After what was undeniably a quiet and relaxed winter on Hilton Head Island – what I often likened to a private retreat – things have begun to change.
In early March on the Island there was a demonstrable uptick of grandchildren. They were visiting their vacationing grandparents possibly as compensation for the parents on the heels of Christmas and the traditional misery of February in northern climes. It is I suppose remotely possible the grandparents actually wanted to see their grandchildren (though in any event I can safely conjecture that the grandparents were ultimately just as pleased to see the grandchildren leave). This alteration of the landscape was modest and largely tolerable (small children do not for example engender poolside barbecues and late night antics). But this low-key transition of local demographics lasted only until mid-March when a floodgate opened.
It was almost 50 years ago in 1967 that I graduated from prep school and commenced my undergraduate university studies. I can’t recall whether we students were then treated to what is now generally known as “March Break”. The convention is apparently alive in this generation and that was likely the reason for the first major upsurge of traffic on the Island. Pointedly the new interlopers were characteristically the age of young university students, perhaps even high school students. They arrived in unisex congregations resembling Lacrosse teams. Of course they contrasted with the predominantly geriatric crowd which in previous months populated the Island. Illustratively the frequency of three-wheel cycles was out-distanced by racing bicycles, frisbees, footballs and Hula-Hoops.
The subsequent modification of demographics on the Island occurred on Good Friday, March 25th spanning the subsequent Easter Weekend and Easter Monday on March 28th. The crowds changed noticeably on that holiday weekend. Specifically there was an influx of parents and their children and their dogs. It was a family affair. Now we were being treated to endless shouts from parents directing their children (and dogs) about where to go, where not to go, what to do, what not to do and collateral arguments between visibly strained parents. The bicycle paths had become treacherous as young children and distracted parents fought to preserve the right-of-way. There was likewise a manifest contest between cyclists and motorists at crosswalks and intersections. The prospect of a quiet breakfast at one of the local eateries was preposterous. Line-ups and traffic had quickly become the order of the day.
Today I read that we can expect 100,000 visitors to watch the upcoming performance of the 48th RBC Heritage PGA Tour taking place on nearby Harbour Town Golf Links April 11 – 17, 2016.
Harbour Town is in Sea Pines where we reside. We regularly cycle throughout Sea Pines and are therefore familiar with this area.
I can’t imagine where they’e going to put 100,000 people! We consider it fortunate that we have already planned to be off the Island April 9 – 11 when we’re visiting Jekyll Island, GA.
Though we are not anxious to rush or forego the remaining two weeks of our scheduled sojourn on Hilton Head Island (the compensating sunny weather and rising temperatures are hard to reject categorically), we have nonetheless resigned ourselves cheerfully to the dénouement. If nothing else the incremental proliferation of people highlights the advantages of being here off-season. It mildly astonishes me that I lament our erstwhile isolation. I had always thought of myself as paramountly social but I am re-thinking that inscription. Prior to the wave of newcomers onto the Island my mind was largely preoccupied first with natural and second with philosophical musings. Now however those abstruse contemplations has been unequivocally side-lined by my absorption with the avoidance of crowds, whether on the beach, on the bicycle paths, by the pool, on the roads, at restaurants or stores or in the parking lot at the condominium. As unpalatable as these concerns may be, they are but token compromises for what we know was destined to change. The confluence of these two rivers (hibernation and home) necessitates some muddy water. When we tip-toe from one stream to another we’ve got to endure moderate discomfort. But the time has come. Winter is over. It’s time to go home. Things are getting busy here!