As days here go, this one was basically standard. I say this tongue-in-cheek. It was what might popularly be called “another ho-hum day in Paradise”. It astounds me that in the context of Hilton Head Island that hackneyed quip actually has some substance to it. As I flew back home on my bicycle along the beach around 1:30 p.m. this afternoon with the moderate north wind at my back, I recall thinking to myself that as uniformly glorious as almost every day here is, each day is nonetheless different. You would never know it from the photographs I take that one day is dissimilar to another, but they are always distinct. For one thing the patterns of the tide are unique every day. Today for example we saw what was almost a cavern carved into the beach at Burke’s Beach, something we’ve never seen in the past five years. And the extent of the tides changes all the time (the beach was exceptionally broad today). The clouds of course are perpetually inconstant. And even if I am wrong in proclaiming some perspicacity in the discernment of differences, what does it matter anyway! I mean, how bad can it be that the sun is constantly shining in a blue dome, that the sunlight glistens on the Ocean, that the beach is spectacularly smooth! I have yet to tire of this standard; and I can only imagine that ill health and old age will kill it for me, if and when I can no longer enjoy it.
My day began as usual around 8:00 o’clock this morning, lounging in my sweat pants and hoodie, sipping strong, black coffee at the dining room table, waiting for the matutinal concoction of pills and pain killers (arthritis) to kick in, nibbling on blackberries, occasionally glancing up from my computer to catch a glimpse of a sailboat or fishing boat heading out to sea from Calibogue Sound. The little bit of “correspondence” I have to vet each day is normally just ping-pong email with my sister and perhaps some statement from one institution or another. Nevertheless it all takes some time and I amuse myself to go through the mechanics dutifully. By ten o’clock I aim to have breakfast underway, an egg, some cheese and a piece of salmon with sautéed veggies.
It isn’t long before our addiction to bicycling overtakes us. Without much discussion we calculate the moment of our departure. Typically we’re out of here by no later than 10:30 a.m. (as we were today) but sometimes as much as an hour later. In any event we know from habit that it will be between 3 – 4 hours before we’re back home depending on the strength of the headwinds and how passable the beach is. Yesterday for example it took us almost 1½ hours to go 2 miles (into a very strong headwind); whereas today we travelled the same distance in about 40 minutes. Whatever the conditions it is regularly assured that one way or another we’ll be cycling for at least three hours after which our internal clock tells us to quit. Not to mention the numb bum and tired leg muscles. This is so even when, as today, the cycling was incredibly smooth on the beach and the sunshine was brilliant and warm in our faces. Essentially we exhaust the time before the distance (which naturally means that the compass of our daily voyage varies with the weather conditions, mainly the direction and strength of the prevailing winds).
Invariably the only passion we have when we drag ourselves homeward and regain our residence is a rejuvenating cup of coffee. We haven’t the capacity to undertake any greater expedition. Eventually however after a reasonable pause and regrouping I yearn to go through the normal daily ablutions, reviving myself with a soapy lather and fresh clothes. Then it’s time to bask in the luxury of driving my car (my other passion) to have it washed and perhaps to pick up some household provisions. What a relief it is not to have to pedal myself about town!
The afternoon slips by very quickly when that four-hour chunk is routinely removed from the day. I am always amazed that the time has once again gone by so fast.