A Love Letter from Avery Bowman

Emily:

This past week, my husband and I got a good look into our future by housing my cousin's 9 year old son, Avery. His free time was spent schooling us at SkeeBall, teaching our 9 month old to 'RAWR', walking our dog, reading books from the library, and catching a foul ball at the RiverDogs game. His visit was timed to attend Coastal Expeditions' Young Naturalist Summer Camp. Like any good auntie (Familial Relations 101, anyone?) would do, I had him journal about his daily experiences to save and share with his family back in Tennessee. And as you can see below, to share with Lowcountry Love Letters.

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First, about the camp:
"Each day at Coastal Expeditions brings a new adventure and includes activities like pulling a seining net along the shores of a barrier island, kayaking alongside a manatee in Shem Creek or exploring a bird rookery in the Charleston Harbor.  Your young naturalist will experience the Lowcountry in a way that will foster a life-long love for this unique environment.

Our camps foster kayak skills, leadership, team building, self esteem, and environmental appreciation. Making learning fun while participating in interactive activities is our goal for your young naturalist."

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And now, from Avery:

MONDAY
First day of camp means meeting new friends. Kayaked for the first time ever! Bonus- it was with dolphins. Kind of wondering if I'm going to see them every day. We went on an adventure walk at the Shem Creek Pier and saw a million crabs.
Quote of the Day (QOTD): "Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

TUESDAY
First time paddle boarding. We went twice and it was so awesome. I sat most of the time. It's really difficult to stand up! Dolphins were there to say 'hi'. Pretty sure a jellyfish got me. Not my first time with that experience. Went swimming off of the dock.

WEDNESDAY
Another day, another dolphin. More kayaking today. I'm learning more about the rudder and which direction the paddle will send me. Hint: It's the opposite direction you're moving it.

THURSDAY
Day trip to Bulls Island! The waves were awesome. We also got to visit a wolf sanctuary. The boat was neat, but we didn't see any dolphins.

FRIDAY
Paddle boarding is becoming my favorite, but man do my arms hurt. We went to Fort Moultrie today. Dolphins were back. 4 days out of 5 isn't bad.

FAVORITES
Ocean Waves on Bulls Island
Fort Moultrie

LEAST FAVORITES
Water shoe blisters
Applying sunscreen

FAVORITE ONE LINER
"Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

 Daily Journaling

Daily Journaling

Guess who's already asking to come back next summer? We'll gladly take you, Avery.

What should we check out next year when he's here? 

 

 Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

A Love Letter from Abbie Pribble

Abbie:

Let me paint a picture for you:

It’s the summer after my freshman year of college at ECU.  My crazy 19 year old self batted my eyes at daddy so I could use all of his airline miles to visit the best big brother ever in his new city for the 4th of July.  Michael has always taken care of me and always thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t blame him… I’m a pretty cool little sister—just kidding. Anyway, it’s safe to say we are pretty darn close. We were excited to get to spend time together as siblings AND friends, just the two of us. 

So, my dad had to give me step-by-step directions on how to fly on my own. I followed them to a T, changed planes, and finally arrived at CHS! Do you ever have those random moments that you look back on and you can remember every detail? That’s how I feel about this trip. As we drove away from North Charleston and towards Mount Pleasant, I couldn’t help but point out the awful smell. Michael replied, “Oh yeah… I farted. Just kidding…that’s the marsh. It always smells like that. You’ll get used to it.” Great… this sounds wonderful. “But if you look that way, you can see the bridge.” Super cheesy, I know, but it was a good moment.

 Abbie and her brother Michael

Abbie and her brother Michael

We spent the week doing touristy Charleston things. We took a carriage ride through downtown. We took a ferry ride out to Ft. Sumter. We went to a Charleston Riverdogs game. We went to the beach on Sullivan’s Island. We took lawn chairs out one night and just sat on the Battery. We bought a book, waited until dark, and did a self-guided ghost tour of the city. I had so much fun exploring the city and just being friends with my brother.  

Then it came time to leave… I was dreading this. I just had one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life and now I was going back home. Not ideal. He hugged me goodbye and I started crying. I couldn’t let go. I fell in love with the smells (except for the marsh), the trees, the food, the activities, the lifestyle, and charm of this town. I decided right then and there that I would get to call Charleston home one day, too. 

As I was preparing this letter, I realized that we didn’t take any pictures of us that week for our mother. I’m sure that made her mad. But since that trip, I have made countless visits and spent some more memorable days with my brother and his growing group of friends and I have made sure to take a picture every time. Many more July 4ths, birthdays, Spring Breaks, holidays, and even a wedding have been great excuses to go back to my favorite city. 

 Abbie with her dog-niece Dori

Abbie with her dog-niece Dori

Fast forward 6 years:

Michael is married to beautiful Janeen, they have two dogs and the most thought-out, perfect garden you could dream of. I have been teaching kindergarten in northern Virginia for 3 years and I’m ready to make a change. I finally decided that it’s time. I’m moving in a week and a half. It’s really happening. Closing on a condo today (thanks Emily!) and nailed down a job at Memminger Elementary teaching 1st grade.  Pieces are falling into place for my new life that I’ve wanted for so long. This is about my love for the South and my love for this city, but mostly about my love for my family. I can’t wait to see how this new life plays out. 

 Abbie, Janeen. and Michael

Abbie, Janeen. and Michael

A Love Letter from CeCe Mikell

CeCe:

Every Monday morning, I deliver an East Cooper Meals on Wheels hot lunch to thirteen people who have lived and have lived in Mt. Pleasant, SC longer than I have. That’s saying a lot since I’m a born and raised native of Mt. Pleasant for nearly 42 years.

Late last month, I stopped to talk for a while with one of the children/caregivers of a recipient, and in our conversation, he asked me what I think of how Mt. Pleasant has changed since we were kids who went to the same (old) Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School on Rifle Range Road at Myrick Road, (old) Laing Middle School on Highway 17 N at Six Mile Road, and (old) Wando High School on Mathis Ferry Road.

For context, here’s a glimpse of the Mt. Pleasant I knew as a child and teenager:

  • The stoplight at Bowman Road and Highway 17 was the last stoplight before you got to Georgetown.
  • East Cooper Family Practice (now Roper St. Francis Physician Partners on Wingo Way) functioned as the emergency room because there was no hospital at all on our side of the bridge.
  • Boone Hall Farm was just another farm to drive by on the way from Mt. Pleasant to Georgetown or Myrtle Beach. 
  • Rifle Range Road was a simple 2-lane back road with no stoplights or even stop signs and was the local drag strip for daredevils on Friday and Saturday nights. The now traffic circle at Porchers (pronounced poor-shay) Bluff was all dirt and gravel and was better known as Dead Man’s Curve.

