Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Deep South

We're way down in the deep South, camped out at Colleton State Park in SC, alongside the Edisto River, the longest blackwater river in the nation.  I grew up a few miles from here, so it feels like home.  It's good to hear people talk that don't have funny accents :-)

Here's Spanish Moss growing on the trees.   When I was young and traveled, I knew I was getting close to home when I saw Spanish Moss....

As I write this, the soft warm smell of the Carolina Jasmine is wafting through the camper's open windows, intermingled with the smell of the Loblolly Pines.  We made a twilight run into Walterboro for groceries, car windows down, Sophie's nose out the window, sniffing smells she's never smelled before.  We're wearing shorts and sandals.  The drugstore thermometer read 78 degrees at 6:45 in the evening, on this, March 1st.  I got a text from my son in Minnesota this morning that he got 4" of fresh snow.  Here's a Carolina Jasmine.

The Loblolly Pine is the preferred tree in local silvaculture.  It grows fast and makes strong lumber.

When you walk here, the soil is very sandy.  As you scuff up the pine needles and the live oak leaves, you stir up the smell of the Carolina Low Country, and for me, memories.  The Azalea bushes are just about in full bloom, with vibrant reds, purples, and whites.

We walked down to the river and the water was the rich dark color from the tannins in the swamp leaves.  

A half underwater picture taken with my waterproof camera, to try to show you the color of the water.  This is very clean water, but the tannins make it brown in the same way that your cup of tea is brown from the tannins in the tea leaves.

All along the trail were cypress trees, with their knees poking up through the water.  The trees are buttressed to make them more stable in the soft swamp soils.  Though there seems to be no consensus, the cypress knees are thought to provide stability for the trees, and possibly to allow the root systems to breath during periods of high water.  You can see yellow on the water surface from the pine trees' pollen, and signs of high water on the sides of the cypresses. You can also see a few knees poking up.

Here's a better picture of the cypress knees.  I used to hike pretty often in the bottom land of the swamp, where you could find knees as tall as 6 feet.  A lot of the big ones have been stolen, cut down and hauled away to make wood carvings and tables.

 When I lived here, there were no alligators.  Folks would swim, inner tube, and paddle at their leisure.  Now, you need to be more careful.

I always enjoyed canoeing in this water, because of the reflections...

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