October 31, 2016

Ye Hilton Head of Yore

Saturday:

Wow. As I told Steph when I saw this place, "Who needs a beach when you have a place like this?" It's a pleasure dome, with 10ft high built-in bookshelves with a ladder. I'm a complete sucker for libraries with a stepladder. Maybe it's the painting The Bookworm, or maybe just the symbolism of it, a library so big it needs a stilt.  I clambered up the ladder minute ten and picked up a book.

The dogs went crazy in the house when we arrived; they raced up and down and over and out like it was a racetrack. I took them for an immediate walk in the dark without "production", so when Max got back in the house he immediately pooped.  Then later we found Maris had pooped in a room upstairs. So goes life with dogs.

The rugs here are beautiful, especially when juxtaposed with the fine wood floors. I hope I'm not so shallow as to be swayed by mere rugs....but I could be. Plus there's just something about an A-frame cathedral ceiling to add interest.

Turned on the Buckeyes - it's 12-7 at halftime, and watched what looks like final game of Dodger-Cub playoff with Cubs in command at 5-nothing. Looks like it's going to be an Indians-Cubs World Series, which seems about as an unlikely a pair as one could come up with given their respective histories. Nice to see.

Sunday:

Beautiful day, 68 degrees, full sun. Chainsaws sound in the distance, clearing the aftereffects of Hurricane Matthew.

The sun pixilates on the deep green foliage - from the tropical bushes to the pines and palms to the oaks and "ghost grass", Spanish moss. This house is set in a forest, smack dab in it, but with an incomplete canopy that affords a decent amount of sun. More than I thought we'd get this far from the beach.

It's funny that the song "Dixie" was written by a New Yorker looking out a dreary rainy window. "I wish I was in Dixie," echoed in his head he said, and thus one of the most famous Civil War songs was inspired by the weather. The funny thing is how it took off originally in the North just before the War then caught fire as the Southern anthem as the states seceded. I can say honestly I'm glad to be in Dixie.

The houses here are tight-close but the woodland makes it less obvious. The "yard" is postage stamp-sized, but with the natural feel akin to German Village.

Speaking of postage stamps, there's a print inside the house featuring an old stamp of Ben Franklin from the early 1900s and it reminds me of my youth when I briefly collected stamps just like that one. Funny how something like that can take you back, just the mere sight of it. Maybe that's the point of vacation pictures and souvenirs and collections in general: nostalgia. I suspect that collectors who didn't start their collections when young are few and far between. Certainly the whole baseball card collecting craze was a nostalgia play.

After Mass & grocery, took Max on a beach run while Steph walked Maris. Saw the most dolphins I'd ever seen - about a dozen close to shore and one showed his head above the water. Magical.

Full sun and uncrowded beach. Did about thirty minutes on the run and then we put the dogs on long 30ft leashes and let them roam free. They water-frolicked a bit and sniffed clumps of sea debris.

Monday:

High noon at the beach. Generous sun, and I feel grateful for this week though at the same time recognize there's no safety net after this - just relentless winter.

But that's tomorrow and I assume tomorrow will take care of itself. Just now I have the ocean for a footstool and I'm drunk on sun. I'm sure glad we pushed this to last week of October given the hurricane as well as how nectar-sweet the weather is at this late date. I've pushed the season back a week: it's 56 and cloudy in Ohio and 74 and sunny here. Good trade.

I always felt October too soon for a "winter vacation" but it's not terrible from a sun view.  As nice as this Hilton Head deck and house are, nothing is as relaxing as the beach instant relaxation recipe: sun and jazz. I nod off for ten minutes and waken with the tide a foot away.

Going to the ocean is a time-honored activity. Melville wrote 150 years ago in Moby Dick:
"[Ask yourself] Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy a coat, which he badly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach?"
Heard a big kerplunk this morning and went out to find doggie Maris had fallen into the pool and could not get out, despite steps a foot away. So I helped fish her out. We suspect Max "helped" knock her in by delivering a body blow.

Tuesday:

Nothing could be finer than to eat at my own diner in the mooorning! And so I did, making French surrender toast and crisp bacon (achieved by leaving in microwave an extra minute).

2+ hours of music yesterday! Ready for some classical this morning thanks to pleasant "on hold" music of cable company.

(Later) Ended up staying 3 hours at the beach. Much enjoying the "quiet forest" that is our deck amid the dappled jungle. A couple of big trees stick out of the deck via big squares cut out of it.

So civilized, this time here, civilized in terms of weather and civilized in terms of leisure. I should call this trip log The Daily Cigar, for thus has been my habit. Steph came up with a grand idea for lunch: bean burgers cooked on the outdoor grill. Man they were tasty. Painless vegetarianism. The slight char of the grill on the burgers combined with blue cheese dressing and tomato slices and lettuce on a bun - yum.

The beauty of this setup is I finally get to stay at a place in Hilton Head set amid forest and thus have the best of both worlds: sea by day and forest by dusk and dawn. A fine mix, and having such a beautiful house to come back to makes coming back from beach early today a relief due to wind.

