A hopeful winter thought: people somewhere are drinking outdoors again already

I wrote a story this week last year about how the first signs of summer already start to peak their heads out this time of year on Hilton Head. A year later, it’s snowing in New York City and so many people have flu it feels like the first act of a friggin zombie movie. And the beach bar mentioned below just opened again for the season the other day.

I still don’t regret the move in the least. And for a kid with summer breeze in the veins like me, that’s saying a lot.

Tiki Hut reopens… and it sure feels like summer

Published Saturday, February 16, 2008

photo by Jay Karr/Island Packet

photo by Jay Karr/Island Packet

Maybe it’s the eternal optimism of the school child, or the sun-loving hubris of South Carolinians who refuse to take their beers or brunches indoors even in the dead of winter.

But there’s something about this time of year, an ephemeral quality that’s hard to nail down, that causes people to start shaking out their patio umbrellas and dusting off their beach chairs as summer on Hilton Head Island comes to life.

People in other parts of the country are still crowding around living room fireplaces and digging out from harsh winter snowfalls. Not here, where the most nascent signs of the season debut this week.

Planning for the island’s big spring events is well underway by now and a handful of restaurants that closed for the (albeit short) winter season reopened over the past few days. [MORE]

I used that word “hubris” on purpose, and I wasn’t being in the least bit pejorative. One of my favorite qualities about coastal South Carolina was its absolute stubborn refusal to cede the outdoors to the changing of the seasons, even when the paltry feint of winter rattled the windows. Everyone kind of looked at the weather in January and February, said “fuck it, you’re not the boss of me,” and went outside anyway. This is why propane-powered heat lamps were invented, why I stood in a light jacket drinking a beer at an outdoor oyster roast while watching through the window of a bar the Packers and Seahawks battle it out in a snowstorm so violent it looked like the TV was covered with static, and it’s why the island’s most-popular brunch spot used space heaters, plastic guards on the patio railing and even blankets left on chairs for customers to reclaim the use of its outdoor seating when that other, non-summer season was around.

The other environmental hubris I’ve noticed is in the arid California desert near Palm Springs, where civilization has been forced to pipe in water from afar to exist in a place probably not really meant for human habitation. That one makes me less happy. But I do not know what their brunches are like out there (save for the date shakes).

Still, only 122 days until summer. Not that I’m counting. Except I am.

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