Do I miss the much smaller town that could boast these memories? Of course, I do – in the same way I miss nap time in kindergarten, recess in elementary school, and the days when my folks footed my clothing bill before school started. Just as I grew up, so did my small town, and in some amazing ways: 

  • The stoplight at Bowman has been replaced by a 4-lane flyover, reducing the number of stops during rush hour. That allows the nearly double the population to get home to kids, evening activities, churches, and beaches more quickly, enjoying more of life in a still-small town with ever more engaging life activities to choose.
  • Our side of the bridge has gone from zero hospitals to having three hospitals, with East Cooper Medical Center exclusively dedicated to our East Cooper/Mt. Pleasant community. Improved medical care means that we who live in Mt. Pleasant get to enjoy it more and longer.
  • Boone Hall Farm has grown into a huge, year-round local produce provider through community supported agriculture along with its farm stand and farm store. Its leading support from the community played a large role in the establishment and growth of the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market located at Moultrie Middle School.
  • Rifle Range Road has opened up to new schools serving both existing and new neighborhoods, and our East Cooper Moultrie District #2 Schools are top in the Lowcountry and among the best in the state.

It's easy to complain about the increase in traffic and paved roads, the loss of wooded land, the number of people who simply weren’t here when the first Wal-mart (now Pivotal Fitness) was built for our small community. These are some of the reasons Mt. Pleasant has earned the nicknames “Mt. Plastic” and Mt. Perfect.” The thing is, that’s not their fault. 

It’s our responsibility – we natives and decades-long residents – to cherish and continually share the evolution of our East Cooper Mt. Pleasant community with those who choose now to make it their home. While new residents can’t share in an experienced history, we can all shape our wonderful still-small town together.

Bio:
CeCe Mikell is a 41-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, SC. She is best known as a writer, teacher, singer, and home cook. After a successful career as a college professor in New York, CeCe returned to Mt. Pleasant to care for her family. Today she is a consultant with Armstrong Consulting, specializing in project management, business start-ups, and non-profit initiatives. Follow CeCe’s cooking, singing, and every day adventures on her blog SingingAboutCooking.com. 

A Love Letter from Ashley Galloway Thomas

Ashley:

I moved here in the Summer of 2014 with my then boyfriend (now husband-woot!) David, a Charleston native.  We had zero job prospects and a small amount of money to ride out an unknown length of unemployment. Some people thought we were foolish to move to a new city on these circumstances but to us, it just felt right. We were living in Peoria, IL at the time and were ready for a change (and some warmer weather). Charleston seemed like a no-brainer for us. We had a lot friends there, it’s full of amazing food and we’re total porch dogs. What more could we want? Two of our good friends let us stay in their attic apartment for a few months until we could land some jobs and find a place of our own. Which we did. And the rest is history.

Charleston has been and continues to be a beautiful place to live. Here are my top four reasons why I love living here.  

There’s a Strong Local Movement Here

In addition to the many local/family owned restaurants in the area, there are over 80 local farms here in the Lowcountry, many of which participate in a CSA program. Subscribing to a CSA helps keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce, something near and dear to my heart as a Registered Dietitian. The healthier your environment is, the healthier you will be. Plus, it encourages variety in your diet which is a hallmark of nutritious eating. Love a good farmers market? We’ve got five; downtown, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island and Boone Hall. Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local farmers and purveyors. The Lowcountry’s use of family owned local farms removes the dependence on 'big agriculture' which causes enormous environmental implications and does not support a sustainable food system, something that our growing population depends on. 

The Lowcountry Landscapes & Views Never Get Old

From sunsets to enormous oak trees to marshes, the Lowcountry is not lacking in the unique landscape department. Some enjoy the sunrise from the connector or the Ravenel bridge on the way to work. Others may watch a vibrant sunset on one of Charleston’s beaches, or over a drink on the dock at Shem Creek. There are several rooftop locations as well that give amazing views of the city. As for our dog Kiki, she prefers the warm and grassy marshland; she says the pluff mud is good for her skin. While the Angel Oak is a stunning and iconic tree of the Lowcountry, massive oak trees are all over this city, beautifully lining the streets of neighborhoods and parks, creating a canopy of oaks. And let’s not forget the beauty on the outskirts of Charleston like Boneyard Beach on Capers Island. We love to Kayak out and camp on Capers; it makes a great weekend getaway. 

 Shem Creek sunset

Shem Creek sunset

 Angel Oak tree

Angel Oak tree

 Kiki enjoying the marsh

Kiki enjoying the marsh

Edmund’s Oast

The Charleston food scene is insane and there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. But this one is my favorite. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the beer selection, it stole my heart at first visit. The menu boasts seasonal and local ingredients, always keeping you on your toes with something new. I always try something new when I go and have never - I repeat, never - been disappointed. This is rare and probably why I like Edmund’s Oast so much. If you like watching the chefs prepare your meal you can sit inside at the Chef’s Counter which places you front and center of the open kitchen. Or if you feel like enjoying the beautiful lowcountry weather, sit outside at a community table and get some fresh air. And lastly, the beer. Edmund’s is one of the few brewery based restaurants in the Lowcountry and has 40 beers on tap at a time. My favorite Edmund’s beers are Circe and Farrago. And you gotta try the Peanut Butter & Jelly beer just once. They also feature guest taps from local brewers and the most recent was a phenomenal Belgian Golden Ale brewed with beets. Yep, beets. Beautiful color and earthy flavor.  

 A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

I Can Commute by Bike

Why live downtown and not bike everywhere? This is a major perk for David and I since we both work at the College of Charleston. It takes us 15 minutes to get to work and we don’t have to sit in traffic or stress out about finding parking. When it rains we wear ponchos/rain jackets and when it’s 120 degrees outside we bring a change of clothes. We bike to friends houses, restaurants, bars, the farmer’s market and the Music Farm. The only thing we need now is a bike trailer to tote our groceries from the Harris Teeter :) And with all the hard work Charleston Moves is doing, we look forward to seeing other parts of Charleston become more bike friendly.  

 Biking through the seasons

Biking through the seasons

Bio:

Ashley Thomas is a Registered Dietitian at the College of Charleston, teaches the Nutrition and Dental Health graduate course at MUSC, and writes her own food and nutrition blog, The Fresh Beet. She and her husband David Thomas live downtown with their spoiled fur baby, Kiki.  In her free time, Ashley can be found brushing up on her pottery skills, doing yoga and spending time with friends in the lovely Lowcountry. 

