Take a moment to listen to my reading aloud of William Bartram’s Words, from William Bartram’s Travels.
Listen for a moment, of William Bartram’s description of the barrier islands of Georgia:
Ahh, the coast. There is something primal about walking along the surf, with its constant incoming and receding waves. I enter a different frame of mind after just a few moments on the beach, a timelessness surrounds me. Perhaps especially on St. Simons Island, an island I have been visiting since I was a small child, I enter into that timelessness. My mother grew up there, and I spent endless summer days there as a child. My babysitter on St. Simons had some disease where she refused to leave the island, which made perfect sense to me.
Like drops of rain, flowing to the ocean…
So goes the refrain of a Wiccan chant I learned on the streets with my activist friends.
“We all come from the Goddess,
And to her we will return,
Like drops of rain,
Flowing to the ocean.”Dauphin Island by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints.
Sea and Sky….
How fascinating it must have been to walk over the dunes, or sand hills as Bartram called them, to end up on the “paved shelly” beach. Before the dunes had been disturbed by the settlers, before they were logged and boardwalks built. And to sit there, surrounded by the primeval beauty of the ocean and the beach and the sand hills, and contemplate life. Time must have moved so much more slowly then, it seems to race on now, even when I am on the beach half my mind is on to the next thing, and the next.Sand Dunes by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints.
I do not know about the fisheries around these islands…
But I do know that the birds abound. Both me and the mergansers like to spend January on the barrier islands, I think they stay longer than I do. Every year I visit my grandparents to do a January Christmas and celebrate my grandmother’s birthday with her. And when we walk along the bays and lagoons that Bartram wrote about, we see the mergansers.Mergansers by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints
Even on the marsh, the beauty is haunting…
I don’t have to visit the beach to be caught up in the timelessness of life on Georgia’s barrier islands. Just a few days on Skidaway, surrounded on all sides by rivers and marshes, will do.Palm Sunset on Lagoon by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints
The cypress trunks beneath the marshes…
That last bit Bartram mentioned, that when the settlers dug into the marshes for their plantings and so forth, they dug but a little before they hit cypress trunks, standing so close together as they now do on the river swamps inshore.Cypress Trees Standing Close Together by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints.
Its hard to imagine that the image above became the image below….Marshes in August by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints.
If you aren’t living on the edge, then you’re taking up space!
So says Mae West. The marshes are on the edge of ecosystems. The ecosystem of the open sea and the ecosystem of the mainland, of terra-firma, are separated by these marshes. The original settlers called them savannahs. Where two ecosystems meet is an area of richness, of much life. Perhaps that is why I periodically need to visit the coast, to refill my cup with the richness of life that is there. Because, while my cup may sometimes be half empty, and other times half full, it is always, always refillable, and being on the coast refills my soul.Savannah Possible Perception 6036 by Beth Thompson Click on the image to order prints *Opening stanza from “The Slacks” by Trip Shakespeare.