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Only on Hilton Head: Is the sound of leaf blowers the sound of freedom?

At this time of year, some of us on Hilton Head have a routine.

We sit dreamily in our Carolina rooms and screened porches, cup of coffee in hand, and look out at native wax myrtle trees, live oaks, tall pines, and bare cypress branches. Some of us may even wonder idly if the explosion of fall colors splashing their way across the Northeast is preferable to our tranquil green and Spanish Moss-draped trees. (It's not, by the way).

Maybe we even exchange smart phone photos with friends in the Northeast -- you know, our gray-bearded live oaks for their flaming red maple.

Part of this routine involves the quiet. The few sounds we hear are comforting and minimalist, birds, soft voices drifting across golf courses, the gentle touch and tinkle of windchimes.

And, of course, the roar of a freight train as it barrels up the porch steps, screams across the deck and threatens to join us for coffee.

But, no, wait a second.

That's no train.

It's a man with a leaf-blowing machine clearing the walkways and driveways at the crack of 8 a.m.

What a relief.

For a moment, I though the island had built a switching yard I didn't know about.

But, no. It's just a guy clearing away the dead leaves. Now we can go back to our peaceful musings in our Carolina rooms and taking smart phone pictures.

Just as we were about to complain about the leaf blowing racket comes, via Facebook, an update from our long-lost neighbors and best, old friends, Richard and Lainie Crose. (Some of you may remember Richard, Hilton Head Prep Class of 1987, whose family started the best store for preppy clothes, Knickers, in Harbourtown and later in Shelter Cove. They carried Ralph Lauren here before anyone knew what a polo pony was.)

They live in Memphis now and the picture with their post is enough to make you stop in your tracks and shout, "Whoa, where's the leaf blower!?

While we were laying about on our sofas and whicker chairs and musing and complaining about the leaf-blower noise, Richard was spending his Sunday raking and bagging leaves, at least a half ton of them from the looks of the photo. Lanie and the kids, he says, had made themselves scarce.

So the next time you're tempted to rag on the roar of the leaf blower, remember this -- you're not raking leaves in Memphis.

That should make the blower noise a bit more bearable.



Did you say something?!

I can't hear a thing over the leaf blower.

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