Dewees Books

Dewees Island Book Club Update: What’s on your nightstand?

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The last Dewees Island book club meeting was simply a “share the great titles you are reading” meeting.  We had a quick commiseration about finding time to read, and one member confessed that besides the last book club book, she was busy reading the Dewees Island Covenants and bylaws. You can comment in with your own recommendations, and I’ll get the links up on the page. Here’s a quick glance at the books that were recommended (click any photos or title to see more on Amazon):

Our next book club choice is Untamed, and we will meet at 5:30 pm on Thursday November 20th at Huyler House. BYOB and nibbles.

A History of Modern Britain: 1714 to the Present
Q & A: A Novel
Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, 5th Edition [2010]
Rent Collector
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival
Porcher’s Creek: Lives Between the Tides
Life After Life: A Novel
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
The Caiad
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel
The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel
Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet
Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island

Island Living

Dewees Naturalist Jonathan Lutz featured in Audubon Magazine

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Audubon Feature with border(1) (1)

Former Dewees Naturalist Jonathan Lutz turned up in the pages of Audubon Magazine this month.  The story focused on the changes Jonathan has made in Michigan, using his great marketing skills and and social media savvy to improve attendance at the Tawas Point Birding Festival.  Many island teens and families remember Jonathan fondly from his time here– summers of Dewees Camp created memories and left our island kids with a greater appreciation of the natural world around them.  We remember when he brought Gatsby home to the island as a puppy.  At least one of these kids has returned to the island to serve as a nature coach themselves.  Frank (summer intern of 2014) helped a new generation of kids learn about nature as an intern on Dewees.

Jonathan also has fond memories of his time on Dewees.  He says,

“Living on Dewees Island is a naturalist’s dream. Falling asleep to the sound of Whip-poor-wills, going for morning runs past roosting flocks of Wood Storks, and watching North Harriers soaring out my office window–my time on Dewees immersed me in the world of birds. Birding with the late Ed Conradi and hosting the Charleston Natural History Society (the local chapter of Audubon South Carolina) introduced me to bird appreciators of all varieties, including dedicated checklist-keepers. I have distinct memories of seeing my “lifer” Wilson’s Warbler, counting Ruddy Turnstones on the North End with Gatsby by my side, and admiring hundreds of Northern Gannets pushed close to shore by heavy fog. All of these experiences have inspired and helped me be successful in my current role as Michigan Audubon’s Executive Director. Dewees Island and its residents are mentioned often and with fondness in my interactions with colleagues and Audubon members throughout the Great Lakes State.”


As a fellow birder who also learned a lot from the early bird counts on the island, I hope Jonathan will come back for a birding visit soon!


In the meanwhile, click here for the full article at Audubon, or look at page 12 of this issue (Nov/Dec 2014 of Audubon Magazine.)

Island Living

Cool new way to Transport Flowers to the Island

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photo (74)Props to Captain Rick, who came up with a solution to the challenges of flower transport. When you bring a bouquet of flowers or potted orchid over to the island, it can be a challenge to move them without the wind tearing them apart. So Rick bought a tall trash can and labeled it for flower storage. We found it worked really well to get the flowers from the car to the house without the wind from the ferry or golf cart wreaking havoc. Pick it up on the dock side, borrow it, and return to the ferry.

Island Living

Dewees Island Book Club

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The Dewees Island Book Club is another example of what makes the community of Dewees unique and special.  It’s run by volunteers and meets at Huyler House, usually on a Thursday night.  Everyone is welcome: sometimes there are two or three generations in the room, and the group includes both men and women. Books are chosen in advance and proposed at the meetings, where one member volunteers to host and lead the discussion.  I have found the meetings fascinating, because I learn such interesting things about my neighbors and friends that don’t come up in casual conversation.  All ages and genders are welcome, and that certainly adds a richness to the discussion that you don’t find in some other book clubs.  The host arrives early and gets out wine glasses, and everyone brings their own beverages and a heavy appetizer to share.  The discussion leader prepares a few quick words of introduction to the book, or questions we want to pursue. Currently, the communications and scheduling are managed by Bubber McAlhany, and everyone on the island is welcome to participate. I asked Bubber about who was in charge of the book club, whether we stop during the summer months, and what he likes best about it, and here’s his answer:

It is under the auspices of our social committee and I took on the job of promoting it via announcements and trying to “cajole” folks into participating. We did stop last summer on the advice of participants but we do not have to as long as someone has a book suggestion and agrees to present it on a Thursday evening. What I like best is what I continually say, ” It encourages me to read books I may never have considered reading without our book club.”

