It was time for a different kind of respite from the enforced respite we’ve been experiencing since March.

We spent the last week at Edisto.

When our kids were little, we went to Edisto only a couple of times. But in the last eight years we’ve fallen into a habit of an annual trek to Edisto.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that we gravitated to Edisto in large measure because there is so little to do. When Tom and I were still working at “real” jobs, our annual week at Edisto became the one time that we could truly relax. For me, even working for a small weekly newspaper like The Star meant I was really working pretty much all the time. There was hardly ever a time when I could put the newspaper out of my mind. And even though I was at Edisto, I still had to stay tuned to what would go in the newspaper the next week. The only advantage was that, during our beach week, I could only do things for the paper that I could accomplish through phone calls, assignments to The Star reporter and through contact over the internet.

Now, the pressure is different. My biggest worry is always that my kids and grandkids won’t have a good time. For the last several years most of the Britt clan – our three children and (now) seven grandchildren – has managed to gather at Edisto for the week. And we’ve all gotten together under the same roof.

This year was a little different. Our son, Mac, and his family opted out at the last minute. Daughter-in-law Joy is a nurse practitioner and continues to worry about inadvertently exposing her kids to COVID-19 and, in turn, exposing all of us to Coronavirus. So they stayed home.

And since we had extra space as a result, we agreed for grandchildren Cade and Payton to each bring a friend. That meant we had six adults and six kids. (My friend Susan had planned to come for a couple of days, but she ended up with one of her granddaughters, so she, too, stayed home.)

I will say that the current pandemic has altered life everywhere. The only grocery store on the island has continued with very strict rules – someone stands outside, cleans carts and keeps track of how many individuals go into the store, since the limit is 38. If you’ve ever been to Edisto, you’re aware that on a normal check-in day (Saturday or Sunday), the grocery store is jam-packed, so the strict rules were a welcome surprise. Of course, in South Carolina masks are now supposed to be required, and grocery store patrons seemed to be adhering to that. However, I also stopped into one of the shops that sell beach gear, and I was amazed at how many people were not wearing a mask.

But other than the few ventures into the limited number of shops on Edisto, I could put the worry of the pandemic aside for a week.

Pretty much the only people I saw were family.

It was our first venture in renting a house through VRBO.com, and I think we may try that again. Tom had a little trepidation at first because we wouldn’t have a local realty office or rental manager nearby to call if there were a problem; however, as it turned out, the home was owned by someone in Augusta who was very attentive to any issues we had.

It was a six-bedroom house that even had an elevator – what an advantage that is when you’re lugging everything but the kitchen sink into your house for a week. We decided this was the time to try and bring as much of everything we’d needed so we’ d rarely need to be in close proximity to anyone other than family. We may have overdone that aspect of our week. By the time we all arrived, there was no room for any more food in the fridge or freezer.

We were just settling in when the smoke alarm went off – the first test of having no local person to contact. But with the first problem, the owner responded immediately and sent her son, who was staying at Edisto in the house right next door. He thought he had solved the problem – a faulty smoke alarm – right away, but it took two more trips (plus about seven more alarms going off) and his taking all the smoke detectors with him to try to find the culprit. He then returned the next day with the smoke detectors, reinstalled them and, pointing out one of the detectors, he said, “I think I’ve got it, but if this one (apparently the previously faulty detector) goes off again, just disconnect it and throw the darn thing away.” Luckily, there were no more unnecessary alarms.

Within two days we were reminded exactly what being blonde and blue-eyed means at the beach (as many of us are) – sunburn. Though we slathered all the kids with sunscreen at every outing, several ended Sunday with big red splotches under each eye. We’ve decided as convenient as they are, the stick-type sunblock (made like deodorant) is not as good at its job as old-fashioned cream. (If anyone knows of a good one, please let me know.)

But the beach quickly had its magic effect – very little time in front of the TV or computer, lots of good seafood to eat, plenty of time to walk the beach, plenty of time to think, plenty of time to get reacquainted with my daughters and what’s going on in their lives during this crazy time and plenty of time to interact with grandchildren who are growing up way too fast.

So I have returned to the philosophy I read in a newspaper many years ago. Once when our bridge group was enjoying that annual beach weekend, the Post and Courier did a Lifestyles “story” on the front page of that section of the paper that said simply, “Do nothing!” And to prove the point, there was absolutely nothing else on the page. If you know anything about newspapers, it was astonishing to see that much “whitespace” (read that not an ad, which would have cost big bucks) dedicated to no words. We taped the page over the TV that year.

At Edisto doing nothing is easy.