Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average...
I have friends considering relocating to the Lowcountry, empty nesters of sorts. They’ve had the good fortune to experience life in a number of places, and are leaning towards our neck of the woods for their next chapter. I was asked what my ideal location would be if I could be anywhere I wanted. As a lowcountry native, where would I want to be? Where is that idyllic southern charm?
Hmmm. Good question; and quite honestly, its one I’ve never really tried to answer. I mean, I do know what I like and don’t like, so I guess that’s a start. The more I thought about the question though, the more I realized that this was an exercise I had to indulge, not so much for my friends, but for me.
Ideal - I don't know. Something with water though, even if it's inaccessible. I need the view. I also know that I want to stay in the Lowcountry. I get a sense of place here. For instance, my pharmacy still sells "the roots"... and by roots I mean traditional Gullah accoutrements like courthouse wash for cleaning the steps of the courthouse prior to a trial. Useful stuff, that is, if you should find yourself in such an unfortunate predicament. They also carry graveyard dirt, doves’ blood, and “do-as-I-say powder”...and no, I am not kidding. Now, it's not all out in the open. I mean - you do have to know to ask for it, but the fact that they still carry such paraphernalia is encouraging. You're not going to find that stuff just anywhere.
I'd also like to be able to walk or ride a bike to the market. Not just any market, but a well stocked market that carries local vegetables and traditional staples that keep one connected to the community and help to establish that sense of place. I need a good bookstore, a good coffee shop, a friendly barber, a clean pub, and some shade too. Shade can never be overestimated. I also need to be able to buy local shrimp and oysters. I'm proud of the fact that my six year old daughter knows how to shuck oysters, and as kind a soul as she is, she also knows that crabs are for eating and not for pets.
To me, pluff mud smells heavenly, and the scent of dry pine in the summer heat makes me homesick. I need a garden, although I will complain relentlessly about having to care for it. I need confederate jasmine, azaleas, lady banks roses, hydrangeas, and a few camellias to get me through the dreary albeit short winters. Grass is optional as I prefer ivy. As far as the house itself, lots of windows and a screen porch are my only criteria, unless you count the no vinyl declaration, which is more of an ultimatum than any sort of criteria. Hardie-plank is an acceptable alternative to Cyprus, but only if the original Cyprus has hurricane or insect damage (unlikely in either case).
I would also prefer to be within 50 miles of a college or University. If I have to pass a tractor on my way to pick up some milk, I'm getting warmer. A municipality that would relocate a power pole rather than trim a shade tree would also get high marks. I like the architecture of old churches too, but church-goers...not so much. Proximity to friends is very important, although we fancy ourselves as old souls and believe we have friends everywhere already, whether we have met them yet or not. Sidewalks are also good. If the concrete in the sidewalk contains crushed oyster shells, it's even better.
A place like this couldn't possibly be kept a secret, so a no tourist edict would be impractical. No Myrtle Beach tourist though, they're just plain bad. Bad, bad, bad. Eco-Tourist, maybe, but definitely none of those mini golf aficionados.
I also want some chickens, and maybe a goat too. In my hometown, many people still keep chickens. Some people even have peacocks. The old lady that lived down the street from me where I grew up had two peacocks. They were loud in more ways than one. My mom still refers to the gays as "peacocks” -
"My, he's a real peacock that one is".