Since my sister, brother-in-law and mostly-immobile 91-year old mother live in Hilton Head, South Carolina, we are the ones who have made the trek southward for the holidays in the past five, six, seven (who’s keeping track?) years. This year, my husband and I took a circuitous route through Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina and Charleston, SC on our way to our Low Country Christmas. We arrived a week early to help my mother with her preparations – the tree, the gift shopping, the laying-in of a huge supply of foodstuffs, the baking and of course the annual Cookie Decorating Extravaganza.
To keep sanity around all this hyperactive holiday hubbub, I seek the water. Not a problem down there – it’s water, water everywhere. The first documented water feature of the trip was in Charleston. We strolled with our friends Bob and Carolyn along the waterfront and visited the Pineapple Fountain, an impressive mass of stone in the shape of the traditional Southern hospitality symbol.
After arriving at Hilton Head, I sought out early morning or late afternoon water features to bookend the busy days. Palmetto Dunes, the “plantation” in which my relatives reside abounds in water features (not a real plantation, but that’s what they call multi-use developments there – it sounds so much more Southern and gentile, no?). Lagoons, canals, creeks, and other waterways criss-cross the resident clusters, golf courses and clubhouses. One evening, my daughter snapped some photos of a couple of local birds, a cormorant and a blue heron, perching stealthily in the trees at sunset along one of these waterways not far from my mother’s condo.
Palmetto Dunes also boasts its own beachfront, a fine lengthy stretch of uninterrupted sand which is a perfect place to watch the sun rise. If you can get yourself out of bed early enough, which I finally did the very last day we were there, the day after Christmas. After the bustle and over-stimulation of Christmas, a tranquil moment on the beach was the best present of all.
Goodbye, ocean, you king of all water features. I know that, despite everything, you will always be there for me as a touchstone, whether in the SC low country or elsewhere around the world.
Happy 2018. Enjoy the water features in your own lives in the new year.