Five years ago when we first drove from the South Carolina mainland across the causeway above the wavering sea grasses onto Hilton Head Island I remember my instant glowing pleasure. The main boulevard (Cross Island Parkway) was beautifully paved, lined with palm trees, surrounded on both sides by verdant greenery and staid, well-maintained buildings. I knew that I was going to love the place. And I do! Apart from the gloss of familiarity which inevitably varnishes any place one subsequently comes to know, nothing has changed.
As we drove back from lunch today, the mid-afternoon sunshine dappled the roadway and the polished hood of the car and complemented the grand Sea Pines residences. It would be impossible to ignore what an enclave the Island is, no evidence of neon commercialism, meticulously cared for and landscaped properties, numerous golf courses and yacht clubs and almost surreal urban planning. As I later reclined on a chaise long by the pool absorbing the warm afternoon rays, two deer casually wandered nearby. Earlier this morning we caught a glimpse of a dolphin on the Atlantic shore as we rode our bicycles on the beach. Yesterday a large crocodile was sunning itself on the edge of a lagoon bordering a golf course. The pelicans performing their skilful yet somehow preposterous dives can be seen at any time along the Ocean shore. The alluring maritime sound of the sea gulls is ubiquitous.
Hilton Head Island is a dream come true for me. Not only is the place an unimaginable treasure in its own right, it also part of my cherished ambition to spend the winter in a place such as this. We are only one week into this four-month adventure and I continually wonder if I shouldn’t pinch myself. I admit that at times I persecute myself with thoughts about what I shall do to fill the time. I have no experience in these matters. Our agenda, though ostensibly uncluttered, has nonetheless proven to be all we can or care to manage. We were for example on our bikes shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning and didn’t return until after 12:00 p.m. We bicycled from Lands End to Marker 76 considerably past Coligny Park (which I reckon is about the mid-point of the beach). We didn’t even stop for a coffee at Harbour Town this morning. And after we returned to the apartment we wasted no time in showering and getting ourselves ready for our jaunt to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Afterwards we did a bit of grocery shopping. It was only in deference to my gathering exhaustion from the fresh air and exercise that I indulged myself in a snooze by the pool until the sun began to set.
All my life I have known limitation upon my luxuries. There has always been a price to pay for what was only temporary reprieve. Now however I can contemplate seemingly endless days of uninhibited gratification. We needn’t jerk ourselves to heel; we’ve miraculously ordered our affairs to accommodate what we’re doing. I honestly cannot imagine having planned this experience more satisfactorily.