At last! Twenty-four hours after arriving on Hilton Head Island (South Carolina) and having completed the prerequisites to getting settled in, I was able to make my way along the grey cedar boardwalk from the hotel to the broad band of beach on the chilling Atlantic Ocean. As soon as my shoes hit the sand I was reminded of the striking softness of beach colours, taupe wet sand, blue-grey water, white and grey seagulls, all under the massive dome of an endless sky. I had forgotten how marvellous gold looks upon a beach background. Either way I looked, to the left or to the right, the beach was interminable, rounding distant corners beyond which I could no longer see. The vastness of the beach invited me to travel ever further, as far as the large American flag flapping in the distance and still more.
It gave new meaning to “off-season” to be walking along the beach on Boxing Day with my Panama Jack hat turned backwards to avoid being blown off by the high, cold wind, trudging over the hard packed sand dressed in Sperry topsiders, thick white sport socks, khakis, windbreaker and silk scarf, bent into the driving snow showers. In fact the term “snow showers”, though seemingly colloquial, is far more apt an expression than our Canadian term “snow flurries” because here what you get when the temperature is only a fraction above freezing are small particles of iced rain which melt the moment they touch anything.
I was almost alone on the boundless beach, except for an enthusiastic runner and his black Labrador dog, and a wary woman who walked haltingly from the beach resort unsure about whether to continue in the face of the irreligious snow showers and perhaps intimidated by the emptiness of the landscape. The woman’s curiosity and likely preference for some needed post-Christmas exercise finally trumped her concerns, though she walked along the rim of the beach closest to the resort for security. I headed determinedly into the wind in the opposite direction, breathing deeply as I walked, sucking in the Ocean air in an effort to burn as many calories as possible and to reawaken my body and mind after three days of concentrated driving from Canada. There were remnant tracks of a bicycle along the sand. The daily constitutional – whether on foot or on bicycle – would become our routine, the accent to our home cooked meals and evening cocktails. It naturally pleased me to have nothing other than that to consider. A year of diligence and attention to the demands of running a small business were now side-lined and temporarily behind me. In fact considering how obsessive I tend to be, it always surprises me that I am capable of extricating myself so completely from the harness during a vacation. It is as if I were simply unplugged and rendered instantly defunct though admittedly the daily routine would become my new agenda, my checklist of duties to accomplish and by which to assess myself. Nonetheless, as the saying goes, a change is as good as a rest.