasins. Everywhere. Under your house, on the trails through the woods, just waiting for you when you get out of your kayak to stretch your legs. But it’s the August humidity that usually drives Florida crackers to the mountains every summer.
Coming from Florida to Upstate South Carolina is like moving from Mars to Earth, so I enrolled in the Clemson Upstate Master Naturalist program, to begin what will surely be a life-long learning process to understand this amazing natural world of Lake Jocassee and the Jocassee Gorges. Kay has since completed the program as well, but as a native North Carolinian, she knew way more than me to begin with. When it comes to plants, to flowers, to trees, she’s got me whipped, but I’ve got her over a barrel when it comes to geology, to birds, to the climate. I intend to keep it that way. Otherwise she’d be a mess to live with. It has become quite a pleasure for me to be an occasional writer about our area in both the South Carolina Wildlife Magazine and the Jocassee Journal. Lastly, I must admit that I live to swim, and Lake Jocassee is the most sublime swimming experience I have ever enjoyed. You can take the boy out of Florida, but you just can’t get the boy out of the water!
* And since Kay’s won’t mention it, I should tell you that she is an extraordinary garden writer. In Florida, she wrote a regular column for two newspapers. Since moving to the shores of Lake Jocassee, she has been the garden columnist for the Sentinel, the bi-monthly publication for FOLKS (Friends of Lake Keowee). Lastly, she has recently penned her first children’s book, ‘Tales from a Tree’. The narrator is an oak tree. Imagine that.