A Love Letter for Tater Burney-Wicke

David Wicke:

This past weekend, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends and beloved family member.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

I met Tater "Buzz" Burney-Wicke over 4 years ago when Angela and I began our relationship.  I had set my jacket down on the couch and Tater hopped up, laid down in it and promptly went to sleep.  Normally, very territorial, Angela was surprised Tater was so comfortable with my presence.  Never once did he snap at me.  He was always tolerant of guests after some initial barking and sniffs, but he instantly liked me and would nuzzle up to me.  The affection was mutual.  Angela once told me that Tater was a major factor in deciding to be with me.  If Tater didn't like me, then I just wasn't good enough. She also told me that she thought I married her to be closer to Tater.  I'm a lucky man that the both of them decided to keep me.  

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Over the years, we went on many travels.  He would hike with us on Hunting Island, comb the beaches on Dewee's Island and Folly Beach, and James Island County Park.  He loved walking through Hampton Park and Downtown Charleston and especially around our neighborhood in Riverland Terrace.  We would take him to visit Angela's parents in North Carolina and my parents in Goose Creek.  He wasn't the quickest dog to walk with, though. Every ten feet, he had to mark his territory.  Tater would turn a 10-minute walk into an hour., but it was worth it to see his happy little tail wag back and forth.

 Tater at his Riverland Terrace homestead

Tater at his Riverland Terrace homestead

For a man who loves the water so much, I was a little disappointed that Tater wasn't a water dog but, I think I understand.  Tater was so fiercely loyal and protective, he would literally drown himself trying to rescue you from the water.  Bath time wasn't his favorite, either, but he loved to be chased afterward.

 Angela and Tater on Dewees Island

Angela and Tater on Dewees Island

We would often fall asleep and take naps together on the couch.  Sometimes, he would sleep next to my face and let one rip.  Oh so polite, that little guy.  He loved being chased throughout the house ending with belly rubs.  Sometimes, we would search the house for him only to find him curled up in our laundry.  If we ever had to leave him at a family or friend's house, we would leave one of my recently worn shirts in his bed.  He felt more comfortable that way.

Tater was a very punctual dog, too.  Each morning at 7, he would let us know it was time to get up.  At 4pm, he would be by the door, letting Angela know that I was on the way home.  At 5pm, I would come home and he would be under foot, ready to greet me. 6pm was dinner time and at 9pm, it was back to bed.  And if we didn't go to bed? He would get up every few minutes to let us know, "It's bedtime!".

Sometimes, if he was sick or scared, I would stay up all night with him, even on a work night.  I was never angry, I only wanted him to be comforted.  It worked both ways, too. He was there to comfort me on my not so great days.

In the past year, things took a turn.  Tater's heart was failing.  It was becoming too big for his body.  It's called dilated cardiomyopathy.  Pushing against his trachea, he struggled for breath sometimes.  Eventually, it became a chronic cough because it was the only way he could breath, if he became too excited (which was always around me).  It was hard, but he was still happy.  We could still walk through the neighborhood and I could still chase him around the house.

With this past year, we added another member to our family, little Ruby.  While Tater was never playful with Ruby, he didn't mind her either.  And Ruby was enraptured with Tater.  She wanted nothing more to pet Tater, her older "brother".  Some days, he would actually let her.  As she began to learn how to crawl, Tater would always stay just out of reach.  Now, Ruby can race along pretty well.  I think she learned faster than normal with Tater motivating her.  I'd also like to think that his heart got so big because it was so full of love for our family.

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This weekend, Tater lost his appetite.  It was surprising because he was always a big fan of my cooking.  Soon, he couldn't walk for very long.  We took him to the emergency vet.  It was a whirlwind of bad news.  We could tell he was in pain and exhausted at this point.  So, Angela and I made the decision to make his last moments as comfortable as possible with the family he loved so much.  With Tater in both Angela's and my hands, we had to say goodbye to our dear family member, our "son".  Four years was not enough for me and fifteen years was not enough for Angela.

I tell you Tater's story, not because I want you to be sad, but because I want you to know the love we knew by being Tater's family.  It may seem ridiculous to those of you without a pet, but knowing Tater's unconditional love is important.  Even as my keyboard is dotted with tears of sorrow and joy, I want you to feel at least a little of that love.

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We're coming up on the holidays which is a special time of year that we spend with family, friends and loved ones.  So here are a few tips for those of you who will be around your four-legged friends:

- Beware of poultry and pork bones as treats.  They can splinter, become sharp and damage the esophagus, stomach and intestines of your animals.  Cooked beef bones are best.

- During celebrations, loud noises and bright lights can frighten your animals.  Make sure you keep track of them during the use of fireworks and such.  More dogs get lost during 4th of July and New Year's than any other time of year.

- If you are planning on getting a pet for your family this holiday season, check out the local shelters, first.  There are a lot of wonderful animals waiting to be loved and join you for your adventures in the next decade plus.

Thank you for listening to my story.  Thank you Tater for being such a fierce warrior, loyal companion and loving brother.  Thank you for being my "son" and thank you for teaching me how to be a good dad!

See You Later Tater!

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A Love Letter from Emily White

Emily White:

Dear Lowcountry,

You have raised me. I was born in July of 2000 at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, and from there I was brought home to James Island. I was the first child my parents had, and it remained that way for another two years, until my brother was born. We all lived together in a cozy home that I don’t remember much of, except that there was a koi pond, sunflowers, and big trees. We remained there for the next four years, until my parents decided to move to Mount Pleasant. The following years, I was signed up for numerous sports and attended many city coordinated activities with my family. We were never bored.

 Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

Hurricane Irene, 2011, with my brother, Louis

This past summer, for the first time, I went West Coast. West Coast, Best Coast was a saying I had heard many times, and before my trip, I believed it to be true. We drove all along the California coast, and it being the dead of summer, we stopped at more than a few beaches, and to put it candidly, they didn’t meet my expectations. The beaches could not compare to the ones I had back home. I desperately missed Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach, where you were guaranteed water at the perfect temperature, and beaches that weren’t too crowded (especially if you went to the right spot during the right time). Another thing I frequently missed when traveling was our famous Charleston sunsets. I have never traveled anywhere where the sunset was as beautiful and colorful as it is in Charleston, South Carolina. My family’s go to spots to witness this Lowcountry treasure are the Pitt Street Bridge, and the Waterfront Park Pier, but our own backyard also serves the sight justice. 

 My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

My family's addition to the Charleston Strong wall, downtown

One of the other many things that I love about my home is the opportunity it has given me. I am able to go to one of the best high schools in the nation, hang out downtown with my friends, play Ultimate Frisbee with my parents, and run the Ravenel Bridge whenever I want (something 40,000 people from all over the country come to do once a year). And, if the rare feeling of boredom comes about, you can guarantee that a city activity is happening.

