Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Gift from the Sea

Sunset at the marina

Most people have heard of Hilton Head, but not many who live west of the Mississippi know about Fripp Island, SC. Less than 60 miles apart, the two resort destinations afford beachcombers alternative experiences. 

Fripp Island is only 3-miles long, but the beach at the center of the island stretches to fill the horizon. As Anne Shirley would say, much scope for the imagination. 

Portions of the movies Forrest Gump and The Prince of Tides were filmed on Fripp Island, but we first learned about Fripp through friends who live in Atlanta. 

Though both Hilton Head and Fripp have premier golf courses, the private access to Fripp Island provides a less commercial setting than nearby resorts. Because amenity cards are required to use any of the island services, arrangements to stay on Fripp can be made through VRBO. No food or gas or rentals or golf or even souvenirs without an amenity card. No, no, not one.

South Carolina is a long way from Texas, but after our nephews wedding in Savannah, GA, my husband I spent 4 days at Fripp. We arrived just before high season: no heat, no bugs and practically no people. Aaah. 

From the condo where my husband and I stayed, it looked like we were on board a cruise ship, steady and without the rocking or sea-sickness. This corner unit's living area had windows that faced both east and south so that the expansive view we saw each day filled my camera lens. I took this picture at sunrise.

At low tide, the beach below our condo grew from a few feet to include sandbars extending far out to sea, the length of several football fields end over end. Astonishing.

On our last day, this particular shell came to rest unbroken a couple of hundred yards from the shore, my own gift from the sea. Until then, I had collected a variety of shells at what's called the trash line, where waves deposit pieces of shells.

Unbeknown to us at the time, we brought home a hitch-hiker; a hermit crab inhabited one of the smaller shells. This creature rocked back and forth on the kitchen counter, making a click-clacking sound we finally traced. We named him Pedro, after the turkey in Giant, but unfortunately after a few weeks, he met the same fate as the turkey.

Moonshells, lots of them, and what variety. In one chapter of Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, she wrote:

This is a snail shell, round, full and glossy as a horse chestnut. Comfortable and compact, it sits curled up like a cat in the hollow of my hand … On its smooth symmetrical face is penciled with precision a perfect spiral, winding inward to the pinpoint center of the shell, the tiny dark core of the apex, the pupil of the eye. It stares at me, this mysterious single eye––and I stare back …

I read this compact but insightful book each year even though I seldom get to visit a beach. The moon shell chapter explores every woman's need for solitude as a source of renewal. Like AML, memories made at the beach reinforce my resolutions to live a simpler life, the life I envision when I get away from my regular routine.

Yes, the beach renews because, "Time wasted at the beach is not time wasted."