Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year’s Eve in South Carolina

I don’t imagine there is anywhere on earth that New Year’s Eve doesn’t involve an element of entertainment and merriment.  Being by the Atlantic Ocean adds a further feature of festivity particularly when, on a day of dazzling sunshine and warm temperatures such as today, the beach is flecked by throngs of families playing with one another, throwing balls for their barking pets and sitting about in beach chairs and chatting.  The regular shrieks of children heighten the carnival air.
On this New Year’s Eve we began our day much as we always do, commencing around 5:00 a.m. with the routine coffee and silent perusal of our accustomed web sites and email.  We did however elevate our typical breakfast in a small way by having bacon and corn bread with our “over easy” fried egg.  Then, when the sun had risen sufficiently on the distant horizon of the Ocean and sky, we bundled ourselves in sweaters, coats, gloves and hats and pushed off for our habitual early morning bicycle ride.

Sunny Day at the Beach

On the heels of the temperature having approached 65˚F yesterday afternoon, we were somewhat unprepared today on our early morning bicycle ride for temperatures closer to freezing. In point of fact we were rather under-dressed all considered, sans woolen gloves or hats. When however we came into the direct sunlight, away from the overhanging trees on the bicycle paths, we knew it would not be long before things improved. The vibrant blue skies soon provided ample radiant heat.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trauma on the Bike Path

Whether for the love of exercise (“exercise is medicine”) or – what is perhaps more likely –whether to expiate last night’s immoderation of martinis, shrimp, wine and pousse-cafés, early this morning we climbed aboard our respective tandems not long after the sun was up. The weather was decidedly cool. We were heavily layered in undergarments, golf shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters and jackets, along with woolen gloves and tuques (and for me the requisite silk scarf). Thankfully, however, it wasn’t long before we began removing some of the layers. There was no wind on the beach so we felt the full warmth of the increasingly intense sun.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Le Bien Être

Progressively the manacles of the workforce are falling from me and I am acclimatizing myself to the locale both in fact and metaphorically.  This morning’s rising sun and clear skies brought the assurance of another fine day.  After our predictable breakfast of fruit, coffee, muffin and one egg we bundled ourselves in woolen fisherman knit sweaters, gloves and tuques and set off on our one-speed bicycles along the beach, into the wind (to have the advantage of it upon our return).  The broad face of the unpopulated beach was welcome refreshment, as we breathed deeply to capture all that is good in the Atlantic sea air, savouring the glittering sunshine.  After we reached the most southerly point of our adventure, we swung back to retrace our passage, this time with effortless swiftness.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pacem in Terris

Apart from the necessities of nature (food, clothing and shelter essentially), when all is said and done it’s about peace of mind. Peace of mind is however not something easily won. Being a bleeding heart liberal isn’t a realistic prescription either: “…and world peace”. Rather it is a matter of accommodation, adjusting to the aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, successes and short-comings of both one’s self and others within one’s orbit. Peace of mind is as at times as illusory as perpetual happiness. No one is above the struggle to achieve peace of mind, no amount of prosperity or social advantage can ensure it and there is no one recipe which suits everyone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day on Hilton Head Island

During the past twenty-four hours as we adapt to our holiday accommodations, we have succeeded in ironing out the temporary wrinkles of our lives. Within a relatively short but intense period of time we have brought things into line and placated our circumstances. The three-day drive to South Carolina, while enjoyable for the most part, was nonetheless an imprisonment of sorts, requiring constant focus on the driving and the customary gymnastics to avoid traffic jams, plus the obvious in and out routine of hotels. Once here the machinery of relocation kicked in, mandating familiarity with the main functions of the condominium (the heating system, telephones, stove, laundry machines and Wi-Fi connections), collecting groceries as well as household provisions, liquor, wine, beer and Champagne; then arranging to rent bicycles; having the car detailed; and finally unpacking and storing our clothing and personal items. The business of having one’s own condominium (as opposed to a hotel room) is not without its exigencies. Already however I am imagining that we shall dine out infrequently if at all while on the Island. It may be an experience we preserve for our return drive when necessity requires it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve on Hilton Head Island

It would be a lie to say that getting here has been a breeze. Oh, nothing tragic or even especially out of the ordinary, just the usual traumas of daily living, the sorts of things one never factors into a holiday when smugly contemplating it from the comfort of one’s drawing room. Life has the knack of dishing up sufficient irritations to remind one that except for those rare and exceptional moments, it is an uphill struggle no matter how seemingly attractive the undertaking. It was for example the hour it took to check into our hotel in Richmond, Virginia. We had a suite for which there were two doors, but the “key” only worked in one of them. It required no less than three trips up and down the elevator (and we were on the top floor) to achieve the rectification of the problem. The hotel engineer had to reset the lock. This in itself seems to be a small inconvenience, but one must add to this annoyance that we had left our car parked at the front of the hotel, thinking we’d only be a minute or two before returning to remove it to the parking garage. By the time we regained the hotel entrance the bellboy was visibly impatient with us, effectively chastising us for being delinquent, suggesting that it was a matter of moments before the car would have been towed. He added further injury by informing us that a lady guest had almost struck the rear end of the car while trying to manoeuver around it. I didn’t even bother to explain to this subaltern what had transpired in the past hour.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Preparing for Christmas

It is now our well-worn wisecrack when asked what we’re doing for Christmas to answer “Pack!” For the past seventeen years since we met, we have retreated from festive family gatherings and opted instead for a trip south primarily to capitalize upon the evaporation of business opportunity during the period.  As evident as it is that Christmas week is not the ideal time for business, it was many years before I could implement the habit of closing the office door at that time for the simple reason that the over-riding emotionalism of Christmas obliged me to stay within reach of family.  Once however the cord was cut I learned to expand the holiday period to begin on any Friday immediately before Christmas (either because office parties inevitably consume that day or charitable employers give it to their employees).  Later I acknowledged that the first week of January is easily avoided as an exhausted population recovers from the expense and indulgence of the season.