 My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

My family, exploring Botany Bay, earlier this year

Today, I begin my junior year of high school, so the topic of college keeps working its way into the conversations I have with relatives, advisors, and friends. I was born and bred in the Lowcountry and I carry that with me everywhere I go. I’m excited to make my own way, but I also dread the day I may have to say goodbye to the only home I have ever known. Regardless, I know with full confidence that the Lowcountry will always be part of me. For now I am enjoying the next two years under my parent's roof and care in this wonderful city. I am also enjoying the beaches, the sunsets, the weather, and the people whom are unlike any other that I will ever experience anywhere else.

Love,
Emily 

Bio (By Emily Gildea):
Emily lives in Mt. Pleasant with her parents, Eric and Meredith, and her two siblings, Lewis and Molly. Today, she starts her junior year of Academic Magnet High School with her brother starting as a freshman. Emily is an active community volunteer and wrote this letter without any coaxing from a parental unit. I personally connect to Emily through our shared namesake and height advantages.

A Love Letter from Kristen Cobb

Kristen:

In May 2008, my then boyfriend (now my ride or die, hubby, Walker) and I graduated from the fabulous, beautiful College of Charleston and packed up his 1997 Tacoma truck with a suitcase full of clothes, climbing and Ultimate Frisbee gear and our 2 fur babies to head out West. Charleston had been good to us, but we had the itch for travel and adventures. Little did we know how this big adventure would drastically change our lives. After 3 months of living the dream of climbing, playing Ultimate every day, and hiking I had this feeling that I needed to take a test to determine our next move. This test: First Response. And as soon as those two little lines appeared, our lives were positively changed forever. Two, wild at heart, hippies, that couldn't seem to keep a plant alive for more than 2 days, were going to be parents. Excuse me, what? Now instead of deciding of what sick, new mountain to climb or what Ultimate tournament to go to we had to decide on the best place to raise our “Cobblet” (as we came to call her); Boulder or Charleston. It did not take more than 10 minutes before we looked at each other and said in unison, "Charleston". Walker's mom and our amazing college friends lived in Charleston and my family was only 3 hours away in Charlotte. Growing up, we both loved the idea of living at the beach. Fast forward 8 years, with another beautiful Cobblet added to our line-up, and hundreds of life experiences under our belt, we know we made the right decision. Charleston is simply the best place to start and raise a family. Not only is it a beautiful place to live, but this city is more than that, it is a community that loves and supports each other. 

 Walker and Kristen, being fancy at a wedding last year

Walker and Kristen, being fancy at a wedding last year

Our Cobblets, 2 beautiful girls, Brooklyn (7) and Hadley (almost 6), are perhaps the luckiest and most loved children in Charleston, better yet, the world. My girls have the best family and extended family one could ask for (Charleston Ultimate Frisbee community). Not only do these girls have an awesome support system but they live in a city with a different beach to choose from every weekend day and endless activities to keep their minds growing. Some of our favorites:

These girls have not 1, but 3 beaches within 15 miles of their backyard. Our favorite beach is Sullivan's Island. Sullivan's Island is also where Walker and I said “I do” in front of mating dolphins (sound clip here), family, and friends. Perhaps our favorite part of Sullivan’s is Station 30. This is where my girls first felt sand in their toes, got taken out by their first wave, picked up jellyfish, and practiced their swimming.

 Babies at the beach

Babies at the beach

 Cobblets after a day on Sullivan's Island

Cobblets after a day on Sullivan's Island

Aside from the beaches, Charleston has many museums, plantations, parks and tours to educate and entertain your children. From Magnolia Plantation to Charlestowne Landing to McLeod Plantation to the Charleston Museum to the Yorktown to Fort Moultrie and many more. Our family favorites include but are not limited to Boone Hall Plantation, Waterfront Park, and the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry.

Boone Hall Plantation offers many fun activities throughout the year. Our favorites are the Lowcountry Oyster Roast, strawberry festival and the Pumpkin Patch/Fright Nights. The Strawberry Festival and the Pumpkin Patch offer so many activities from trail rides, 3-story slides, jump pillows, petting zoos, local foods to try, and so much more.

Waterfront Park is nestled right under the Ravenel Bridge with beautiful views of downtown, the Yorktown and water. Besides having a great playground there is a huge field for families to have picnics, throw a frisbee, or kick a soccer ball. The park also offers a pier for fishing, sitting on porch swings, a monument to our Veterans in the Lowcountry, and a shop where you can buy souvenirs, sandwiches and most importantly it has soft-serve ice cream, a Cobblet favorite.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a non-profit organization in the heart of downtown and offers a wide range of creative things for children of all ages to get in to, even babies. For the first couple of years of my girls life, we spent many days there hanging with friends learning and exploring our imaginations. And during the summers when school is out, the Children’s Museum offers a great summer camp for kids ages 3-10 from Jedi Training to Iron Chef to Harry Potter and so much more!

 A young, Brooklyn, at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

A young, Brooklyn, at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

Making that decision in 2008 to move back to Charleston turned out to be the best idea we ever had and probably the best thing we could have done for our girls. The Cobblets are growing into curious, caring, active, supportive, and driven individuals and we have to say that along with our parenting and framily (friends + family), the Charleston community has had a big impact and we are so thankful.

 

Bio (by Emily):
Kristen lives in Mt. Pleasant with her husband, Walker, the Cobblets, and their fur baby, BoBerry (like the biscuit). This month, she is graduating Magna Cum Laude from the MUSC Accelerated Program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Just last week, she passed her boards. In her free time, she can be found playing Ultimate Frisbee or completing a marathon or triathlon.

 Kristen and friends at a Triathlon 

Kristen and friends at a Triathlon 

A Love Letter from Dawn Visceglia

Dawn:

From my first visit in spring of 2003 and each and every day, I am amazed by my continuously growing love and excitement about the Lowcountry. For a new spin on Lowcountry Love Letters, I am not going to focus on what to see and do, but rather I’ll focus on moments that make me smile in the form of a top 10 list.

10. Referring to this place as “Vacation-land” and having others instantly understand why.

9. Walking by the ornamental concrete dogs and pigs flanking home entrances on the Battery, all decked out for the various holidays. 

 The fanciest ornamental pig you'll ever see

The fanciest ornamental pig you'll ever see

8. Seeing the Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks in Hampton Park.

 Taking a walk through the oaks in Hampton Park

Taking a walk through the oaks in Hampton Park

7. Directing lost tourists downtown and having them be surprised people are so “helpful and friendly.”

6. Attending a show or concert in the Dock Street Theatre and thinking about all the performances and audiences that have been there before me.

