Beyond any doubt, I am convinced that the Lowcountry of South Carolina is a paradise. So convinced, in fact, that it is the inspiration behind the titles of my two books, “Wrinkles in Paradise” and “More Wrinkles in Paradise,” both set in South Carolina Lowcountry amidst the marshes and fluctuating tides, statuesque water birds, oak trees spreading perpendicular, the beaches, and the weather.
To be honest, however, I have discovered a rival. On the other coast, far from the warm waters of the Atlantic, rests the jewel of San Diego on the Pacific. With its own unique landscape, San Diego stands with the ocean to the west and low rising hills to the east. The weather, chilly at night, is gloriously constant during the day, hovering mostly in the 70s. Humidity is seldom a factor.
In the San Diego milieu, the green lushness of South Carolina is replaced with a desert landscape of sandy soil and cacti of many varieties. In places, grasses similar to the savanna grasses of Africa grow. The infamous California freeways are lined with wild mustard plants peppered with petite yellow flowers and poppy color-bursts of orange and red.
Similar to the Lowcountry, sandy topsoil is pervasive, but dotted with scrubby bushes and small trees rather than with tall pines and thick undergrowth. Small hills become foothills and eventually full-fledged mountains that rise and extend until they are obscured by cloud cover, or on cloudless days, they extend as far as the eye can see.
San Diego’s Spanish past is embedded in its culture. While South Carolina has plantation houses that conjure visions of the “Old South,” white adobe Spanish Missions remain iconic symbols of the “Old West” conjuring images of priests in muslin robes and parishioners in home-woven clothes of bold colors.
Spanish is ubiquitous in San Diego. It is used everywhere to name streets, communities and points of interest. Casa Romantica, San Luis Obispo, San Ysidro, Penaquitos, Rancho Santa Fe and Temecula flow in soft, melodic tones off your tongue and land easy on your ears.
As South Carolina has cotton and peaches, California has avocados, lemons and limes. Lowcountry beaches slope gently to the sea. San Diego’s beaches often lay at the bottom of precipitous, drop-off cliffs. We grow alligators and tree frogs. They nurture seals and coyotes. Both host rattlesnakes.
Thinking of our South Carolina Lowcountry and its rival San Diego, California, I am convinced that they are both examples of paradise: two beautiful images of one beautiful country.
Wanda Lane is a freelance writer in Bluffton.