I strolled down to the beach last night hoping for a chance to see the Perseid meteor shower. It was not to be. Partly cloudy skies and the hazy, humid sub-tropical midsummer air obscured the view. No worries, though. I see plenty of meteors—shooting stars—throughout the year, especially in autumn and winter when the air doesn’t lie as heavily and the night sky over the ocean affords a more vivid artwork. So, walking northward along the shore, I otherwise entertained myself by occasionally dragging a toe across the ground to create a luminous line in the sand or, closer to the waterline, gently uncovering sanddollars and starfish all aglow in electric blue, both caused by the phenomenon of bioluminescent algae inhabiting our waters and washing ashore peculiar to this time of year.
In no time at all I had forgotten all about lights streaking across the sky. As it always happens during my frequent roams along this beach, I became engrossed in thought. This time, my thoughts were of my good fortune to be in such a place as Hilton Head Island. Unlike my high altitude colleagues out there in Jackson Hole, WY, I live barely above sea level in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region, a few steps from the gently rolling surf of the South Atlantic Bight. Like my colleagues, though, I am surrounded by astounding natural beauty and simple pleasures enjoyed rarely by most, but every day by me.
I thought of the visitors who comb the beach for seashells and other treasures so they can take a piece of “my” island back home with them, and those who thrill at the fleeting glimpse of a dolphin’s dorsal fin—just one of my neighbors—and I was thankful for the series of events that led me here on a whim seven years ago.
To the outside world, the Hilton Head experience is about golf (that’s me hitting out of trouble at Haig Point a few years ago) and vacation resorts, but those who live here see it in a very different light—and it is so much more than that.