Green Grass and High Tides, Forever: Coastal Impressions Part 2 of 5

The patrons of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina appear to hide away from the world, and perhaps even from the sea.  If I did not comprehend the geography, I would not know that the ocean existed when on some parts of the island, or that Hilton Head was an island.  Zoning laws require businesses to blend into the environment, often sitting back off the road obscured by landscaped flora.  Landscape design favors the state tree, the palm tree.  The woods are dense, and the foliage is a deep, lush, green.  Spanish moss drips from trees.  I saw signs for a few hotels, but they too were hidden away from the road.

Residential neighborhoods provide most of the housing options.  Architecture in each neighborhood is generally uniform to the neighborhood.  My sister has a “vacation” house on the island, and my daughter and I visited in July 2011.  We almost felt as if we were cloistered away in the neighborhood.

I was stunned to discover my sister and her husband had never been to a beach on the island.  They have been vacationing there for over 10 years.  Evidently, they spend their vacation time shopping, redecorating, and landscaping.  We located an island map and subsequently, the beaches.  The access trail to Dresden Beach led us through a wooded area.  Flora enclosed the walkway, and the tree canopy overhead muted the sunlight.  Suddenly, the woodland ended and we stumbled forth into glaring sunlight, in the midst of high, pale, dunes.  We now heard the sea, but where was it?  We meandered down the path through the dunes and finally reached the beach.  We also visited Coligny Beach, which is across from the major tourist shopping area.  These two beaches were grand sweeps of debris washed desolation.  The sand was white gray and very soft.  The sunshine was not a warm yellow, but starkly white, almost as if it was heat-filled moonlight.  The ocean was dark, gray, black and green, the waves pulled at the coastline as if to tuck the land under the waves.  In the sweltering heat of July, we felt exposed, cold, and unwelcome, and were almost glad to quit that island.  I will return, as I cannot give up hope yet that there is a more pleasant prospect yet to be revealed, sought out from where it is tucked away like everything else.


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