The irreligious wind

It isn’t often we have an easterly wind. Today was the exception. Though the wind was reportedly only 16 km/h it felt much stronger as I proceeded inland up Greenwood Drive to Pope Avenue and across to the sea at Coligny Beach Park. The reason I welcomed an easterly wind is because it means I can sail home on my bicycle with the wind at my back along the beach from Coligny Beach Park to Sea Pines Beach Club, roughly 5 km, the approximate distance from the yacht basin where we reside in Harbour Town to the Sea Pines entrance on Greenwood Avenue. Curiously this favourable direction is not, as I would have otherwise imagined, from the north in keeping with an overall north-south configuration of  Hilton Head Island along the coast of South Carolina. That configuration is however an uneducated one. In fact the barrier island (and indeed the whole of South Carolina’s coast along the North Atlantic Ocean) are predominantly east-west (or at least northeasterly-southwesterly) rather than directly north-south. For whatever reason the predominantly easterly wind is an unusual occurrence.  Obviously it comes flying off the North Atlantic Ocean, whisking the tiny particles of white sand about in sweeps of undulating currents upon the beach. I took advantage of this agreeable wind at my back with pure delight today!

Not surprisingly there were no cyclists coming in my direction as I soared along the beach today.  Notably the high tide was at 2:52 PM, near the time I entered upon the beach shortly before two o’clock after my routine respite and drink of refreshingly cold water from the fountain at Colony Beach Park. I should add parenthetically that as I sat upon the bench in the Park I ended chatting with a fellow who lives on the Island (nearby the Cross Island Bridge).  He passed in front of me and commented aimlessly upon the high wind, to which I replied similarly. He then asked, “Do you live here?” to which I replied, “For part of the year“. He then asked where I was from; and thereafter our conversation began. He is 70 years old; he has had a double lung transplant; he’s a Methodist (Presbyterian) who repeated the public abuses of the clergy and suggested that religion is on the decline. He was a former employee of US Steel in Pittsburgh where his title was something like hot metal shoveler.  He has a pension. He pointedly commented that financial and dietary matters are best governed by personal control. He admonished Americans for their diet of Macdonald hamburgers and potato chips. He noted that technology has replaced humans in the production and retail of steel. I believe he mentioned his son and his son’s wife live with him. He was extensively traveled (he mentioned Turkey and Germany in particular); he may once have been in the US Army abroad. He said the Germans had made Europe what it is.  He was not vaccinated which he said his lung operation prohibited; though he considered it a violation of his personal freedom to be required to be vaccinated.  And, yes, he’d vote for Trump before Binden whom he considered was causing economic gloom. We parted on favourable terms though not without a degree of political conflict. I acknowledged my indiscretion to meddle in his government’s affairs. He did not seem at all offended.

The venture along the beach was marked by its own moderate obstacles.  I discovered a further feature of the easterly wind; namely, the high tide is higher.  I have learned that normally (that is, without an easterly wind) passage along the beach even at high tide is quite manageable.  But today I saw that the breadth of the passable beach is much diminished.  Because of the chilly weather there were fewer than usual pedestrians along the beach.  There was only one occasion on which the narrow beach presented any significant obstacle to passage. A congregation of four people had paused their ambulations. At the same time, cyclists (myself and another crew of four) headed in the same direction at the same time and forced the pedestrians to abandon momentarily their position – since anyone could divulge that passage for the cyclists was limited to the path immediately adjacent the incoming tide. The passable beach quickly deteriorates into heavier impassable sand.

The greatest number of pedestrians were bent into the irreligious wind in a northeasterly direction. Most of them wore something on their head. The short-term interlopers identified themselves unwittingly by sporting short pants but few of them were able to resist the need to cover their upper body and neck with insulation of some degree. Although I naturally appreciated the wind at my back, I confess to having missed the thrill of being buffeted by a cold North Atlantic breeze.