The pace of our plaza, here in the middle of The Shops at Sea Pines Center, is part of what makes it feel like an oasis.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Sure, the shade, the palm trees, the tawny walls, and the bright contrast between sun and shadow make it lovely to behold, especially as the day moves forward and the light begins to soften. But there’s more to the plaza than good looks. Altogether, it is a scene that relaxes, encourages folks to pause and enjoy. Some folks we know have a perfect word for it.

The people who came before us, here on America’s favorite island, had a language that was protected for generations. It took a boat to get here until the first bridge went up in 1956. Most people didn’t bother with that, and so the Gullah families of Hilton Head Island continued to converse in a combination of West African patterns and English words that bear their name, Gullah, or is sometimes called Sea Island Creole.

The blend is musical. The phrasing and choice of words reflects a life that respects human nature, as well as the surprises of the surrounding shores. Gullah bears a strong connection with Krio, the language spoken in Sierra Leone. Its English vocabulary stems from people drawn together by fortune who find a way to communicate.

Often the difference between Gullah and ordinary English is not so much the words, but the way the words are used. One of our favorite examples is the meaning that Gullah gives to “peruse.”

The Air and the Ambling Pace

The moisture-laden breeze of the sea islands and the long summer days that take their time heating up arrive together in such a way as to make hurrying unwise. A way of walking, in an environment like this one, is deliberate but mellow, attentive but nonchalant, cool and casual. Gullah friends call that perusing.

Strictly speaking, peruse means to read with thoroughness and care. Strangely, it also means to scan or browse casually. This paradox in “proper” English – being pressed into service to mean seemingly opposite things – is not a problem Gullah puts up with. If you peruse the plaza of The Shops at Sea Pines Center, then it means you are walking in a way that fits the place, the time, the temperature, and the feeling.

Endless Discoveries

We never run out of new things to learn, here on Hilton Head Island. The cultures that contribute to our way of life are so rich as to defy any simple explanation. Perusing is the right pace at which to regard them. We don’t want to hurry. And we don’t want to miss a thing.

If one of the things we can offer you, here in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, is a first-hand experience of this magical pace, then that would please us very much indeed. Please join us here, won’t you?