The Gullah friends whose families were here long before us had a rich language they created themselves. The West African take on English has a charm and precision all its own, and one of our favorite Gullah terms is “peruse.”

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

An English dictionary will tell you that peruse means two paradoxically different things: to read carefully and to scan lightly.

In Gullah, the word suffers no such confusion. Peruse means a particular pace of walking. Easy, unhurried, and yet taking in the surroundings with appreciation and enjoyment. That meaning of “peruse” comes in handy for describing how people enjoy one kind of visit to The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Surely you can get the things you need for the week efficiently and effectively here, but just as often, people like to take their time.

A Scene for Enjoyment

Putting in the spring flower beds around the plaza within The Shops at Sea Pines Center a few weeks ago, we were reminded of all the other facets of this oasis that make it such a warm, inviting place. The palms, the chin-tall planters, the umbrella-crowned tables and chairs, and the park-like benches each play their part in an all-embracing feeling of welcome.

It’s not just the sight of the fountains and waterfalls that beckon for a closer look. The sound of water itself reaches even farther, around corners and beyond sightlines, to soothe the senses as we peruse the plaza.

You Have to Feel It

It is a lot easier to feel than to describe. To peruse your way down an oak-shaded path, to breathe in the fragrance of the spring, to think your own thoughts for a lovely little while – that’s the Gullah meaning for peruse.

We know a drummer who says he never could count the beat to reggae music until he saw how people walk in the Caribbean. That easy, yet clear tempo, the little hiccup in the middle of a measure that says we’re not in a hurry here – that is not something you can read on a page of music. You must see and sense and feel the pace, the frame of mind that results in that rhythm. It’s somewhat the same with “peruse.”

The Freedom Found in Balance

Does this mean that things always move slowly among The Shops at Sea Pines Center? Hardly. There’s so much evidence that convenience and efficiency were built in from the very first. We’re right in the middle of the original resort design, on the way to everything. There’s a gas station. Here’s a post office.

Here you have the choice. A quick stop to pick up something you need, a short bit of exploring to narrow down what you want, or a casual bit of browsing – a latter-day experiment in perusing – to see what inspirations might occur. All are provided for. All are encouraged by the very atmosphere we find at The Center.

And something more, too. There are ways of knowing in a calm community such as Sea Pines. Not everything is broadcast. Some of the best things to know come up at a farmers’ market, or when you encounter a neighbor in the plaza, or when you see something that reminds you of a friend you want to call. These are the little events for which The Shops at Sea Pines Center sets the scene.