You see a painting of a St. Simons Island marsh and your senses are awakened to all that surrounds you. Sidney Lanier’s poetry glides effortlessly through your mind. The ocean air becomes a pungent mixture of seawater and new milk. You slap at a mosquito that is curiously, not there. While gazing at the marsh, a breeze caresses your skin to bring you intimately in the moment on St. Simons Island.
You are a child playing in the water on East Beach on a hot July afternoon. You wade out up to your knees and feel the warmth of the ocean spatter-paint your legs with salt. Your toes curl under into the sand as the next wave pushes ever closer. You cup your two small hands together, scooping up water to splash on your legs. You draw in a breath of alarm as something alive scurries over your tiny feet. Something, that curiously is not there.
You are in the moment on St. Simons Island.
Outside Christ Church, you stand with the artist in old St. Augustine grass damp now with dew. The antiquity of this holy place, tightly bound with souls of the faithful departed, seeps into the very marrow of your bones. Christ Church is hallowed ground. You close your eyes and history surrounds you. You feel the embodiment of those who have walked in this same deep-rooted grass long before you were born.
Anchored off-shore in a small boat, you are immersed in the silent world of the sea. You listen to the sails gently flapping in the wind and you hear the mirth of porpoises at play. Beyond the buttress of rocks, you see the St. Simons Lighthouse, the brick cottage, the white gazebo. Soft strains of past summer concerts by the sea float melodically through the air. You hear yourself humming in this moment on St. Simons Island.
You are crabbing under a bridge using chunks of leftover ham as bait. Surrounded by your children or grandchildren, you hear, I caught one! followed by squeals of happy laughter. You smile at the conquest and recall the exquisite taste of blue crab meat and you wonder who will have the honor of picking the blue crab bounty.
You hear a Black Grackle call Uh Oh as you stroll the footpaths at Fort Frederica and watch small children climb on top of cannons that once protected this island. A woman wearing a baseball cap snaps a photo with a state of the art digital camera, but the picture you see is not the one she takes. Yours is one of General Oglethorpe giving the order to “FIRE!” You see a young soldier light the fuse and you smell the kerosene-soaked torch in his hand. You hear the cannon roar and you are swallowed up in the past during this moment on St. Simons Island.
You are playing golf at Retreat, walking on the velvet green carpet that rolls over and under itself. Mullet jump high in the air at your approach. An alligator slips quietly into the water, the sun bounces off your nine-iron as though sending a message from above.
Strolling peacefully through the Avenue of the Oaks, you resist an urge to climb one of the ancient trees and hang upside down by your knees. You feel the curly, parasitic strands of grey moss that drape and droop from its fat limbs. You step back in time and hear the approach of a horse and buggy as it travels down the historic Avenue of Oaks.
When your fingers reach out to touch what is left of the Tabby Ruins at Retreat Plantation, you are mindful of the passage of time, the struggle for survival, the life force of endurance. The amplitude of being in the moment on St. Simons Island is breathtaking.
Now it is nightfall and the sun has surrendered its hold on the island for another day. From where you stand, you catch the yellow hues glowing through the windows of Lovely Lane Chapel. Inner warmth cradles you, inviting you to surrender your dark nights of sadness so that you can begin again tomorrow.
Moments spent on St. Simons Island means your life will never be the same again.