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Only on Hilton Head: Island's beauty is a moveable feast

The Twin Oaks Villas Live Oak on Plantation Drive in Sea Pines never changes color but is always glorious.
The Twin Oaks Villas Live Oak on Plantation Drive in Sea Pines never changes color but is always glorious. SPECIAL TO THE ISLAND PACKET/THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE

Nothing amplifies your love for Hilton Head Island quite like being away from it.

You carry it with you wherever you go.

It followed me to Providence, R.I., last week. Providence has been my home away from home for about fifteen years, and my husband's home turf for over sixty five. We have deep roots there, and deeper friendships.

It has much to love.

It is a well-preserved, well-developed city that boasts a strong beautification program, thriving businesses and neighborhoods, and an incredibly well-structured university atmosphere. Its skyscape is decorated with antiquated, yet carefully maintained colonial architecture, balanced with modern aesthetics.

A top-notch Ivy League school is located there -- Brown University, my alma mater -- as is the number one art school in the nation, Rhode Island School of Design.

This trip, I spent several mornings trying to track down the daughter of a Sea Pines Academy alum at Brown, who's mother was in my class at what is now Hilton Head Prep. Hopefully, we will have met by the time you read this.

As we were driving through College Hill, I took videos of myriad colors of the leaves hanging over the roads. I was awestruck.

I've had a similar feeling when I drive down Plantation Drive in Sea Pines when the sun rains its beams down and dappled shadows dance through the live oak leaves and Spanish Moss. The scene forces me to drive the speed limit so I don't miss any thing.

This has long been my favorite road in the world. I have even taken a postcard of Plantation Drive and sent it to friends in other parts of the world. It is a constant reminder of the beauty of where I grew up.

Some of us may lament the loss of the seasonal colors we gave up when we moved South.

But, when it comes down to it, most of us wouldn't give up our island home, despite it's lack of bright, fall colors and occasional torrential temper tantrums.

Like I said, we carry it with us where ever we go.

Carmen Hawkins De Cecco lives on Hilton Head Island. She blogs at