A lesson from the wind, tide, and a bicycle ride

An issue

Currently, I’m staying on Hilton Head, South Carolina USA. This lovely shoe-shaped island has been my muse while I completed my recent novel.

After all the intense work, it has been hard to wind down.

The fix?

My husband suggested a bike ride. Perfect, thinks I. Now, I’m the sort of person, who likes to know where they are going. I requested the route on the map. But my husband, who is a go with the flow fellow, said, ‘Let’s cycle up the beach then head inland.’

Executing the plan

We have fixed gear bikes, perfect for cycling on the beach. We pushed our bikes along the board walk, then over the soft sand. The wet sand near the receding sea line was   easier to peddle over.

After a mile or so, we met with an estuary, where an inland lake drains into the sea. Not that wide and the tide was going out. We had crossed it before, walking ankle deep. But the tide must have been higher, this day.

The issue

Removing our footwear, Graham went first, being tall. He picked up his bike and endeavoured to paddle the stream crossing the beach. He was soon up to his knees.


On returning to me, Graham suggests we wait a while for the tide to recede.


My reaction bemused me. I began to feel anxious and suggested we return to the road. The wind had got up, and was blowing fine sand across the still-moist shoreline. But Graham was happy to wait. ‘We are in no rush and there is plenty of time to enjoy the view,’ he commented, pointing to the many wading birds on the shore, feeding.

A lesson in the dune

Locking the bikes we each chose our waiting position. I decided to retreat to the dunes to get out of the sand blasting wind. Graham stood stoically on the shore in meditation. The dune proved warm, sheltered from the wind. Using my backpack as a pillow I laid down on the sand. I examined my feeling of stress and tried to relax. The wind toyed with the dune grass, causing it to stir and rustle. I could see the bent over grass blades, draw patterns in the sand. New grass shoots were peeking through the shifting sand. Life – even in this hostile environment. The sand sparkled as if strew with tiny diamonds. In the warming sun, I began to relax. Handfuls of sand slipping through my fingers, reminded me of  how brief and precious, life is. The wind filled with sand, whistling over the top of the dune, reminded me, life can be harsh at times.  But, look and you will find shelter. Most of all, I felt the importance of savouring the journey.

My task (publishing my book) is completed. Now, I have time to focus on other things and enjoy my surroundings. Graham returned with shells he had found, a lover’s gift, for he sensed my stress. Suddenly sirens blare and alarm rises as we saw the coast guard arrive. We followed the line of view of their binoculars. Some kayakers were unable to return to land. The off-shore wind was too strong to paddle against. We watched their rescue with relief.


Finally, we could attempt to cross the stream. A father and son having crossed show us the way. I paused to watch the many birds. Long- beaked Ibis, sifted the wash sands; little Plovers ran between the waves; Terns circled on the wing, cranking their necks to spot food in the shallows; Pelicans flew in formation, all a magical sight. We continued on the other side of the stream. As we’ve rounded a headland the wind was less boisterous. The ride continued with wonder: the sparkle of the sea, the many birds, shells and natural patterns on the beach. We left the beach through dappled woodland. Our  pine-scented return home, was via the local brew house for a well-earned pint to wash the sand out of mouths.





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