 Waiting for a show to begin at the Dock Street Theatre

Waiting for a show to begin at the Dock Street Theatre

5. Watching fireworks from "The Joe" (Riverdogs stadium) whether you’re at the game or down the road.

 Dawn and Emily before fireworks at ''The Joe'' with the Joe Riley

Dawn and Emily before fireworks at ''The Joe'' with the Joe Riley

4. Crossing the James Island Connector into town, seeing the city, and again realizing, “I live here.”

3. Sitting on a rooftop, any rooftop and taking in the view. Ok, really, it’s about sitting outside taking in the view, regardless of the altitude.

2. Finding a new “go-to” restaurant or bar or going to one already in your personal rotation.

1. Planning what activities to do as there’s always something going on in the Lowcountry including cultural, sporting, arts, music, and farmer’s markets.

 Another colorful day at the downtown Farmer's Market

Another colorful day at the downtown Farmer's Market

The Lowcountry offers so much. What would you add to this top ten?

Bio (by Emily):
Dawn lives in Downtown Charleston with her husband Peter and their two dogs, Atlas and Monza (yes, she's named after the restaurant on King). Dawn enjoys her time in the Lowcountry, along with various travels throughout this country and others. Her next adventure is to Slovakia. Dawn is a Senior Technology Project Manager. She formerly served on the Charleston Friends of the Library Board of Directors as President and is active with the Center for Women. Emily first learned the term 'vacation-land' from Dawn approximately 6 years ago.

A Love Letter from Mackenzie Foster

Mackenzie:

“Why would anyone want to leave this wonderful city?” is a question I hear frequently from visiting friends and family.  They are always in awe of the warm sunshine, the diverse restaurant scene, and the abundance of things to do. While I don’t have good answer to their question, I can say that I was one of the ones who left. After four years at the College of Charleston, studying for midterms, lying on the grass at Marion Square, countless hours at the beach, and playing Ultimate Frisbee outdoors all year round, I graduated, packed up, and moved to Chicago. Cold, snowy, eight-months-of-winter, Chicago. My five years in the Windy City were filled new experiences, lots of fun, and many lessons learned, but I do have to admit that moving back to Charleston was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Luckily, the Lowcountry welcomed me back with open arms. My departure and return enabled me to see the Lowcountry in a whole new “rose colored glasses” kind of light. While sitting down to write this post I made a list of all the things that I love about the Lowcountry and what makes it unique (it was a little extensive…). There were many topics that have already been mentioned on Lowcountry Love Letters (including some of my faves- the beauty of brunch, the growing craft brewery scene, and of course the beach) so I narrowed my list to three.

1) People

There is nothing comparable to the people you meet in the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” motto is spot on. Upon my return, I immediately appreciated the warm feeling of walking down the street and having complete strangers smile and say hello. While the rest of the country sometimes thinks this is strange, here Southern kindness reigns. I was very impressed by my neighbors who are always willing to lend a helping hand, my coworkers who understand that family comes first, and my friends who are always there when I need them. I get laughed at from my Chicago friends when I tell them I am baking a pie or a casserole to bring to a friend or that a friend is cooking me dinner, but this is just the way people in the Lowcountry treat each other.

Our annual Charleston family Easter took place yesterday, where of course, Mackenzie brought two grits dishes.

2) Pace

When I first moved to Chicago, I worked with a group of individuals from New York who were opening a Broadway musical in the Windy City. I was in the throws of learning the lifestyle differences between what I have always known and what I would need to quickly pick up. One instance stuck out in particular; while driving with a coworker, I was informed that my driving style could be described as “moseying” (he was a little terrified of the defensive drivers). While at the time I was extremely offended, I have now learned to appreciate the notion of “stopping to smell the roses”. Most of those that I have met upon my return to the Lowcountry have perfected the art of a work-life balance. They understand the beauty of sitting on the porch with a cold beverage, watching the world go by, or taking a long slow stroll down the beach while catching up with a friend.  In a city filled with such beauty, it seems as though the inhabitants ensure that they take in and appreciate all that the Lowcountry has to offer.

3) Culture
As someone who has a background in theatre and the arts, I understand the South is sometimes perceived as having limited options when it comes to the world of art. Luckily, Charleston does not follow suit. We have Spoleto Festival USA, (which is coming up quickly!) offering seventeen days of world-renowned artists who come in from all over the globe to present dance, theatre, opera, and music.  We have the French Quarter Art Walk happening four times a year, touring Broadway shows coming through the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (Phantom of the Opera going on now!), contemporary art centers like Redux and The Halsey Institute, Reggae Nights Summer concerts, improv at Theatre 99, dance projects like DanceFX, concerts at the Charleston Music Hall or the Music Farm and the list continues. There is always something new and fun to experience.

Bio (by Emily):
Mackenzie lives in Mt. Pleasant with her diva cat, Lucille. She spends her days running the world of set design and production for various projects that include Spoleto, President Obama's visit last year, Darius Rucker's surprise CMT concert on the Isle of Palms and more. Her evenings and weekends are filled with outdoor adventures, glorious first sips of champagne, and bad television with her best girlfriends.

Looking Back on a Year Well-Lived

2015 has been a big year for both of us!  We launched this blog, both left established careers to pursue real estate full-time, and celebrated momentous life events; including wedding anniversaries, international travels, and the announcement of a little one on the way. With all of this, we decided to go back and offer updates from blog posts past. Scan through the images below to see our notables.

Have an idea for a great post? Email us and we'll be in touch shortly. We appreciate any and all feedback. You guys are a good part of the reason we've been so successful!

**With all of this great content in our archives, we've decided to scale our posts back to twice a month. Our next post will come out on January 18th.**

Lowcountry Love,
A & E


Letters of Gratitude - Our Personal Thanks

Today, we've decided to share our individual letters of gratitude. It has been a wild year for both of us, and as we wrap-up this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we thought, "what better blog this week, than our own personal letters to the Lowcountry for you; our supporters, followers, and fellow neighbors?". Thank you to each and every one of you for following our posts and supporting us! 

