By Carey Sullivan for The Island Eye News
I often say, “Dewees is not for everyone.”
Dewees attracts a certain type of person. At the most basic level, it is someone who wants to live in harmony with nature. When you are on Dewees, the natural surroundings are what draw you in and stimulate every sense: there is smell, a feel, and yes even a taste to Dewees, but it is your eyes and ears that will be treated to a veritable smorgasbord of stimulations. This abundance and the lack of effort required to experience it, is what many Deweesians seek in order to find peace away from off-island life. It is all about balance, and no one seeks and provides balance more than Mother Nature.
The ocean, the waves, the marsh, the lake, the birds, the mammals and reptiles, the light (and at night the lack thereof), the trees, the flowers, the sea oats…you get the idea…all invite you to look and listen. The stories they are telling are mesmerizing. Like the Sirens who called to Odysseus, they are hard to ignore and even harder to leave. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dewees is addicting. It is also no coincidence that Dewees attracts artists and creative people.
The beauty of Dewees begs to be captured, expressed, and interpreted. As imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, our artists are Mother Nature’s teacher’s pets. Look no further than the pictures accompanying this article as Judy Drew Fairchild shares her vision of Dewees from behind the lens.
On Dewees, everything we do is comes back to our mantra, ‘living in harmony with nature.’ We build houses so that nature is preserved and protected. We need water, so a system was created that causes the least impact on the environment. We need infrastructure so we seek materials, systems, and maintenance that work with natural surroundings. Offisland, we are looking for ways to control nature, on-island we let nature chart the path, and we follow with tweaks for the modern sensibilities.
In order to keep track of what nature is busy creating, offering, or showing-off on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, we have a full-time naturalist, Lori Sheridan-Wilson. SheridanWilson has been a part of the Dewees community for 11 years. Her role is to design a program of keeping track of the natural community on the island and then provide the human community with education about what she has learned.
Since 2005, when I started to coming to Dewees, almost nothing has remained the same, and that is not a bad thing. The beach has changed, the marsh has changed, Lake Timacau has changed, the best fishing spots have changed, the balance of animals has changed. Nothing in nature remains static for long, and Sheridan-Wilson has a front row seat to the changing nature of Dewees.
For me, it is this certainty that things will change and that someone else is in charge, which allows me to completely unwind and unplug. Off-island, I am a control-freak. On island, I let Mother Nature be in charge and she puts on a heck of a show.
Carey Sullivan has been a part of the Dewees community since 2005. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and daughter and her son is a freshman at College of Charleston. Her main goal in life is to live full time on Dewees. Photographer Judy Drew Fairchild is a full time resident of the island, realtor, and South Carolina Master Naturalist.