Island resident Anne Saueracker agrees:

The Dewees Book Club provides very unique experiences.  The group shares values that bring them to Dewees Island, but no matter what book is discussed, it is apparent that the group also has a vast and distinct store of experiences, travels and ideas.  There is an endless curiosity that is evident in the non-judgmental sharing and discussion of these thoughts and stories, and at the end of the evening, we come away learning more about our neighbors, but more importantly we find new insights into ourselves.

The club indeed encourages me to read books I otherwise would never select on my own, and the discussion is always really educational!

The next meeting of the book club is May 22nd at 6:30 pm. The book is Children of the Wind, by Ed Sundt. Discussion led by Bob Drew.
If you really want to explore the subject, you can read any of the following (click link to the book at Amazon):

Thursday night (March 20) we met with author (and island owner) Jeffery Deal. The book is The Mark: A Novel of Dinka in the Time of War, and it’s a great read! Novelist Brett Lott describes it as “a harrowing and beautiful story of a young man in the Sudan, a Dinka tribesman set in the midst of unimaginable turmoil; it is genuinely frightening and genuinely revelatory.” Jeff’s experiences in South Sudan as an anthropologist and a physician have enabled him to write a book that transports you to Africa… don’t miss this! We will be meeting at Huyler House at 6:30.

Other recent books (click on any to read about them or order from Amazon):

Island Living

Property Owners Annual Meeting: Great times in bad weather

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dewees island poa property owners association In the coldest POA weekend we can remember, hardy souls braved the elements to turn out for a great meeting on the island.  We treasured a chance to spend time with neighbors from near and far, and conduct the business of the island: electing directors, learning about the progress of island projects, balancing budgets, etc.

Festivities began Friday afternoon with a hike through the conservation area, led by island Ecologist Lori Sheridan Wilson.  We got to see firsthand how the area is recovering with natural wetlands as a result of our tallow eradication program.  A pair of great horned owls was flushed from the roost and startled a roadside participant.  We then continued Friday night with a cocktail party at the community facilities at Huyler House, with spectacular flowers arranged by island owner Kathy Warren.  The evening is one of the only events of the year that is completely catered: all owners could relax and enjoy the night without worrying about the responsibilities of being the “host.” Winners of the fishing Rodeo were announced, with Dave McIntyre’s team taking the grand prize once again.  New owner Geraldine DeRooy Key got a kick out those of us in mittens for the evening, but appreciated the warmth of the community:

“It might have been cold by SC standards but it was 20 degrees and snowing in Montana! We feel very privileged to be a part of this community of people and the island sanctuary. We have called our new home, ” Heaven’s Door” and look forward to meeting all of you more personally on the beach or over a shared meal. Thank you for your warm welcome.”

On Saturday morning we began early with a presentation from the Dewees Utility Corporation. DUC Chair Pat Wilson explained the new single stream recycling program that we are piloting with Charleston County. Paul Conover explained some of the whys and hows of our state-of-the-art water treatment, and reiterated that the new system has been highly efficient, with none of the challenges that have faced other nearby islands in the face of all this recent rain.  One of the main water wells now has new pump and fittings, which has increased our water supply by 40 percent.  Paul also pointed out that when you hear an alarm sounding outside your house, the pump is trying to get your attention, and you should stop using water and call the Dewees Utility asap.  Edmund Frampton graciously agreed to serve another term on the board of the Utility and was elected to the position.

dewees island poaAfter a coffee break, we moved to the manager’s report, where we learned about the impoundment restoration progress, the new ferry, and our multitasking staff.  POA board Chair Dave McIntyre and Treasurer Bill Easterlin presented the financials, and we proceded with elections.  Dwight Plemmons, Faith Schwaibold, and Larry McDevitt are now members of the board (Faith is returning for a second term) and we thank them for their willingness to serve.  (We also thank outgoing board members Dick Robinson and Alex Kliros for their service.)  In addition, the size of the board grew to nine members, with the community voting to add Anne Anderson and Bill Duncan (ARB and EPB chairs) as full voting members.  New owner John Gilles was impressed with the professionalism of the meeting:

It was the most professional one I have attended: so organized, and professionally run. I really appreciated getting the 2012 actuals vs budget, and the budget for 2013 ahead of time.