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Come 4pm we take the dogs for their sea walk. About a mile only all told; 7 minute walk to the beach and then they scamper to and fro. They do three miles while we do one. Come 5pm we're back in the friendly confines and relaxation is heaped upon relaxation: I continue my cigar and have a beer.

Reading-wise, I enjoyed some of Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life. A light biography of the ultimate overachiever. Of the Founding Fathers I've read heavily on John Adams, some on Thomas Jefferson, and little on George Washington or Alexander Hamilton or James Madison. Good to read about Hamilton given I was born in the town he was named after.

This place as so many cozy writing nooks. I want to explore them all, sit in each and feel all writerly while I enjoy the frisson of "travel" (defined narrowly). I sample the bar today and the entrance way lounge chair. Their motto is let no small area next to a window go unexploited sitting-wise.

Wednesday:

The dogs are of late treating dry dog food as a decorative item: "Oh cute, he's putting out food to let potential visitors know dogs live here."

Nice walk on beach to jazz. A mile or so, just enough to get a rhythm going. Later dug some classical; Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake hit the spot. Back-to-back days of 2-hour concerts. Followed up with 30 pages of the light Hamilton biography.

A symphony of sun / Even as I run-- / Time binds us all / Begotten of the Fall.

Took dogs on run thru Sea Pines and then did same thing on a more relaxing bike ride. There's just something about those thick pines on the trail that invites wonder.

Then more Alexander Hamilton, whose life invites a kind of wonder as well.

Purgatory is one of those subjects I try to avoid with a ten foot pole. I'm allergic to it the same way I'm allergic to the idea of opening my new house to the poor and homeless. But when the Medjugorje message guy sent an email with the latest visionary message, he included a link to a "must read" book from an Austrian visionary who is said to talk to souls in Purgatory. I downloaded a sample and have to admit it makes for compelling reading. Who knows if it's true; I've given up trying to even make that call. One small mark of authenticity, for me, is when she said God "sends" no one to Purgatory but souls elect to go there on their own in order to be more pleasing to God. This makes a certain amount of sense given the sudden clarity the afterlife brings, you'd think people might well volunteer to change in light of that light. They could long for their own self-improvement.

And yet as much as I don't like the subject, I do feel sort of cleansed just reading it. It momentarily realigns priorities and gives one relief from the "burdens" that really aren't burdens at all, like the thought I'll be going a loooong time after this without a vacation...

'Round 5pm I figured it was time to round up the cattle, I mean dogs, and so I took a beauty walk past the loblolly pines and gracious mansions and leashed the dogs and they forced-marched me like Sherman to the sea. Maris has the long line but Steph adds to the retractable leash such that she's never truly free. I let Max go but he trotted down the beach like a sled dog and stopped (fortunately) to greet a couple sitting on the beach. They held Max by the collar while I hurry-jogged to collect him.

By 6pm we're back in our lovely haunts. The time expresses, like a fast train; there's nothing quite like that gilded time, 11am to 1pm, when all the leaves are as glossy as Mae West lipstick.

(Later): Spectacular meal tonight. Steph bought fresh grouper - pricey ($25) but oh so good. Cooked it on the grill and it just melted in your mouth. I'm starting to think that fresh fish is to "normal" fish as fresh tomatoes are to store-bought - it's almost like it's a different fruit or meat. Adding to the delight was freshly mashed potatoes and green beans.

Thursday:

Listening now to Holst's Jupiter in front of the ocean. The music seems to fit this sea as much as the distant planet. Which makes sense, both being colossals.

Reminds me of that nature show where they just let cameras run in remote South American village or something. Sunrise Earth on Discovery

The membrane between the present and past fades on vacations and maybe it was on a day like today Papa took me home from school. Funny how persistent it is in memory - perhaps because it was rare. No wonder most Christians fail to see the Eucharist for who it is - we're jaded by His ubiquity.

Read some Hamilton bio. A lustful cad he was; Abigail Adams called him the very devil and of a highly lascivious nature. And doesn't "lascivious" sound like what it means?

Rested till about 4:30 when I brought the hellions down where they raised hell. Max got a burr stuck in his butt so Steph doctored him up. Max later stepped down into a sea hole and went under water, looking none-too-pleased. Held his ear at ninety degrees trying to get water out. He's not too much the water dog although he obliges me when I get in with him.

Friday:

Our last day, alas!

From Keith Mano novel I'm reading presently:
"Flames and moving water settle me - they're images of the holy spirit because they can envelope. There is no shape, no matter how odd or recalcitrant, they can't lap around."
Caressed shoreline with my soles. Feel full up and ready for the work grind again. Steph said she felt bored in beginning, wondering what she was going to do all week, but that dissipated when the rhythms of sea and relaxation began to predominate and she relaxed.

Tide coming on in: The clean uncluttered look of packed sand and simple sea.

Driftwood from Hurricane Matthew look like turds in the sand.

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