Simple Lowcountry Living
I sat down to meet with Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer with a million things on my mind. It had been a stressful, busy and complicated, yet stunningly gorgeous, weekend that I had not taken advantage of at all. Wendy picked a charming restaurant on Bay Street, with a back porch that overlooked the broad and beautiful Beaufort River and Waterfront Park. As I watched the sun set over the water, and a family resting with each other next to the river bank, I felt my stress and anxiety melt away. Nature has a way of creating that stillness we long for, and reminding us of the simplicity of life that we most often overcomplicate. Wendy is one of the few who truly embraces the simplicity of nature, and has the passion and opportunity to be an example and educate others on the gift of Lowcountry living.
Wendy is a Lowcountry native, with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management from Clemson University. After having children, Wendy took a job as the Naturalist at Hunting Island, where she created programs to educate school children and visitors on the local nature. "My favorite lesson to teach was Barrier Island Ecology to the seventh grade. There are four distinct parts to the barrier-beach, salt marsh, sand dunes, and maritime forest-and they all continuously cycle to help each other survive. This is the way the human element and nature are to each other," said Wendy. "Man created the calendar, but God created seasons. We have to do our part to understand our impact on nature so we can be good stewards of God's creations. Many Naturalists are not spiritual, but I believe this world is too full of wonder and awe to be accidental."
Over the last few years, Wendy has realized a love for writing, and she has found a way to combine her talent with her passion for nature by writing books and articles about the Lowcountry. Her first published pieces were for Arcadia Books on Isle of Palms, followed by Port Royal. She now writes feature stories for Lowcountry Weekly, and is currently working on a book about Daufuskie Island. Wendy's knowledge of the Lowcountry did not stem from hours spent researching in front of a computer screen, but rather a lifetime of experiencing nature to the fullest outdoors, now with her two girls, Abbie and Julia. They are constantly outdoors in the boat with friends, hiking, exploring, paddle boarding, kayaking, building sandcastles, surfing, collecting shells, and anything else they can do to get their hands dirty. "It is so neat to listen to them because they actually understand what they're doing and use the correct terminology. For example, they will be building a sandcastle and Abbie will say, 'Go get a Lettered Olive' or 'We need to find Spartina Grass'", laughed Wendy. "I think it's important as a woman to teach kids how to get their hands dirty. My hands were dirty all the time, researching and practicing the programs that I was creating. It doesn't have to be dad that does it, it can be very feminine."
Another very feminine and admirable trait Wendy has is her ability to see the symbolism in the way nature relates to life. On New Year's Eve, she and her girls participated in the Pelican Plunge, which symbolized the cleansing of last year and the self-discipline of understanding that every new year is what you make of it. In addition, she has a favorite video of ten baby Loggerheads making their way to the ocean, where in the background she is educating the crowd, and in the foreground, Abbie and Julia are watching. To her, this symbolizes the beginning of an incredible journey for the Loggerheads, as well as the journey for her daughters. "I am so grateful to be where I am right now. I have been able to make it professionally doing something that combines my passions, and still have fun with my girls. Life should not be complicated. It is a simple formula of the circle of life."
Definition of a Naturalist: An individual who interprets the environment he or she lives in.
Abbie and Julia's accomplishment: They won the Hunting Island Sandcastle Building contest two years ago!
Advice: Be one with nature as soon as you can. There is a lot to do here, but we're all here for one reason, and that is the natural beauty that is all around us. If you can't connect with it right away, you'll never understand the real reason we're here. The Lowcountry is not a description of a geographic area, it is a state of mind, and a slower pace of life.
To read some of Wendy's writing: Visit www.wendypollitzer.com.