by Augusta A. Bosone
Thomas Sumter Academy
The previous night was spent eagerly packing for the morning’s hour long drive to Lake Wateree. My family and I were traveling there for a weekend getaway, which we were graciously invited to by close friends. I packed light, but made sure to pack basic essentials for the weekend and variations in weather. The next morning, my family and I left on the peaceful journey to Lake Wateree. The opportunity to relax and enjoy the great outdoors at one of the prettiest spots in South Carolina laid ahead, but I was reminded of the natural beauty throughout the state, as I looked out the window on the drive out of my less than rural neighborhood in Sumter County. At the exit of our neighborhood, we saw pairs of Canada geese leading their offspring across a pond and safely crossing the road. The goslings followed the adult geese closely, and did their best to stay in straight lines. The newborns had light yellow feathers that appeared soft to the touch, dark gray beaks, and dark gray webbed feet.
With the reasonable weather in this part of South Carolina, Canada geese are a constant presence, yet I never grow tired of watching them, especially in the spring when their babies appear. On a bright day, you can spot the occasional, majestic blue heron or gorgeous white egret in our neighborhood, surveying the neighborhood, ponds, and beautiful walking bridge.
After a lovely drive through Camden, with its rich history and delightful, old homes, we arrived in Lake Wateree around noon, just as the sun was at its peak of warmth. As I stepped into a rustic cabin, I heard the creak of the floors and detected the smell of trees and water, which I imagined was teeming with fish. Shortly after unpacking my belongings, I met my friends to walk along the tranquil trails.
As we quietly wandered, I felt the warmth of the sun, which I could view through the foliage of the longleaf pine trees. The humidity was less obvious as I felt a cooler breeze coming across the lake. The prevalent sounds were of twigs cracking beneath our feet and a steady flow of the gentle wind, which occasionally gusted. I felt the wind brushing away my anxieties. Along the path, I observed tall, beautiful pine and cedar trees and their scents were familiar. In my silence, I heard the chirps of song birds, as they sat on their separate branches.
I heard woodpeckers poking at the bark in the trees. I looked around, trying to locate Lake Wateree’s natural wildlife. I had read that deer, fox, turkeys, and eagles make their home there, but did not get the chance to see them. However, squirrels were abundant, and hawks flew above the trees and over the lake.
We strolled toward the edge of the lake to relax. I took off my shoes and let my feet slowly sink into the inviting sand. I felt a sensation that I guessed was what walking on clouds would feel like. I had a sense of floating as though defying gravity. I moved through the sand towards the sparkling water. The closer I got to the water, the damper the sand. My feet slowly sank deeper. The wet sand over my feet felt like a weighted cotton blanket.
I could still walk, but I was slowly sinking further down and it became harder to walk. Eventually, the sand reached halfway up to my knees. I was at the water’s edge, and gazed as it slowly rippled across the lake. I could see a group of fishers in the distance, with their rods reaching endlessly into the stunning, blue lake. While fishing was not on my agenda that day, I wondered whether they were successful in obtaining dinner or if they preferred to catch and release. The ponds in my neighborhood, while frequented by neighbors fishing, are for entertainment only and fish must be released back once caught. I closed my eyes and thought of the fish swimming through the lake, their scales running through the streams. I felt the sand around my feet slowly getting tougher to squirm out of and was reminded of the power of nature, and while beautiful, we must respect its abilities and we must pay close attention to our outdoor surroundings. I gradually stepped out of the wet sand and took a walk down the shore of the lake.
As I strolled along the shore, I felt a cool breeze slowly running through my hair. It tickled my arms as it crawled along the surface of my skin. My emotions washed over me as I felt any lingering negativity leave my body. The wind blew feelings of positivity into my mind and heart. The soft sun warmed me just enough to not be freezing but not enough to make me sweat. I slowly looked around for some of the creatures that call Lake Wateree home like alligators and turtles, but instead I spotted a family favorite, lots of ducks.
I am a proud, military child and have lived in many locations, but South Carolina has the most beautiful country I have experienced and I look forward to seeking out more outdoor opportunities.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.