My husband is one of seven children. Add in spouses and eighteen grandchildren and the numbers add up fast. That doesn't include the various aunts, uncles, and cousins who join us every year. Luckily, my in-laws live on Wray's Landing--five acres along the Bohicket Creek on a sea island south of the city.
Besides playing with their many, many cousins, my children love Wray's Landing
because it's one of the few places where they have complete freedom.
They can swim in the creek,
run out the long dock to find the boats or any stray cousins,
throw the shrimp net,
swing beneath one of the many oak trees.
or catch crabs.
And if that doesn't work, we can head over to Wando Shrimp and buy dinner right off the trawler.
For me, there's Nana's garden. As a master gardener and an official Charleston Gardens Tour Guide, my mother-in-law has one of the loveliest gardens in the Low Country.
But the most beautiful plants in Nana's garden aren't just her flowers.
Since her house sits on the original site of "Cottage Plantation", an indigo and rice plantation dating to the eighteenth century, the property boasts magnificent Live Oaks,
a few almost a thousand years old.
These storm-scarred trees have bowed low before hurricanes,
Except, while centuries of laughter and tears whistle through their branches, the children show no respect. The trees are climbed,
forced to endure games of hide-and-seek and flashlight tag,
then enlisted as bunkers for spontaneous Nerf battles.
But maybe that's as it should be, for the old to patiently guide the young.
Because one day when these children face adult-sized storms of their own, they'll look back,
remember their childhood reunions in the arms of their family, safe beneath the canopy of trees,
and know that they are loved.
A special thanks to my niece Katie for sending me some of her photos of Wray's Landing.
What is a "Study in . . ."?