When I was in third grade, I wrote an award-winning poem entitled, Loving Animals (It won the school and went on to win the county-wide poetry contest. However, one of my third grade classmates was not convinced and told me that her poem deserved to win because she wrote “about love.” Even as a third grader I enjoyed the sarcasm quite a bit and told her, “Well I guess you didn’t read the title of my poem.”). The smash success of the poem was followed up by a play that I wrote on saving manatees that was performed to the elementary school by my class of gifted students. I played the kindly Fish and Wildlife officer who lectured the out of control speedboat drivers about the need to slow down while in the manatees natural habitat (even then, I also loved a good lecture). When I was the same age, I can be seen in Street family home videos lamenting to my mom that the Everglades Kite (a kind of bird) was “becoming extinct.” I cared very much.
However, as with most things in my life, I didn’t show much of follow-through and although I always cared about endangered species, I didn’t grow up and become a Fish and Wildlife Officer or show consistent passion for the cause. My sister, Melissa, however did. She is the conversation biology major who grew up to work on two different wildlife refuges and now teaches the new generation about loving all things natural. Since she couldn’t engage in many of the sporting activities of the trip, she led the way in participating in the nature activities.
First, there was the beach. It had sand, not as white as Pensacola Beach, but that did sparkle in the sunlight.
The thing about Hilton Head is that, although it is a big time resort destination, considerable pride has been maintained in preserving natural Hilton Head. This of course, is in contrast to the tackier developments of Myrtle Beach up the coast. As proper Southern girls, we learned from the movie Shag that respectable young ladies do not go to Myrtle Beach without their parents’ permissions. Probably the reason for this has to do with what happens to the human psyche when we wantonly destroy nature. However, it is perfectly respectable for young ladies to enjoy the wonders of Hilton Head with its natural surroundings like Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge:
There, the wading and swamp birds live in abundance, like these two Anhingas, identified by Melissa as “pretty common swamp birds”:
The Pinckney Island refuge also provided a few grassy areas ideal for taking a nap and enjoying a perfect spring day:
Just be careful where you rest, or course, as there are American Alligators (a threatened species), lurking in the brush:
Aside from my leaf project in seventh grade, when I had to identify 60 different trees through their leaves, I am not so good at identifying the flora as the fauna. However, I do want to point out how lovely the mix of live oaks and palmettos are, and how the combination of trees provides the most glorious shade around.
In the water, we observed ospreys carefully attending to their young in their lofty perches.