It was a truncated but trenchant bicycle ride today. Across Lighthouse Lane to Plantation Drive then down Heritage Road and Old Military Road around the inlet to S Sea Pines Drive back through the golf club past the wavering sea grasses and Palmetto ferns towards home. The 8.39 km jaunt was just enough to expiate our guilt; enough to soften the angst; enough to capture a final blink. We leave in two days. Our luggage is mainly packed and already stowed. The remaining necessities are a minimum. The ‘fridge is nigh on empty. We’ve made plans for our concluding breakfast at nearby Lowcountry Produce Market and Café wither we’ll take our last bicycle ride through the towering sea pines. Our dinner on the eve of our departure – as it was on the eve of our arrival 4½ months ago – will be grâce à la cuisine of the chef at the club house. It’s time to say farewell to Hilton Head Island for another season!
On our way back – not to be oppressed by schoolgirl wistfulness – we deflected the bike rack long enough to dip across the laneway to Harbour Town Bakery for chocolate croissants and pecan clusters. An afternoon remedy with espresso to calm the blemish of impending departure. Afterwards we skirted the yacht basin for one further gawp, staring into the sky and open waters beyond the lighthouse.
Leaving a cherished place such as Hilton Head Island is never uncomplicated. I vividly recall the moment we crossed the bridge from the mainland onto the Island many years ago. And the first late afternoon I strode upon the beach off S Forest Beach Drive where we were then residing. Each of those moments – and the many that have followed – remain impressed in my mind. Hilton Head Island is a magical lamp of endless colour and stunning transformation. At the same time one cannot deny the precision of the moment. The Island is burgeoning with visitors with each passing day. Though Hilton Head Island is not especially famous for its wintertime attraction, the months of January – March are among the most favourable of the year not because of the heat but because of the tranquillity. As much as I have lately been animated by the beachside crowds and their ceaseless though unwitting comic antics, the thickness of the scheme is daunting.