For when the sun calls, my soul responds.
And the sky. The sky was …
A perfect blue.
The kind of blue I dream in.
I’ve walked those docks a million times. They were an extension of home. In fact, during the stifling months of summer, I often spent more time there, at the ocean’s edge, than I did inside our four humble walls on Indian Trail. I grew up living a life others envy. An island girl with a captain for a dad. And today, as I visited this truly, enchanting place, the nethermost regions of my soul came alive.
As soon as I placed one foot on the deck, my body instinctively knew how to respond to the gentle rocking of boat in water as waves lapped against the hull. I was like a baby in a cradle. Fitting, seeing that as a baby, my mother would put me in the cradle she kept in the engine room while she and my dad greeted tourists and showed them the dream world we lived in. And there I would sleep, rocking back and forth, back and forth, as we cruised down the sound. To this day, there is nothing, not even a Zambian, that can carry me off to golden slumbers like the roar of those Twin Cummins NT8 55 diesel engines.
And so the tour begins …
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and welcome aboard the Holiday. She is safe, sturdy and comfortable, so everyone please sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise. We’re certainly glad everyone could join us for today’s dolphin watch nature tour. I’d like to introduce your crew to you, my name is Captain Mark of Hilton Head Island …”
My sisters and I have Dad’s entire narration memorized by heart. We recite it sometimes, and laugh at its predictability. But sometimes, when I am alone in the desert I now call home, I recite it just so I don’t feel so far away. I recite it so I don’t forget where I come from. So I don’t forget the things I know.
For because of this childhood education, between shrimp boats and slip knots, I can point out a great blue heron, a snowy egret, and a white ibis. I know the average wingspan of a brown pelican and can tell whether the tide is ebbing or flooding. I know when to harvest oysters and can cast a shrimp net with ease. I know how to catch crabs, sand dollars, and starfish. I know my port from my starboard and my bow from my stern. I know which “rope” is the spring line and how many species of shark live in our waters. I know how many acres of saltwater marshes exist in South Carolina and no matter how many times I’ve seen a dolphin surface, I’m always filled with scintillating awe.
After two hours cruising the creek and searching the sound, it was over. All too soon.
In so many ways, my day on the water in this land of perfect charm was … perfect.
It did me good to drink the sun and fill my belly with the lowcountry.
And it does me good to share with you this place from which I come.
Perhaps I’ll share more tomorow. Yes, quite.
(Shelter Cove Harbour, Hilton Head Island)