Looking back, moving forward

In the early 1950s, three lumber mills contributed to the logging of 19,000 acres of the island. The island population was only 300 residents. Before 1956, access to Hilton Head was limited to private boats and a state-operated ferry. The island’s economy centered on shipbuilding, cotton, lumbering, and fishing.

As we prepare to leave Hilton Head Island and to reignite our domestic interests in Mississippi Mills I have today coincidentally been moved to look back on the past and look forward upon the future.

In point of fact I wasn’t necessarily moved to look upon the past of Hilton Head Island.  Rather I was looking for the whereabouts of a former prep school colleague of mine who – and this is the real coincidence – I unwittingly discovered ran a business on Executive Park Road.  I visited him at his office several years ago but since then we have been out of touch. At my age I regret to say I am inclined regularly to scope the obituaries to keep abreast of those in my past. Anyway that is all beside the point.  In the process of looking for my erstwhile schoolmate I accidentally – not coincidentally – triggered a wealth of information about the Island itself.  As most records indicate, Hilton Head Island has a rich history.

Among the points of interest are that it was virtually uninhabited for the longest time.  It had a signal role in the boundary between the Confederate South and the Union North.

The Union is a term that has historically been used to refer to the United States of America, particularly during the American Civil War and specifically to the national government and the 20 other free states and five border slave states which supported it. During the American Civil War, the Union was opposed by 11 southern slave-owning states that had declared a secession to join together to form the Confederacy. The U.S. was opposed to the Confederacy, never recognizing the claimed legitimacy of the Confederacy’s declaring of secession. It insisted at all times that it remained entirely a part of the United States of America. After four years of open warfare, the Union defeated the Confederacy, ending slavery in the country.

Many freed slaves went to Hilton Head Island upon the victory of the Union and the declaration of emancipation. To this day the Gullah history is elemental to Hilton Head Island. We have also tasted popular Gullah culinary dishes.

The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. They have developed a creole language, also called Gullah, and a culture with significant African influence.

As I browsed the internet pursuing one feature or another of Hilton Head Island, we began conversing between ourselves about matters involving personal affairs. What arose was the construction of a new premium apartment building along the Mississippi River in our baliwick Almonte. Prompted by that intelligence I spoke on the telephone with the Attorney-at-Law of our Landlord (and former best client) whose personal affairs similarly correspond to the evolution of our own; namely, downsizing and planning the funeral. The Attorney-at-Law agreed with us that management of future directions is increasingly topical and imperative. To be succinct our private affairs are now best addressed through a corporate landlord with perpetual existence, an ingredient which the Attorney-at-Law did not rebuff. We are for the time being both content and desirous to preserve our existing relationship; but we are also both open to accommodation for pertinent change. Being as we are “out of the country” for six months of the year the speed of change and its related management require a degree of foresight and appropriate application.

It was on the heels of this heady beginning to our day that we resolved to freshen the atmosphere by taking a bicycle ride.  It was after all a Sunday morning, an exceptionally sunny day; and the wind was from the Northwest with high tide at 11 o’clock.  Tower Beach would be the starting point.

Initially I had planned to swim in the sea.  But before stepping onto the beach from the boardwalk I abandoned the enthusiasm.

The beach at Tower Beach was too soggy at high tide to permit cycling upon the shore. I was obliged to walk my bike a considerable distance northeasterly before gaining a plateau dry enough for bicycling. At the same time I spotted a convenient place to recline in the sand on the border of the dunes. It was the work of a moment to drop the bicycle, arrange my shoes (one on the front bicycle wheel for a pillow, the other aside as a drawer for my iPhone, Apple watch, Tom Ford spectacles and Carmex lip balm), remove my Tommy Bahama linen shirt and lay it on the sand, then position my carcass upon the whole facing directly at the glistening yellow orb. I was soon lost in space unable to identify my whereabouts.

When I recovered from my momentary reverie beneath the radiating sun and the heat of the day, the frothing sea was alluring. I was by now fully apprised of the mechanics for shoreline deposits. I dropped the bike within steps of the sea, stored the cargo and set upon my goal.  I trod unhesitatingly through the water until I was up to my chest, then plunged beneath the green water, absorbing the salinity, refreshing myself, cleansing my eyes, winning my victory in the North Atlantic Ocean! I floated on my back.  Then in a sudden I noticed the dorsals of dolphins in the distance. I splashed the water to signify to them my conjunction. Women on the shore motioned to me wildly, pointing to the dorsals in the distance, as though I were unaware.

Afterwards I sailed on my bike to Sea Pines Beach Club. It swarmed with afternoon sunbathers and rollicking children. I lingered there on a wooden bench beside the club house.  I hosed the sand from my feet. Then it was a clinical ride home through the golf club along Lighthouse Road to Harbour Town where I took a hurried glance at the yacht basin.