Thursday, June 27, 2013
There are moments when we all just have to stop thinking about the cares and events of life, experience a dramatic moment in the natural world, and revel in the joy of just being alive. Watching Sunday’s Super Moon rise over the marsh to the east of Mount Pleasant was one of those moments for me.
I was blessed to enjoy this Super Moon rise from the same place I enjoyed it last time – a little hummock just off Mount Pleasant that has a sweeping view of the marsh all the way out to the Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. It’s a great place to watch the moonrise in the east while enjoying fellowship with people I love.
I’ve been told by people who have researched this little hummock that it is a treasure trove of Indian artifacts. Of course Native Americans enjoyed this breezy, sandy little island for the same reasons that we do – as an escape from the heat and mosquitoes of hot Lowcountry evenings. We remark every trip that the mosquitoes could carry you away on the mainland, but out the hummock, where the sea breeze stays strong after sunset, the bugs aren’t a bother.
As we watched the flood tide cover the marsh until it looked like a new bay, my mind wondered to the Seewee Indians who watched this beauty for countless years before our ancestors arrived. Legend has it that they were friendly to the European settlers at first, but after too many raw deals with them, decided to load up their dugouts, paddle east across the ocean, and see the great white chief about the conduct of his settlers. They were never seen again.
This is written about in East Cooper native John Leland’s book, “Porcher’s Creek, Lives Between the Tides,” (2002, University of South Carolina Press)
“Camped upon shell islands we’d been told were Seewee village sites, we’d sit around a fire and rehearse the Seewee’s sad history. As the fire died and the night grew, we scared each other with tales our father had told us, of how you could listen late at night when the wind was off the sea and hear, faint and far away, the cries of drowning Indians, of how fishermen had reported seeing, when the moon was low and the tide high, dugouts filled with silent Indians, a skeleton crew whose feathered skulls grinned at their fleshy audience and vanished.” (p. 84)
As the Super Moon rose, it flooded the East Cooper marshes with a tide of moonlight that equaled the waters in the marsh. In all of this splendor, I didn’t see any visions of Seewee Indians slipping quietly by in their dugouts. What I did see, though, was the car lights of countless ants marching back along the causeways from the islands. There, the human tide floods on summer weekends and ebbs about the same time every Sunday evening.
I wondered how many of them had stopped to take in this moment of unmatched natural beauty, and thought about how many times those are my headlights strung in the twinkling bead of evening traffic leaving the islands. I wondered if we, the new heirs of this special place, can take care of these marshes, these hummocks, this water, and these trees so the cycle of life continues, or if, like the Seewee Indians, we too might just disappear.
Deep down, I know that despite all our flaws, at just the right moments we will stop, look at the moon, watch the tide come in and we will be alright.
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist. His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.firstname.lastname@example.org.