Emily:
This past Friday, as our flight landed at the Charleston airport after a few great days with family in New Orleans, I was overwhelmed with happiness to be home. While our adventures frequently take us all over the world, that are spectacular in their own right, I can’t seem to get enough of the Lowcountry. It's hard to beat sunsets, bridge walks, dinners at our favorite restaurant, or evenings in with Trevor and our dog, Miles. It doesn’t matter where we travel, we’re always inundated with questions about the Lowcountry. These are the three most recent and popular:

  1. What’s the temperature like this time of year? High of 70 today
  2. Do you have any plans for the holidays around town? Starlight yoga, annual favorite things party and cookie exchange party with my girlfriends, Lowcountry Libations holiday party at Frothy Beard Brewing, watching the downtown Christmas parade with my colleagues, and more
  3. How are the homes selling there? Here’s a market report, but I’ll give you a hint, they’re hot

These answers typically result in another question: When can we visit? Luckily, our home has an extra bedroom that stays pretty full (it should have its own calendar). In the past month, my best friend from my hometown and my dad and his wife have visited. So, while I may live 5 1/2 hours away from my hometown and some of my family (Hi, Everett's and Bowman's!), which is difficult during the holiday season, we are grateful to live in a place where people love to visit.

If you would have asked me six years ago where I would be today, I highly doubt my prediction would come anywhere close to where life has taken me. Though it’s come with the hardest day of my life, when I lost my mom a little less than 3 years ago. It’s also come with the best day of my life, when I married Trevor. Moving to the Lowcountry was the best decision for my life, at the time, that pointed me in the right direction. I spent 5 wonderful years working at a dedicated non-profit, my best friend moved here with her kids from our hometown, I started a new career with the support from an amazing company and colleagues, my dad moved an hour closer to be in Asheville, my husband's family is right around the corner, I have met the best people in our community and continue to meet more through this blog and other outlets, and I get to wake up every day with my husband and dog in our house we made a home. So, thank you Lowcountry. You’re everything I ever dreamed of and some of what I could have never conceived and for that, I am so incredibly THANKFUL.
 

 Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Angela:
What a year!  This ride called life has really started to speed up. I caught myself giving out unsolicited advice to a girlfriend in her 20s yesterday on how if I had known in my 20s how wonderful everything will work out in my 30s, I could have stressed a little less and enjoyed my earlier youth a little more (Mom, Dad, you were right). This year especially has been a 'year of change' for me.  I moved into a new full-time career, traveled extensively with my husband David, and together we decided to start a family. As I begin to move into this next exciting chapter in my life, I'm finding overwhelming support from places that I never expected. Neighbors, colleagues (from past and present), girlfriends, clients, and my new family gained through marriage, have made my support system here strong. Moving here five years ago and only knowing one person (Hi Kristen!) was one of the biggest leaps of faith that I had ever taken. Good news, so far all has turned out to be amazing and I give all credit to you Lowcountry, the friendly people that make your communities here great, and this beautiful environment that I enjoy daily. There is something truly spiritual about sipping coffee on my front porch swing (almost year round due to our very mild weather) and watching the sailboats float by.

I especially love showing properties and seeing the beautiful communities full of charm and character through my client's eyes. It's like my first day in the Lowcountry all over again. The "ohs" and "ahs" when I drive folks around Hampton Park, the twinkle that Sunset Park will bring to a first-timer's smile, the silence of approval experienced when eating your first Zia Taqueria taco or Moe's Crosstown Burger. All of these experiences are what make me truly grateful to call this place home.

Lowcountry, I feel that I should let you know that there are a few places where my life changed that will always hold a special place in my heart and connect us forever:

  • Folly Beach on 13th E. Street is where my husband loves to surf and where I have made a great group of friends who constantly show us support and love
  • O-Ku where (exactly three years ago) David and I met for our first date. It was followed by the most delicious homemade poptarts at The Belmont and ended with a kiss on the cheek goodbye in the Charleston Visitor's Center Parking Deck
  • Hampton Park where I walked my dog Tater for miles and miles daily contemplating life, if I was on the right path, if I was happy with the woman I was growing to be, and wondering if I would ever have a family of my own
  • Riverland Terrace where David and I have made a home and are preparing to fill it with love for a little one on the way

So, as we move into the hectic holiday season, I hope that we can all pause for a moment and take in the magic that exists within each of us and our community. Cheers to you Lowcountry! Today and everyday I pause to give THANKS to you.

 

 Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Lowcountry Beer is Here

The Lowcountry is certainly known for it's food, but have you heard about it's beer? Today's post is crafted (get it?) by my husband, Trevor, who among all of our friends, family, and co-workers is known to be incredibly enthusiastic about craft and homebrew beer.

Trevor:

Well, this is exciting. My wonderful wife Emily may tire of beer talk in our home or on our dog walks, but I’m in the driver’s seat now and man do I have a lot to share. Now, there’s nothing she can do, but proofread!

Beer is so popular in Charleston, it happens to have a whole week dedicated to the craft. Charleston Beer Week takes place every September, so mark your calendars for next year. Their team + sponsors put on a great group of events every year from beer dinners to tap takeovers to pairings to rare beer events to firkin fests. But, fret not, Charleston Beer is here - year round!

Below is a quick rundown of the Charleston area breweries. If you don’t already, FOLLOW EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM ON INSTAGRAM AND/OR FACEBOOK. It’s the best way to keep up to date on their offerings, events, and other fun stuff! 

Coast (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Nestled between Noisette Creek, Cooper River, and Park Circle. Hit them up for a pint after a round of disc golf 3 days a week and don’t forget they host Brewvival, a beer lover's tasting dream, held every February.


Holy City (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
A pub feel in an outdoor setting is open 7 days a week plus house brunch, lunch, and dinner. Bring the dog and relax with a pint or show up for one of their events like the 3rd Annual King of Pops Great Charleston Pop-Off or Bendy Brewski Yoga


Freehouse (Website, Facebook, InstagramTwitter)
Right around the corner from Holy City, Freehouse is tucked in on the Ashely River. Enjoy fresh beer, food trucks, and views from the deck or marshside 5 days a week.


Frothy Beard (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Known for their wacky beers and events, don’t wait till this nano hosts XTreme Pro Wrestling or Pop-Up Ramen. Head towards Ashley Phosphate now, where “great beards drink alike” 5 days a week.


Westbrook (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Off of Long Point Road, in Mt. Pleasant, their modern tasting room looks and feels shiny. Christophe Chocolatier and beer pairing events are sure to impress your special someone (this where I happened to take Emily for our first Valentine's Day).


Palmetto (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Just off the Ravenel Bridge on Huger Street, downtown, their recently redone tasting room is open 5 days a week and features Loading Dock concert + food truck every Friday night.


Revelry (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Just across the street from One Cool Blow, on Conroy Street, you can eyeball their fermenters up close or grab a seat outside. Food offered 7 days a week in house or via truck. 


Oak Road ( Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Serving the Flowertown area from Historic Downtown Summerville. Ogle at their home made 1 barrel brew system, catch some football (or futbol), and food trucks Thursday - Saturday.


