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Jekyll Island Interlude

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In a new effort to maximize return for the travel I do, I'm trying to book multiple speaking engagements when I go far afield. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I thought I had three engagements lined up in the Savannah area, but one fell through. Still, two was better than one.

Zick on Jekyll. Photo by Lydia Thompson

Coastal Audubon, based in Brunswick, took me up on my offer to speak to their group. President Marge Inness had to throw it together pretty quickly, but she and member Lydia Thompson did a bang-up job publicizing it. 

We had no idea how many might attend. 30? 40? Their previous all-time attendance high had been 42.

Sixty people showed up! One of my favorite sights--people scrambling for extra chairs. We had a blast.

But I should back up. Because before I could go to Brunswick, I wanted to go to Jekyll Island to meet Lydia Thompson, watercolor painter, printmaker, writer, avid birder, blogger.

And before I could do that, I had to cross THIS.

My slight phobia of high arched spans over water emerged in the spring of 1999, when I was just barely pregnant with Liam and headed out to Dauphin Island, Alabama to speak to the Alabama Ornithological Society. There was this concrete bridge and it was very steep and it went up and up such that you could see nothing but sky at the top. My primitive brain kicked in and shrieked, "YOU'LL FALL OFF THE OTHER SIDE THERE'S NO ROAD AHEAD IF YOU CAN'T SEE IT!!!"
and before I knew it I was driving about five miles an hour and slowing fast and cars were honking and swerving around me
and I was making these low animal moans and gripping the wheel very tightly
but I made it over and back, too.

This one wasn't quite as bad.

but I cannot say I am crazy about bridges like this, no matter how beautiful the view. A single Jersey barrier between me and hundreds of feet of fall does not make me feel secure.

This was my second crossing of this span. The first one was worse. I couldn't have taken photos the first time. I was too busy going Hm. Hm. Hm. OK. Hm. OK. 

But I made it to Jekyll and with Lydia as my most excellent guide we took in her favorite sights. Here she is with my chocolate chip Fiat.

It's so lovely to go afield with another artist. We flip out over the same things: patterns on the sand,

the little things the wind and water sculpt

gorgeous dunes

red bay (the kind of leaf you cook with!)

yaupon holly

oyster beds


oystercatcher tracks

sea whips, a kind of coral, most amazing...But for Lydia's guidance, I knew not whether I was looking at animal, vegetable or mineral. And they also come in bright pink!

The great prize of the day: a newly arrived pair of Wilson's plovers resting on their chosen nesting grounds.
They looked tired. Maybe they'd just come from Central America!

We visited a heron roost where yellow-bellied turtles and little alligators were watched over by a yellow-crowned night heron.

It was cool and sunny and beautiful there.

She and the Friends of Jekyll Island had made a gorgeous bird garden that attracts painted buntings in season. I was there out of season, but there were oodles of birds, including a tufted titmouse which is a big deal for an offshore island like this one.

Lydia took me to a rope swing that had been hanging for at least 40 years in a beautiful coastal forest.

Well, of course I did! Watch out for that tree!

two Zick at play photos by Lydia Thompson

but the best thing she did besides taking me to her favorite spot on the whole island was to let me creep up on the oystercatchers and practically put my right ear down on the sand

to snag this image of them standing in their pink nylon stockings all looking up at who knows what. Please to click on the photo to see the whole composition. It is square here, but beaches are not square.

Thank you for my beautiful Jekyll Island afternoon, Miss Lydia!

and thank you Marge and John Inness of Brunswick, GA, for being such wonderful hosts. I would come back in a heartbeat.


wow.. the place so nice..
keep share the picture.. :)

Those cute little Fiats are sprouting up like mushrooms where I live... but Re: your "phobia of high arched spans over water," just be thankful you weren't carpooling a passenger load of CLOWNS in that little vehicle ;-) you'da never made it!!
And love them Oystercatchers; something about large black & white birds with big beaks...

I've been comptemplating a visit to the Ga. coastline. I think you have made up my mind.
I lived in Macon, Ga. for years and could have kicked myself for not visiting while I was closer. Still wouldn't be a long trip.
I too have that slight fear of bridges, I hate the bridge over the Ms. River in Baton Rouge, La. I had that extreme fear on the one over Lake Charles. I was a little bitty kid last time I saw it. Frightening!!!

Posted by Anonymous February 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM

I lived on Jekyll Island for about ten months back in 2010-11 (and am acquainted with Lydia) - thanks for bringing back some great memories!

Hi Julie:

I visited Jekyll Island in November of 1979, a magical experience for a Jersey boy who had never been further south than North Carolina before that. I remember seeing clouds of giant sulfur butterflies, weird tailed skipper butteflies, zebra Heliconia butterflies, armies of red fiddler crabs, lots of ghost crabs, washed up Portuguese Man O'War and sadly beaches littered with sea turtle skeletons, victims of fishing nets. I also saw pileated woodpeckers up close for the first time, a family (mom, pop, two chicks) who completely ignored me. I don't think that bridge was there back then! Thanks for sharing!

Your photos are always awesome! I love the real picture of the oystercatchers. : ) I so want to go to Georgia now.

You have to paint that photo of the oystercatchers. The colors are unbelievable! Don't ever stop!

Posted by Anonymous February 18, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Thanks Julie, It was a pleasure to show you Jekyll Island and enjoyed the evening talk. Keep up the wonderful work.

Posted by Lydia Thompson February 21, 2013 at 1:23 PM
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