On the edge

There are two predicates to my morning activity on Hilton Head Island; namely, the weather and the tides. We’re currently within one of those congenial temperate zones of seemingly endless sunshine.  The tides however are presently locked for the next several days in a state of high tide about the middle of the day – surrounding the time when most people think about going for a bicycle ride upon the beach. For example, the high tide today was at 12:55 pm. Putatively this hinted that the width of the shoreline convenient for bicycling was much diminished.  And it was. It was not however completely impassable.

Accordingly my journey today upon the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean from Coligny Beach Park to Sea Pines Beach Club  was “on the edge” so to speak, a narrow passage occasionally complicated moderately by pedestrians and sea birds. As for the birds, I make a point of avoiding them wherever they are.  This I deliberately do not to engage that childish amusement of startling them from their reposeful position for my aviation or mean-spirited curiosity. It is my contribution to sustaining Nature; and, an acknowledgement of the inter-relation of all particles of this vast and Delphic universe.

Regarding pedestrians, the governing social custom is first to preserve the alliance with left and right.  If, as is frequently the case, the on-coming pedestrians (who as regularly constitute couples or larger groups) appear to overtake the middle of the road, I generally dissolve the sinister/dextrous custom and lean to the right where the sand can be less passable.  If that option is not available, then the obvious determination to stand one’s guard ensues, usually without casualties. In those instances when other cyclists approach, they normally have the benefit of wind behind their back so I essentially ignore their rapid approach, pretending instead to be absorbed in the disintegrating necessity of pumping my ancient carcass forward.

It is seldom I have the wind behind my back for several reasons. First, I prefer to ride into the sunlight for the benefit of the direct sunshine upon whatever portion of my corpus is exposed thereto. By midday the sun is characteristically so situated to afford maximum deliverance upon a southwesterly direction; viz., towards Sea Pines from Coligny. This naturally explains why today I initiated my communication with the beach at Coligny and headed to Sea Pines. It also happens that, after having conducted myself along the same path many times, I am acquainted with the prevailing winds which are more often than not from Sea Pines towards Coligny.  I excuse the discomfort for a couple of reasons.  One, a dietary consideration, it forces me to work to keep the pedals of those one-speed rental bikes moving; and, two, I rather like the feel of wind in my face. Besides I think the wind has a tanning feature as well, an added cosmetic advantage contributing to that enviable “wind blown” look so popular in the ’40s. On a hot day, the wind serves a cooling purpose.  In any event, I have learned that on balance I prefer the sun in my face to the wind at my back.  So I pay the price, even though if I planned my outings differently I would be assured a speedier and less challenging return along Greenwood Drive to Lighthouse Road in Harbour Town where we presently reside.

Another product of the cycling at high tide is the axiomatic consequence of cycling closer to the water.  This may sound to be an obvious result of cycling on the beach but it is not.  Indeed at low tide – and very often low tides can be extraordinarily broad – the shoreline frequently becomes so wide that there is a tendency to cycle away from the water as though getting closer to it were a contamination of mobility (which it seldom is). Sometimes there are draughts of water which persist on the beach at low tide, rendering the appearance of water upon the border immediately adjacent the sea.  Once again this is incorrect. But quite apart from the mobility issue upon the beach, it has often occurred to me that sometimes the mere distance from something improves its overall affect – the insinuation perhaps of artistic preference to detail.  Being on the edge is a more clinical look at things.