While the votes were tallied, Environmental Program Director Lori Sheridan Wilson gave an update on recycling, the impoundment project, our invasive species programs, and other environmental issues.  As the recipient of the birding big year award for the most recorded birds, I was blown away by the prize: a beautiful sculpture of a shorebird by Larry Warren.  Great catering by the Noisy Oyster restaurant led the lunchtime festivities: with oysters, burgers, and sides, we gathered with neighbors to celebrate the strength of our community with one another.oysterscleaning oysters

On Sunday, we were treated to a reading from Dershie McDevitt on her porch.  Even though almost 4 inches of rain fell over the two days, wreaking havoc with the roads, the islanders who showed up on Dershie’s porch enjoyed candlelight and rain on the roof, and her gentle cadences reading from the book as we looked out over the pond described in the novel.

Lila lived in that hammock those last weeks of her life, absorbed as always in the behavior of the wildlife teeming around the swamp pond thirty feet below: a thirteen foot male gator, his mates and offspring, egrets in full breeding fettle, newly arrived, raucous, squawking moorhens with their flashy red facial feathers.

All in all, POA weekend was a celebration of the people who make this community what it is: neighbors who work together for the common good, who support one another and enjoy each other’s company. Rain and cold weather couldn’t dampen the fun!

Island Living

Dewees Island Fishing featured in Guy Harvey magazine

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Dewees Island Fishing was featured in Guy Harvey Magazine.  Check out this article written by a friend of Alex Pasquini’s. There were stories all around that day, about how great the fishing was on a perfect January day. Here are a few excerpts of what he had to say about Dewees Island:

guyharvey magazine screenshot

Almost on cue though, the redfish began biting. This was by far the most fun of the day for the group as fish after fish would just continually bite. A few other fishermen had seen our luck and joined us in the creek, but there were still plenty of redfish for everyone to have a chance to catch them.

I was amazed at how pristine the island has remained, even though some residential dwellings have been built. The island has the relaxed feel of a state park with its environmental and wildlife conservation while also having the luxury of the home sites and beach. The roads are all dirt, and sometimes it was tough to even see the houses because the driveways were hidden because very little clearing was made for each lot…
Many on Dewees say, “You will never forget your first time you came to Dewees” and this is certainly true. As we boarded the 9:30 pm ferry back to the mainland, I could not help but think about coming back to this island and enjoying what it offered.

If you were out at six pipes that afternoon, please comment in with your own stories.


Fishing Rodeo Well Underway

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trout fishing
reeling in a trout near six pipes

Dewees Island is a fabulous location for fishing, and catching your own is one way to avoid the sort of fish fraud detailed in yesterday’s article in the New York Times. The 2012 annual fishing rodeo is well underway on the island. My attempts to find out the story of how this started have come up empty, with a few folks chuckling and saying something like… “I might have some vague memories of that…” but that’s about it. So if you have your own stories about the fishing rodeo, please comment in on this post.

Here is what we do know: Dewees Island has an annual fishing rodeo, wherein teams of up to seven people sign up to fish on a particular day. You have to sign up at least two weeks in advance, which is why there were two different teams fishing Friday and Saturday in the winds and vagaries of Hurricane Sandy. Each team earns points by catching fish.  The five fish that count are Sheepshead, Red Drum (Spottail Bass), Black Drum, Sea Trout, and Flounder, and the members of the team are responsible for keeping track of the total inches of fish caught. (Sadly, mullet, shrimp, and crabs don’t count.)

Any lot owner or homeowner may participate and enter his/her team. Each team may have up to seven teammates, including the team captain.  No other team can fish on another team’s registered day.  I think an angler can only fish on one team per year.

trout fishingIn order to encourage more children to participate, the point system is as follows:

  • Teammates 15 years old and older will receive one point for each inch of eligible fish caught.
  • Teammates under 15 will receive 1.5 points for each inch of eligible fish caught.

In order to encourage participation among families that cannot scrape up a team of seven, smaller teams get handicap points.  All teams with fewer than seven teammates will receive a 50 point handicap for each missing person.  (A team registering 5 people will start with 100 points).  Island staff members are welcome as teammates.  (And this could be a good strategy, as some of them have their own fishing charter experience!)

