Cape Romain or Cape Fear?


As a textile artist I take a lot of photographs for reference purposes and sometimes even use them printed on fabric in my work. I really enjoy taking pictures and even bought a new digital camera last year which I am still learning how to use, however, I don’t really consider myself to be a photographer. That being said, I think this photo is one of the best I have ever taken, but I almost missed the opportunity. Here is the story.

107I love South Carolina, Charleston especially, and the last time I was there  I purchased a note card for a friend.  The front featured a stunning photograph of a tree rising from the ocean! I was so taken with the image that I asked the sales clerk where it was taken, then promptly forgot all about it. When I got home the cat managed to leave a few teeth marks on the edge of the card so it never got sent. The end. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to last week when I was serving as Artist in Residence at Poinsett State Park about 90 minutes from Charleston. I was having a great time, but it was so rainy that I spent at least two full days in my “studio” on the screened in porch attached to my cabin. Huge windows on three sides opened the space up to the woods in their full spring glory, but after two days inside I needed a change.

Deciding that a boat excursion into the Low Country might just be the ticket, I started a google search and low and behold, images very like the one on the card appeared on the Bulls Island Ferry site. I quickly checked the weather forecast and Saturday was predicted to be the only sunny day of the week with a high of 86 degrees. Perfect. I booked it.

The next day the forecast was changed to partially sunny and 80 degrees. It rained again all night Friday and I awoke to more rain at 6 AM Saturday morning. I was too afraid to look at the forecast again as I packed my lunch and gathered rain gear into my day pack. I really didn’t want to go but forced myself to get into the car. I did not want to lose my $40 deposit by not showing up, but I thought if I was extra pathetic and begged once I arrived, perhaps they would let me cancel due to the poor weather. Then I would treat myself to a smashing lunch in trendy Charleston instead.

It rained for two hours straight as I drove from my cabin to Awendaw, a little north of Charleston. I am always advocating for finding the courage to overcome fear, persevere, accept challenges and learn, but I tell you my courage was wavering as much as my windshield wipers during that rainy drive. Bulls Island is a barrier island and part of the Cape Romain Federal Nature Preserve, once a safe harbor for pirates. It is uninhabited, loaded with alligators, snakes, bobcat and a myriad of birds including Eagles and Osprey. At one time Red Wolves were re-introduced there, did they actually get all of them when they were moved to a sanctuary on the mainland? At the north end of the island lies Boneyard Beach where I was hoping to see trees “growing” in the sea.

Oh, how our minds always envision the worst possible outcome and play tricks on us, keeping us frozen in our same old way of being. All during that rainy journey I pictured myself all alone and lost on the windy, rainy, 5,000 acre island with no way back until the boat captain returned hours later to pick me up. Sounded dismal and scary in my imagination.

But miraculously, within 10 minutes of arrival at the dock it stopped raining, and although I was the first one to arrive, shortly thereafter about 35 other people showed up. In short, it was an amazing day and one I will never forget. Although I never saw another soul once we arrived, I took comfort in the fact that they were there. And most importantly, I captured the beauty of the place in this amazing image. Upon reflection, the photograph would have been much inferior with the bright sunlight originally forecast. So take courage me hardies and be amazing.