"It seems like a fairy tale...I will be happy to join."
said Henry Baldwin Hyde of The Jekyll Island Club,
founder of The Equitable Life Assurance Society
of the United States in 1859
though i think often of life in the late 1800s and early 1900's, i couldn't agree more with mr. hyde and his opinion of the best little island in the world.
22 miles of an undisturbed haven nestled just off the georgia coast, my family started taking me and my sisters in the early 1980's. now 2012, and i take my children and continue to introduce ben to the nostalgia and history
that penetrates my soul.
no one rushes off the beach to get fancied up for dinner.
you stay in swim clothes til you put on pajamas.
no need to claim a spot on the beach.
you have it to yourself.
the moss hangs low and the mosquitoes bite.
the sounds are only that of clicking of the bicycles
honking of the barges going east
whoosh and crash of brown waves
and the slight dink of the golf balls.
the day begins and ends with bike rides
and in between lies
getting lost among the mansions in the historic district
fountain drinks at the local grocery
a nap on the couch
an occasional text or email or phone call.
it's tradition now to eat as a family at barbara jeans on
st. simons island. uncle phil graciously treats all 20 something of us and then it's back to the island we love. (though after staring at these crab cakes and broccoli casserole, i'm thinking we could do this twice a week!)
we've come full circle from coming as children to now bringing our children. our parents came as children. then brought their children. now they keep watch on their grands. we are 'them' now, pointing out how we would jump waves, build droopy sand castles, and bike the island.
i feel inspired this year more than ever. each visit, each memory, takes a stronger hold of my soul. i spent hours at the bookstore, which served as the infirmary to the millionaires in the early 1900's. the history of the island draws me back in time. my childhood memories are awakened as i experience it all again with my three boys.
the island is becoming tradition to them.
they sleep hard for they play with full energy.
they delight in chocolate dipped cones.
they spit out the salt-filled ocean as they come up from a wave.
they run fast on the hard sandy beaches.
they bike for pleasure.
they converse with great-great aunts and think so highly of cousins, emily and bella.
rain happened. 48 hours more than we wanted it.
it simply made the still island stand more still.
oh, how our family needed the gift that God gave to us here.
one night, ben and i biked hard and fast to catch the sunset.
for we are the first in the states to see it arise
and as we watched it disappear towards the west, it seemed to say to me, "i'll be back around tomorrow."
our journey on bikes always takes us to the mansions. to the jekyll island club where 1/6 of the nation's wealth retreated in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
we ride along the paths that jp morgan and william rockefeller rode. i eat a chicken salad sandwich on croissant with my aunt and mom and wonder what conversation was like among the ladies of that day.
ben and i continue to bike through the historic district along the alligator alley up behind the only gas station and dairy queen on the island. we bike back at dark with no worries and hardly any sight ahead. yet it's the ocean waves that entertain us and the light of the full moon that guides us back to our rental home.
jekyll has been coined the last great place. the pulitzers, vails, rockefellers, morgans, and vanderbilts thought so a century ago.
the rainwaters, along with the malcoms, bagwells, stricklands, pilgreens, agree.
we believe like they do...we still seem far removed from the world here.
and to quote jp morgan, "isn't this the grandest place for us to be at this time in our lives?" to which mr. joseph pulitzer replied, "i believe it is....we need the peace that only nature can offer."