Don’t Forget Why They’re Here
By: Ashley L. Hamm
As published on January 27, 2012 by Eat Sleep Play Beaufort
I have lost count of how many times I’ve caught the downtown bridge.
I have lost count of how many times it has aggravated me to the point of turning my car around and going ‘the long way’.
One particular day while stopped at the bridge, I felt the same frustration but stopped myself. It felt more like springtime than the middle of winter, so I put my car in ‘park’, rolled down my window and took a good look around.
The sky was blue and cloudless. The sun danced on the river as if it were made of glass. As I watched the sailboat slowly make its way past, my small hometown began to transform into a vibrant living painting of Sea Island life, and with it came a refreshed understanding of what must lure so many visitors to Beaufort every year…
Beaufort is, undeniably, beautiful.
Imagine what we, as locals, must take for granted every day.
The breathtaking natural beauty; the Antebellum homes and landscaped gardens; the local and the military history, just to name a few things. The sunset at Lands End has got to be by far the most stunning I have ever seen, and I am perfectly happy to pause in the middle of a conversation when the ‘Sound of Freedom’ interrupts me.
As a native Beaufortonian, I’ve learned early on, the rich culture and history of this great, centuries-old town. I know the tranquility of the river. Our way of life here is pretty specific to the Lowcountry, from meeting friends at the day dock for an adventure, to the aforementioned getting ‘stuck’ at the downtown bridge and watching water traffic pass through, to searching for the Light at Lands End. (If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve tried it, or at least know someone who has)
During last summer’s Water Festival, I had a wonderful conversation with some tourists who didn’t want to follow the typical tourist-trek around Beaufort. They wanted to venture out on their own and see the sights that they found most appealing and not have a ‘brochure vacation’. As I began telling them about the Chapel of Ease, the Old Sheldon Church ruins, and Fort Fremont, (and on and on), I couldn’t help but smile at their enthusiasm as they gushed about the history and beauty of our area, and how lucky I am… to call Beaufort home.
I think of all the years I couldn’t wait to leave Beaufort, and when I finally did I missed it… and inevitably came back home.
Taking a moment to stop looking at Beaufort as a local and to start seeing it through the eyes of a visitor gives one a new, or refreshed, perspective on what it means to be a Beaufortonian.
Then, the next time you attempt to drive through a throng of tourists on Bay Street, you might just have a better understanding of why they’re all so excited, and why they’re so jealous that we get to call this ‘home’.