September 1, 2012

Fall Challenge Week One: Chocolates By the Sea

Friends, it is here! I've been thinking about the Fall Challenge for about a week now. I had visions of writing preparatory posts and taking tons of pictures in advance, ready to churn out post after post of ripe, beautiful content.

Well, life sort of got in the way. And now, suddenly, I find myself in lush, Spanish moss-covered Hilton Head Island, eating chocolates and drinking red wine, recovering from a six-mile run through the thickest humid air I believe I've ever experienced, exhausted from a powerful' long week, and finally - finally - reveling in the first weekend of college football.

September, as I discovered after I established the Fall Challenge, is national Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. Back in March, the White House slated September as Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to celebrate fundraising efforts for childhood cancer and to raise awareness for these often-ignored childhood diseases. Efforts to raise awareness for these diseases have been in place on the national scale for over twenty years, but each year brings a new commitment by government and community alike. What a perfect day to start a blogging challenge in tandem with Chapel Hill's Get Heeled race! Throughout September, I will seek to tie in food narratives with childhood cancer awareness, in hopes of raising support for this outstanding charity opportunity in my community.

Thinking about food narratives as running parallel to community charity causes has been sometimes easy, more often challenging. Naturally, I'd want to write only about healthy living - low-calorie this and low-fat that. But I'd rather write about living as both body and spirit: the enjoyment of things like wine and chocolate after dinner, the celebration of a day well spent and six miles completely run some fifteen hours ago. So tonight, in the spirit of such soulful life enjoyments, I give you an absolute gem of a store on Hilton Head Island, Chocolates By the Sea.

Chocolates By the Sea is a tiny, bright shop nestled in a strip of stores just outside the Sea Pines gates in Hilton Head. The owner, Paula, is a Bostonian and one of the island's most reliable small business owners. And her dedication shows: row upon row of chocolate and caramel varieties, creams and jellies, peanut clusters, mint chocolate bark, handmade buckeyes, sea salt caramels, all varieties of toffee. Aside from the traditional chocolate fare - and in an effort to cater to the island's love of golf and dogs - molds of golf balls, carts, clubs, and dogs of all varieties may be bought as gifts, carefully wrapped, pristinely molded, but still with the feel of island locality.

We bought boxes of these chocolates, in a variety of shapes and concoctions, and had them after dinner with red wine and college football. An unlikely combination, to be sure, but life is full of these things. Early this morning, as I struggled through the curtain of thick South Carolina air that met me on my run, all I could think of was making it through those six miles upright. And here I am at the end of the day, eating chocolates from Chocolates By the Sea. I'm not sure what kind of life metaphor I can draw from this other than the balanced goodness of health and spirit, life enjoyed with friends, loved ones, and, of course, chocolate.

The scale will tell me otherwise next week.

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