Every Summer Has a Story

Dear Reader:

Today if you take the B. I. R. D. S. scavenger hunt in downtown Summerville you can use the hidden clues on your guide to find the Carolina Parakeet.

The rhyming limerick clue reads: “At Town Hall, there’s a bird in the glass, from flocks of great numbers, one’s been cast. They once ruled the air, but now they’re not there… Sad to say, this bird’s lost to the past.”

John James Audubon 1833

Sadly the Carolina parakeet is extinct today. One of the last verified sightings was in the Santee Delta near Georgetown in 1939 by none other than our own Hampton Plantation owner, Archibald Rutledge.

What lead to the extinction-there were many factors but the main enemy-man. Deforestation to make room for agricultural fields thus removing its habitat. The green, yellow, and red feathers were in demand for ladies’ hats. Farmers shot the parakeets in large numbers thinking they were protecting their crops and sadly because these parakeets had built in ” flocking behaviors” – meaning the air borne flocks of parakeets would gather around the wounded and dead parakeets on the ground while more shots rang out from the farmers.

Actually the Carolina parakeets were helping humans by controlling the invasive cocklebur or sand spur.

I love this first adolescent story written for middle schoolers by Mary Alice Monroe -her first young people’s novel-I bought a copy for Eva Cate and couldn’t help reading it first! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

In the story Grandmother is carefully picking out sand spurs from a mangy dog the children bring home. It is the first time they hear Honey call the sand spurs ” the revenge of the Carolina Parakeet. ”

When the children excitedly ask about the curse … Grandmother Honey explains that the Carolina Parakeet was beautiful and used to fill the Carolina skies-their favorite food was sand spurs…but humans drove the bird to extinction and now all the islanders are stuck with seeds of these devil sand spurs. Revenge!

The children discover that the dog was probably abandoned on Capers Island and like wild deer swam across the channel to Dewees Island in search of food.

This explanation reminded me of one of the most beautiful scenes I ever witnessed in my life -Brooke had a friend from her hometown who was in charge of clearing out forest areas near the shore for what would be called Kiawah Island. We walked to the shore and there were deer frolicking in the surf . Unbelievably beautiful! It was 1971.

An once in a lifetime scene

So until tomorrow… we are all connected-what we do to another living creature will circle back around to us -completing a good effect or a tragic one. It is up to us.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Every Summer Has a Story

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Thanks for sharing the photo of the deer in the ocean…such a beautiful and unusual site…

    • Becky Dingle says:

      I can remember just how desolate and isolated Kiawah shores were in the early 70;s before Kiawah Island became what it is today….virgin forests, wild animals, and the sheer beauty of nature at its best…left alone.

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