We’ve just gotten back from our summer trip to my hometown. It was a good opportunity to see a few old friends and to catch up with family. Our visit culminated in a trip to the beach in South Carolina with my mom, brothers and assorted cousins. We were fortunate to have sunny skies and moderate temperatures (for South Carolina in August!). We were also treated to a beach renewal. Right in front of our house.
Our house was on the beach. We were supposed to be able to walk out the door, across the wooden boardwalk, onto the beach. And technically we could. But we had to hang an immediate left and walk around the orange plastic webbing that surrounded the construction area until we came to a free spot. Admittedly it wasn’t far for us as we were the last house in the way of the renewal. However it was noisy. Which is saying something because my family is a noisy bunch.
A couple years ago we had t-shirts printed for a family reunion, included was the phrase: We do LOUD, really well. This year all our training in this area was called into practice in order to carry on conversations outside or on the beach while the bulldozers performed their ballet into the surf, pushing sand up the beach, pirouetting backwards and forwards over the sand to the accompaniment of beeping and general heavy equipment noise. It was rather fascinating to watch, I confess. But it went on for the first two or three days nonstop. All day and all night. And it made the house shake. An official told us later that there are vibration norms that have to be respected and the workers were well below this level. Good thing.
When the last bulldozer was done, the Moving of the Pipes began. Huge rusty pipes each weighing a ton were delicately picked up by four-fingered machines that gracefully wiggled and squirmed in order to put the pipes (used for dredging) in a neat pyramid right in front of our house. Then these pipes were picked up again, put on a truck and moved down to the other end of the beach. This was usually done at night and we’d be surprised by giant insect-like eyes glaring at us – seemingly right outside our windows – as the machines manoeuvred to pick up the pipes.
The amazing thing is that through all this upheaval and turmoil, life went on. Signs everywhere reminded you to turn off lights after 10:00 so as not to disturb sea turtle hatchlings, but surely with all the lights and noise and dug up beaches, any eggs that had managed to be laid would be lost. Not so! The Turtle Patrol said it was a bumper year for nests and we even got to see some baby turtles making their way to the sea! And when those great big glaring machines rolled down the beach after dark and came upon passing turtles – they stopped and waited patiently for the babies to pass.