'Yesterday, it was like fire on glass," says Mary Etta of the sunrise we missed. We had missed them all. We joked that Lynne and I were frequently heading to bed just about the time Mary and Mary Etta were getting up.
This early morning there is no sun to see. Dark, gray-blue clouds hover near the horizon. The surf is churning almost under the cabin, foamy whitecaps swirling in all directions. A strong, gusty breeze has set the wind chimes in chaotic and clamorous motion, and the palm trees are rustling and clapping in response. I'm sitting wrapped in a blanket. A fire spits sparks in the fireplace, and the smell of corn-and-apple fritters wafts in my direction. It is a smorgasbord for the senses, and I can't remember when I ever felt so peaceful.
"It was a week," I say to myself, lamenting that in a couple of hours we will be headed off of Hunting Island, South Carolina, and back home. It was the first of what would become an annual celebration of friendship. The dolphins had danced for us. Pelicans had swooped into the lagoon across the way, while raccoons were up to mischief in the driveway.
Deer were our guardian angels. They quietly ate the corn and leftovers we put outside for them, remaining calm under our gaze. Seven of them emerged noiselessly from the woods at twilight one night-seven sets of tall ears against a bright scarlet sky.
Beyond our gaze, island creatures had fallen into a February rhythm. Hibernating alligators, dug deep into the mud, listened to their hearts beat once every seven minutes. Loggerhead turtles rested up for spring, when thousands of their young would hatch and move toward water, guided by the light of the horizon. The babies would all emerge within 24 hours of one another and help each other along, but still only two or three out of every thousand would survive.