Tradesman (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Representing James Island, they usually have 2 floors worth of beer enjoyment facilities, but the recent weather has decomissioned the 1st floor. Head up the side stairs 5 days a week for a "well built" pint.

If you like killing multiple birds with a single stone, check out Charleston Brews Cruise tours offered 5 days a week.

Don’t forget the brewpubs:
Southend (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Casual dining with the prettiest Lowcountry brewhouse, in my opinion. It’s vertical and encased in glass! Easily combined with a walk around Historic Charleston, including but not limited to Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, and the Battery.


Edmund's Oast (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Snag a reservation inside for an elevated food and beer experience. With good weather, grab a drink inside or out, plop down outside at communal tables, and enjoy the air.

Final Notes
Support our local brewers and if you dare, get inspired to brew your own! I’m a member of Lowcountry Libations and we welcome all brewers old and new. To get you started on your first batch (or 400th) check out Yeast Everything Homebrew Store and Beer Engineer Supply Store.

Lowcountry beer is here!

*Bonus*

Emily:

This week happens to mark one year of marriage for the two of us and I can say there's no one else is this world I'd rather stand side by side taste testing all of these local brews with than you, Trev.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Riverland Terrace

There are hundreds of neighborhoods in the Lowcountry area, but how do you know which is the right fit for you?  A truly unique characteristic of most neighborhoods in the Lowcountry, is their historical significance. This week, we focus on one neighborhood, a James Island community called Riverland Terrace.

Riverland Terrace started to develop in the 1920s and is James Island’s oldest neighborhood. The Terrace is located just a few minutes west of downtown Charleston along Wappoo Creek and the inland waterway. Neighborhood highlights include a public boat landing, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, a shaded playground, three city parks (Medway Park, Parkway Park, and Plymouth Park), and two ball fields.

Leading into the neighborhood is the historic Avenue of Oaks (recognized as one of SC’s most scenic roads), consisting of over 70 live oak trees believed to be over 100 years old. They once led to Wappoo Hall Plantation, owned by Lt. Col. George Lucas of the English Army and managed by his daughter Eliza Lucas Pinckney. She developed the indigo industry of the colony as a successful cash crop before the American Revolution. The plantation fronted the Stono River. Fort Pemberton, one of the largest confederate forts constructed in the defense of Charleston during the Civil War, was built in 1862 and remains today on the Stono River side of the community.

Photo Credit: @mecarr and @stonostories (stonostories.com)

The Terrace consists of approximately 800 homes. Sizes and prices vary greatly. Smaller homes of 900 square feet in the front of the community begin around $300,000 and vary all the way to 2 million plus for deep water lot homes in the back of the community. There is an active volunteer neighborhood association that meets three to four times each year. The neighborhood's 'Hometown Feel' is attributed to the association actively working to preserve the historical integrity of the community.

Around the corner from the residential community, you will find The Terrace Theater, several restaurants (which include: The Lot, How Art Thou Cafe, Crust, Zia Taqueria, Maybank Public House), multiple antique shops including the Terrace Oaks Antique Mall and A World Apart, two florists, and two spas (check out Charleston Medical Spa if you are ever in the neighborhood). In addition, if you enjoy exercising, you can join in one of the boot-camps that meet at Medway Park, or check out Studio Barre where men and margaritas are always free on Fridays. The community also hosts a Sunday Farmers Market and Sunday community yoga in the cooler months.  The neighborhood is in the process of building a community garden for all neighbors to access, this endeavor is sponsored in partner with the Charleston Parks Conservancy.

Photo Credit: @maybankpublichouse

The largest event of the year is Halloween Under the Oaks Trick or Treating. The community closes the streets to traffic and several neighbors turn their homes into scary haunted houses. It truly is a great time to be a part of the community.   If you’re ever in the area, feel free to park your car and walk the streets of the neighborhood. A volunteer community garden club keeps the neighborhood beautiful. There are multiple public swings and benches where you can rest and take in the scenery and the shade of the historic oaks not only keeps you cool, but makes you feel like you have entered a truly secret paradise.

*The Riverland Terrace Neighborhood Association (RTNA) is a not-for-profit volunteer neighborhood organization for those who live, work, or play within Riverland Terrace. RTNA is committed to promoting and protecting the beauty, safety, stability, cleanliness, and social and economic viability of the neighborhood by fostering alliances with the local residents, merchants, and government officials. RTNA seeks to represent community interests as a single voice.

**Facts throughout this article were from wikipedia.org/wiki/RIverland_Terrace

We'll be taking a break from the blog next Monday for Labor Day, but we've left you a bonus update under Local Loves.

A Love Letter from Michel Hammes

Dear Lowcountry,

I love your lowlands surrounded by tidal creeks and marshes. I grew up swimming endless hours in the creeks of Mt. Pleasant and searching for seashells at low tide on the beaches. Although I cannot purchase places similar to my childhood home, I found the perfect 1940's restored cottage in Park Circle, North Charleston. We can easily walk to the river, to the neighborhood park we all call "the Duck Pond" or bike to Riverfront Park. Often we make our way down E. Montague - our area's main street - to sit outside and drink a pint or order a pistachio pesto pizza from Evo Pizzeria. When we do drive, we are so close to everywhere- 15 minutes to downtown for a nice dinner and walk along the Battery, 20 minutes to the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island and 10 minutes to Charles Towne Landing State Park where you can see an array of wildlife and scenic views on your hike. And when we don't wish to venture far form home, we sit on the porch and visit with neighbors or watch birds and butterflies in our flower beds. Life is good in the Lowcountry. You will always be my home. 

With love,
Michel

Bio:
Michel Hammes is a professional book peddler and is happily married. She and her husband Cary Jones have two dogs and two cats tho Michel would like to have a yard full of cats and is very put out that her husband has not warmed to the idea. She is finally going to Botswana, Africa next year to see elephants, lions and hippos in the wild. If she gets eaten, she said to not be sad- it was a good way to go...although she hopes it is fast. 

 Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

 Michel and her husband Cary at the Park Circle Duck Pond

Michel and her husband Cary at the Park Circle Duck Pond

A Love Letter from Amy Romanczuk

Dear Lowcountry,

I came to you determined not to love you, those many years ago. I accompanied my parents on a visit to Charleston, where my father was a candidate for a prestigious position at the Medical University. They were wined, they were dined; I was thrown collectively to the wolves known as the children of the faculty entertaining my parents. At least, that's how I saw it. I was the girl from off, (and from a northern "off" at that), injected into the adolescent South of Broad social scene at the insistence of parents.  Sitting on the side piazza, the balmy night air was a far cry from the air back home, frigid with the coming of winter. I don't know whether it was the cadence of the talk around me, or the scents of unfamiliar blossoms and sea tinged air that recalled joyful vacation days, but my heart softened. As the gathering shifted to another home, I got a guided tour of a small corner of the city. The cobbled stones of Church Street and the little beach revealed by the Ashley River at low tide enchanted me, though I confess, I don't recall the name of the boy that walked with me. When we flew back to winter and my old life, the scents and sights of Charleston clung to me, and have never let go.

