Monday, December 7, 2009
Getting In Touch With Nature
Ever had the urgent need to be devoured whole by an alligator? Always wanted to see the sun blotted out by a swarming cloud of mosquitoes? Ever desired to see oak trees almost as old as Abe Vigoda? If these wishes top your personal list, then journey south from Charleston a few miles down Highway 17 in the direction of Savannah, Georgia and you will run smack into the perfect place to live your dream, the Caw Caw Interpretative Center.
Stretching across one hundred plus acres in Ravenel, a bare mile from the South Carolina coast, the Center sits on land stolen from Native Americans and then used for the cultivation of rice. The black slaves brought here against their will to work the plantation enjoyed taking part in the Stono Rebellion, an uprising that came quite close to success. Although the slaves and natives have long moved on to heaven and their masters to an eternity of suffering in the lake of fire, their descendants can still take the opportunity to see the same mammals and birds that Uncle Tom and Simon Legree would have gazed upon in their bygone era had they not been purely fictional characters.
Nowadays Caw Caw is all about biology, zoology, and various other ologies, not about who killed/enslaved whom. The preserve presents a fascinating ecological melange, with forest land, swamp, fresh and salt water habitats all existing side by side. This diversity provides a tremendous abundance of wildlife as a result (in addition to the aforementioned mosquitoes and alligators) most of which are unlikely to hold your head in their maws or suck your human juice until your skin tone resemble that of an albino leaving a blood bank.
According to the official propaganda being put out by the Caw Caw people, (as if we could trust these whacked out tree-hugging hippies) there are at various times of year400 species of plants and over 250 different species of birds ready and waiting to be observed if you would just pay some attention for once. Magnificent large water fowl like the anhinga, egret, and heron are all easily spotted even by the untrained eye.
With eight different trails winding through the Interpretative Center, your paths are not confined to the paltry two options Robert Frost gave you in his limiting poem. If you have the requisite time, I recommend trying the Habitat Loop, a 3.6 mile trek running the entire gamut of habitats. If treading upon the earth has become tedious to you, Caw Caw also offers canoeing trips along the Center's waterways. Petting the water moccasins as you paddle by is not recommended. Campgrounds are also available on site if you dig smores and can't afford a decent hotel or even if you like the outdoors for some reason.
For those of you with kids, Caw Caw provides a distinct opportunity to teach them about South Carolina wildlife before it is driven into permanent extinction. The Center provides several programs to teach children about the local plants and birds, as well as a course on the exploitation of free black labor for the purpose of cultivating Carolina gold, or rice in the parlance of our time. Adults can participate in morning bird walks, which take place every Wednesday and Sunday at 8:30 A.M., a time of day which I had not known existed before reading their fabulous brochure.
Spring or fall are the best seasons to visit, as temperatures are much more palatable for humans and animals alike during this time of year. Those of you who have sweated out 2/3 of your water weight in an hour during a July day in Charleston will know what I am talking about. During the winter much of the insect life is dormant and the reptiles preserve their heat by doing as little as possible, kind of like Sunday at my house (as long as you don't consider yelling at a football game to be exercise). The animals like the weather the most in the spring and fall, so they come out to play more as a result during those times of year. Regardless of when you decide to make the trip, Caw Caw Interpretative Center has something for you. Unless you hate nature. You don't hate nature, do you?