New morning

As I stare out our third floor balcony window, munching slices of organic Honey Crisp apple, I see between sea pines and the tops of palm trees a tee on the golf course.  It is early morning – not long after eight o’clock. The manicured green grass shimmers with dew. The shadows are long across the fairway. Already there are golfers – appearing in the distance like muted brushes of a painting – making the rounds. The sky is clear, more crystal white than blue. I have just returned from the car wash, removing yesterday’s pollen. And filled the gas tank on Lighthouse Road at the outdated Exxon outlet which is there primarily I am sure to accommodate the army of grounds keepers employed by Sea Pines Association and the residential owners. I have routinely seen workers there at noon collecting from the convenience store what seems to be take-out sandwiches wrapped in heavy white paper.

The air is cool this morning. The forecast high is only 70°F.  The wind is from the northeast and the high tide is at 10:21 am so I’ll be able to cruise comfortably along the beach into the rays of the sun from Coligny Beach Park to Sea Pines Beach Club. I had plenty of sun yesterday. Though my initial burn has subsided I know it is best to keep my exposure to no more than an hour today (which is about the length of time required to complete the bicyle tour, roughly 5.5 km each way with a bit in between).

We continue to plan our departure a week from today. Tomorrow (Sunday) will be the last day we shop for provisions, enough to keep us fed here for four days, the last two of which we’ll nourish from the club house kitchen across the Lane. Most of our baggage is already stowed in the car. It is an odd feeling to be moving from a place even after just four months. It triggers a sense of remorse especially when personal items evaporate from view. How quickly we adapt! On the other hand we’re anxious to leave, to get on the road, to see new sights, to go home. We’ve reactivated the cable service at home for internet and television; and our housekeeper has been notified of our anticipated return.

Meanwhile the final days here have acquired a heightened clarity and significance.  Assuming we like Key Largo next winter it is probable that we’ll never return to Hilton Head Island. The older we get the more inclined we are to sustained heat. And with my increasing immobility the advantage of being able to swim throughout the 6-month sojourn is endearing. As much as I like Hiliton Head Island, and as many good things there are to say about it, there is nonetheless a counterfeit element which has always disturbed me.  The obvious concern for preservation of the natural features has unwittingly created a sometimes synthetic environment. The constant howl of leaf blowers and whir of lawn cutters lends an air of Disneyland maintenance. Sea Pines gated community is a mixture of peculiarity and economy. It’s a business.  And everywhere the thesis is inescapable. The entire island is not conducive to variation but instead encourages rigidity and propriety reminiscent of the “Old South”. There is no doubt that initial impressions are highly favourable; that the beaches are pleasant (though themselves somewhat forged and “maintained” as required); that there are good restaurants and convenient and popular shopping. Yet it is all strangely perfect.  Small wonder the Confederates are intransigent.

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In the six hours which have ensued since I last stroked a pen I have had a thoroughly captivating time cycling along the beach from Coligny Beach Park to Sea Pines Beach Club; and afterwards sorting through 143 photographs and editing about  40 of them.  The preamble along Greenwood Avenue was uplifting as well, ideal ambient temperature, dazzling sunshine, verdant park surroundings and smooth passage along the pathway (with signs everywhere of preparation for the upcoming RBC Heritage Classic PGA golf tournament).

As I ventured along the beach it struck me ironic to have earlier complained about Hilton Head Island. The beach is superb! This morning’s venture completely animated me.  Though the wind was strong and the sea was rough people were out in throngs. I fully acknowledge it is the people who fortified the endeavour.

It is tricky to take photos among a crowd without appearing to be intrusive.  I generally just point the iPhone camera, increase the closeness of my subject and fire away, hoping to produce something, anything from which I can derive capital for my limited artistic “alterations” to the initial product. Curiously the images frequently capture moments which might otherwise have gone entirely unnoticed.

As I cycled – with the strong wind at my back – along the shore but an hour after high tide, I positively sailed! I don’t believe I encountered one cyclist from the opposite direction coming towards me against the wind. It would have presented a serious barrier! But from my vantage, regarding the distant swirls of white particles upon the ever-widening face of the beach before my eyes, it was an unparalleled boon!

By the time I reached Sea Pines Beach Club the sky had begun to turn grey. But the forecast tomorrow is unprecedented sunshine and rising temperatures.  I fully intend to devote myself to the unwritten invitation for a swim in the sea. Strangely the wind is from the northeast.  And it is forecast to continue the following day. Such is the dénouement!