It was here I learned to lure a crab from the creek behind our home into the cooking pot, to cast a shrimp net, marvel at the moods of the wetlands that embrace the coast. Here, I learned that a palmetto is a thing of pride, and definitely not a palm tree; how to tell a white heron from an snowy egret, and what a joggling board is. I became a girl of the beaches: Folly, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms: each had a separate joy and beauty. I memorized which house along Murray Blvd you pointed the bow of a boat toward if you were crossing the Ashley by water from James Island to the peninsula. I learned that pluff mud can get on your clothes, between your toes, and its distinct smell in your nose, but also in your soul. I lingered in Shell House at Ashley Hall, with my friends, girls who became women I still delight in being with and cherish as friends. 

I left you, Lowcountry, for my studies at several universities and to travel the world, but when I decided to find a spot to call home as a young adult, out on my own, it was Charleston that again called me. I was welcomed back; the fathers of friends I knew in high school were now the physicians I worked with as I embarked on my nursing career. Their generosity giving supplies, medicines, and money to a small medical clinic in rural India where I spent a summer as a volunteer still warms my heart. And when I came back from that trip, and met the man of my dreams, I remember how several of these same physicians insisted on vetting him, since my own daddy had passed on.

Charleston was the city of our courtship and though I left you again to gather a graduate degree, we came back here to raise our family. Charleston embraced the return, and adopted daughter and the man from off, that she loved. We introduced our son to the beauties of Lowcountry living. His eyes would light up in wonder at the glory of the ACE basin from canoe, or the mysteries of Four Hole Swamp. Together, we would watch from the porch as thunderheads rolled across the sky, "better even than television", he once declared, and he was right. Our home in the historic district was our haven, a multigenerational family, for my mother came to live with us, and my siblings would tumble in for extended visits.

It was here that I found my stride as a pediatric clinical nurse specialist. When I developed an illness that nearly killed me, and forced me to give up my practice, it was in the arms of the Lowcountry, amidst the live oaks and wildlife, that I was able to find a balance.  Now in a stable health state, and able to be more active, I've tried to give back in the ways I can. My love of books and reading has lead me to volunteerism at school libraries, at Charleston Country Public Library, Charleston Library Society, Trident Literacy Association, and spreading free books via BookCrossing. I like to "live local" supporting the craftsmen and women of the Lowcountry. I've learned the names of the farmers whose bounty fills our bellies and the artists and artisans whose works grace our home, the coffee roasters and chefs whose establishments are the spots I take visitors to for refreshment. I have my favorite spots to show off on a tour of the city, some of which, like the Unitarian Church graveyard, I recently learned that our son, living now on the other coast, recommends to people he knows who visit Charleston. (Second generation pride makes me smile.) Here my heart dances and my soul sings, each to many different tunes and melodies, as different as a sassy salsa to a Mozart motet. As I move into another phase of life, as an artist, I even know the names of the hens whose eggs I use to create pysanky (Ukrainian style eggs). 

Ah Lowcountry, thank you.  Our romance has lasted nearly 45 years, and will go on until my last breath. You may not be the land of my birth, but you are the land of my heart.

Bio:
Amy Romanczuk is an artist and book aficionado living in Charleston, SC. She is self-taught pysanky artist of Ukrainian heritage. Several of her original design pysanky were accepted into the collection of Kolomyia Museum of Hutsul Folk Art (Kolomyiskyi muzei narodnoho mystetstva Hutsulshchyny), as representational from artists outside Ukraine. She has taken the designs and details of her craft into 2D art, using pysanky symbols in pen and inks, and paintings. She has been writing pysanky since 1996.

 Some of Amy's custom pysanky creations

Some of Amy's custom pysanky creations


A Love Letter from Stacey Lathem

My Dearest Lowcountry,

Thank you. Thank you for being a glorious backdrop to life. The smell of confederate jasmine and honeysuckle wafting in the spring make me feel like I live in paradise. Your spectacular sunsets, charming traditions, and loving people make me feel grateful on a daily basis. I often have moments where I genuinely think, “I live here?” and have to remind myself that I am not on vacation.

I am grateful for your beautiful parks where we spend warm days by the water and playing with our dogs. The quality moments of walking around the historic district and having Adam teach me about the architecture and history of the buildings he learned about in his historic preservation studies. Even the times in traffic when stuck behind a horse and carriage… how can you really be mad?

I realize I am especially lucky to get to live on the peninsula where I can bike to work, walk to my favorite restaurants, and be a part of the cultural growth of this great city. When I leave the peninsula I get to travel over bridges with fantastic views of marsh, harbor, sailboats, and container ships. My favorite is sharing a bucket of Coronas on the deck at Red’s Ice House, watching the dolphin, paddleboarders, and boats go by.

I love hearing when others move to town is that there is “always so much to do”. It’s true. Sometimes you exhaust me with your plethora of options: oyster roasts, fundraisers, movies in Marion Square, concerts in the park, Second Sundays on King, Farmers Markets, and more. Can I just get some sleep sometimes?!

Thank you for introducing me to the Ultimate Frisbee community and all the wonderful people who make exercising fun and give me a reason to see 50+ of my nearest and dearest each week.

Not to mention the Theatre 99 crew who literally make people laugh for a living. You mean to tell me on a Wednesday night I can see live improv theatre and drink a beer for less than $10? Seriously, where else?

Most of all, thank you for bringing Adam and I together. The lowcountry is where we have fallen in love, made our home, are renovating a house, and getting married. You provide the sites, sounds, and smells for the movie that is our life. We couldn’t be more grateful.

With love,
Stacey

Bio:
Stacey is a proud resident of the North Central neighborhood on the peninsula with her husband-to-be-this-week, Adam, two dogs, Bella and Diego, and diva cat, Julian. She came to Charleston in 2004 to attend the College of Charleston and never looked back. She likes to stay busy playing ultimate frisbee, performing at Theatre 99, project managing at BlueKey, Inc. Days off include long Hampton Park walks, trips to Revelry Brewing, and trying to make it to the beach.

 Stacey with her fur-children as captured by her fiance, Adam

Stacey with her fur-children as captured by her fiance, Adam