Each team may fish at any time from sunrise to sunset during their registered day, but the TOTAL FISHING TIME WILL BE LIMITED TO EIGHT HOURS. This will give all hard working anglers a much-needed break.  In order to take advantage of the best fishing times of morning and dusk, a team’s eight-hour time slot can be broken up as they wish. One team may fish, for example from, 6AM-10AM, and then again from 5PM-8PM.

Another team might choose to fish from 9AM-5PM. This will allow each team to choose the best tides of the day for fishing.  If any team member is fishing at any time, this counts against the entire team’s 8 hours. Team spirit is encouraged. Some teams even issue t-shirts! Others gather for a meal the night before to plan out hours, bait, and strategy.  Some teams appoint snack-ticians, who deliver breakfast or beer by golf cart to those hard working anglers.

You can fish from land at any of the island’s fishing spots, including six pipes and Chapel Pond.  Your group can divide up to cover the ferry dock AND Big Bend dock.

Each teammate will receive a scorecard to record his/her points. The team captain will tally up the team’s points and submit his/her team’s total score to Joan. The Rodeo is about fun and learning, so scorecards must be itemized and tallied. Teams who submit scorecards that aren’t tallied will be disqualified. Unusual fish or great fishing stories are encouraged to be recorded on the Captain’s Log. (and this blog!) For example, this year one team was fishing at Myrtle Dock.  One member finally caught a fish and whipped out his iphone to record a photo.  What the phone recorded was its own fall off the dock, bubbles and all.   Luckily for the angler, he had his phone in a lifeproof case, and he was able to retrieve both the phone and the photo!

We’d love to hear your stories about this (or previous) year’s teams and adventures.

Dewees Books

Curt Salisbury Publishes Calendar for Jake McGuire Savage Foundation

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Curt, one of the dedicated deckhands on the Dewees Ferry, is a very talented photographer.  We have mentioned his talents before, in this post about his pelican photo, and in this one about a spectacular shot of a baby turtle in the sunrise.

Now, he has produced a beautiful calendar, Shore Leave, featuring birds of the lowcountry.  I asked Curt about how he came to publish a calendar, and he told me the story of his friend Myra Vassian, who went to high school with him.  Myra was inspired, as we are, by Curt’s photo-a-day facebook posts.  She wanted to produce a calendar, and asked Curt to pick a charity that he wanted to designate as the recipient.

Curt got connected with the Jake McGuire Savage foundation years ago when he and his wife Becky donated a piano, and he thought that it would be a good fit: Myra is currently a voice teacher at Julliard.  And with this calendar, he has woven together her interests, his passion for photography and wildlife, and his connection to the island community.  The website at the Jake McGuire Savage Foundation describes their mission as follows:

 “Jake’s Music” is a nonprofit charitable organization created by his family to honor his brief life.

“Jake’s Music” brings free after-school music lessons and instruments to inner city children ages 7-18 as an incentive for developing individual skills, for achieving self-esteem and for strengthening community ties in the neighborhoods it serves.

Our organization receives broad based community support and funds students in a variety of musical pursuits: composition, performance, music technology, recording, and exposure to musical events.

Dewees residents Jane and Carroll Savage created Jake’s music to honor their son Jake, who wanted to be a musician.  Jane was very grateful of Curt’s efforts:

We are so appreciative of all that Myra and Curt have done to put this together and to direct all the proceeds to the Jake McGuire Savage Foundation.  It is really wonderful that people can enjoy Curt’s amazing photos and know that all the proceeds are going to help bring music education to kids in the Charleston and North Charleston area who otherwise would not get that exposure. This is an exciting time for Jake’s Music with excellent programs going and new ones in the planning stage.  Having people like Myra and Curt step forward unsolicited to generate funding for these programs is incredibly generous of them and gratifying to us.
To order your own copy, send a check for $20.00 to 530 Trapier Drive, Charleston SC, 29412.  All of the money goes to the foundation.


Living on Dewees

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The Dewees Island Blog is focused on “Nature, News and Neighbors on Charleston’s Natural Barrier Island Community”.

The Fairchild clan moved to Dewees Island, Charleston, SC full time. To document our experiences, help others get a feel for island living, and hopefully encourage you to join us, we’ve started a new blog called, “Living on Dewees“. It’s focused on “One Family’s Adventures in Living on an island Just Off the Coast of Charleston, SC”.

Today’s post is about how island life makes us so much more in tune with the weather.

We hope you’ll subscribe and enjoy reading our new blog.