Christmas Eve, South Carolina

Christmas Eve in South Carolina is for me an unparalleled fortuity! The weather is glorious. We’ve been boostered. The apartment is in copybook order. And after having bicycled 18.99 Kms along North Forest Beach Drive then back upon the dazzling beach I am ready for our celebratory dinner this evening. Meanwhile Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker, Op. 71 performed by the Klassische Philharmonie (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany) and Principal Conductor Heribert Beissel soothe my appetite for improvement and relaxation.

Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky’s life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors included his early separation from his mother for boarding school followed by his mother’s early death; the death of his close friend and colleague Nikolai Rubinstein; and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck, who was his patron even though they never met. His homosexuality, which he kept private, has traditionally also been considered a major factor though some musicologists now downplay its importance.¬†Tchaikovsky’s sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera, but there is an ongoing debate as to whether cholera was indeed the cause of his death.

The numerous beach accesses along Dune Lane (which skirts the North Atlantic Ocean) are not well known by other than Islanders (specifically those who inhabit the grand homes overlooking the sea) because they are highly secreted and for those traveling by automobile there is little or no parking upon the narrow roadway.

Once off the bike path and onto the beach I lay my bicycle on its side with the front wheel strategically positioned as flat as possible to enable me to use it as a headrest. ¬†Then I crumpled (there is no dignity for my lack of mobility) upon the sand, removed my worn boat shoes and lay flat directly towards the crashing sea and the burnishing sun. In an instant my consciousness evaporated into the upper regions of the air beyond the clouds. I was gone into the ether and blissful solitude! Or at least I thought I was. By an unprecedented action I was awoken from my reverie by what at first I hadn’t a clue but then realized I was being overtaken by a rambunctious miniature poodle puppy, licking my face, doing everything possible to engage my erstwhile tranquillized carcass in cooperative play. In the background I could hear his master apologetically beaconing him to stop but I assured the unseen mortal that dogs and I are friendly to one another.

The crown upon the day was a cheery email from our housekeeper who, in keeping with her unique and unmatched artistic talent, included a photograph of her own Christmas Eve thousands of miles distant where the forecast was a freezing warning. She hoped that Santa didn’t crash on his way there!