Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lessons on living from grass and salt water

If you've never looked out across a lowcountry marsh you've missed one of nature's special works.  Aside from the complexity and diversity of the ecosystem, it's just plain beautiful, stretching for miles over salt water and grass interrupted only occasionally by a resilient evergreen.  It has the same effect, on me at least, of looking at mountain ranges or prairies.

The family unit has landed here for the week, my first stretch of more than 2 weekdays off in several years and it won't go to waste. A little fishing, exploring the creeks by kayak, some unadulterated kid fun on the beach, and overlaying it all an opportunity to place certain things back in their pockets of proper perspective.

I have a natural tendency to worry. Not the scared-to-leave-the-house kind of worry or the quivering-mess-unless-I-medicate-it kind of worry, more the tendency to see potential problems and overwork my brain about what I can do to prevent them kind of worry. In my younger days it was suppressed by things like hormones and adrenalin and brute ignorance. I didn't worry too much because there was always something else in my brain keeping it occupied. That or, as was often the case, I was too dumb to see trouble coming. The veil of this lifts with age, though, and reveals all manner of things to worry about if you're built that way.

As I've confronted it over the last few years I've realized that more often than not it boils down to a sense of control. There's this illusion that because you can control certain things, you can control everything if you work at it hard enough. That's horseshit, and I know it's horseshit, but it's a tough notion to set free. Setting it free is rather important, however, if you want to be happy.

There will always, ALWAYS, be potential catastrophe. Not impending, but potential, possible, imaginable. Your roof could spring a leak. The industry that supports your business could collapse. You could get cancer. And you can only do so much to prevent it. Beyond that line is beyond your control.

Nothing is immune from disaster, not even this marsh. Almost exactly 24 years ago a hurricane with the comical name of Hugo screamed through here leaving only the top few feet of the trees in the picture above water. Houses became swamped, soggy messes that took months to refurbish. Boats, still attached to their trailers, were found miles inland.

The marsh eventually digested the trash, absorbed the waves of sand and went on about its business of being a marsh, different in places but not measurably better or worse. If it's at all like me, it worries about the next Hugo. But it's not like me, and therein lies the lesson.


  1. The beauty of the low country marsh lies in horizontal sweeps of seasonal green, blue, brown, black and grey. There is nothing quite like it. The coasts of Ga and SC contain more than half the salt marsh of the eastern seaboard.

    1. It's a source of comfort knowing I'm this close, especially when I think about how far I am from the prairies and (Rocky) mountains.