Wednesday, August 12, 2015


The Dunes at Jekyll Island
LAST WEEK I WROTE ABOUT MY SOJOURN IN NORTHERN GEORGIA, but after a very nice evening in LaFayette with my friend, Emily's brother, David, I turned my little car south once again and drove all the way down to Valdosta in the southern end of the state. I came down out of the mountains to a familiar flatness, but I also saw for myself what they mean when they talk about the red clay of Georgia. Another difference from my beloved Prairie was that I started seeing palm trees and palmetto bushes. I arrived in Valdosta and saw my dear Emily, and we picked up right where we left off. I had seen her up in Chicago a few times, when she was at a conference, but my old office mate has been gone for nine years, and this was my first visit to her new home.

Flowers Bloom in Salty Sand

We caught up, and then Em's husband, Gardner, came home and fixed us a delicious shrimp dinner, and the next morning I was back in the car to visit Jekyll Island. I told Emily I didn't mind the drive as long as I got to be the passenger for a while. It was a three hour trip, but very relaxing on a small highway with little traffic. We passed through little towns and stopped for lunch at one of them.
Jekyll Island is a state park, and though it does have some development, it is limited and tasteful. They do have a little shopping district with some high end shops, but they were mostly under construction. I didn't see any chain stores or restaurants.
But the real attraction for us was the beach. The beach was so clean and the sand so soft. I spent some time on the Jersey shore and remember the sand there as being much more coarse, and of course, lots of garbage washed up on the beach. Here we didn't see much of anything washed up—only a few small shells here and there, maybe a piece of driftwood. Certainly no garbage. At one point we approached something large. It looked like a black helmet from a distance, but when we got up close we discovered it was the shell of a horseshoe crab—the biggest one I've ever seen.
The color palate was soothing--just the blue, blue sky and white clouds and the sea a little blue-grey. There were some sea grasses and a few flowers and palm trees in the dunes, and fences, like our snow fences, against erosion.
Fences Protect the Dunes from Erosion
 We went in the water and it was perfect—just cool enough to be refreshing, the pull of the surf just enough to let me do my old lady side stroke without really going anywhere. We got into a rhythm of swimming, then walking along the beach until we were hot again and needed to swim some more to cool off. It was lovely, but finally we had to admit that we couldn't simply stay on the beach forever, and so we went to find some supper. We crossed back to the mainland and found a seafood restaurant where we split a plate of shrimp and then each had flounder stuffed with crab meat. I'm afraid I indulged quite a lot in the hushpuppies, since I don't often get them up north. 

We stayed overnight off the island and returned the next day for more beach and to see the sea turtles. Jekyll Island is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which is a museum and hospital for injured sea turtles. The hospital had lots of swimming pools with injured turtles, some the size of a manhole cover, some as large as my dining room table. They had mirrors above the pools so we could see the turtles swim as they gain strength. Some turtles were there because of an imbalance—weighed down by so many barnacles they had a hard time surfacing; some had been clipped by a boat. The hospital can even help a turtle with a broken shell by packing its wound with honey and keeping it safe while it heals. They rehabilitate turtles and releases them back into the wild. This is important work since very few turtles survive to adulthood even under the best of circumstances.
Dinner at the Seafood Restaurant

Outside of the hospital was a pen with young box turtles, which reminded me of my childhood pet, a box turtle, with the highly original name of “Myrtle.” We watched the turtles a while and then went back to the beach for another lovely day in the sun and sand.

Bask in Beauty; Heal in Peace; Blessed Be.

No comments:

Post a Comment