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The Festival Life

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 As those of you I see on Facebook may know, I’ve been on a ten-day swing through Savannah, GA, up through Virginia Beach, speaking and participating at the Georgia Ornithological Society’s winter meeting on Tybee Island, and at the Virginia Beach Wildlife Festival. Since both functions were on the East Coast on succeeding weekends, it didn’t make sense to me to fly back to Ohio in between. I saw a chance to have a little downtime near the ocean, and grabbed it. I’m so glad I did.


I’d always wanted to see Savannah. And now I had a couple of days to do it! When Enterprise asked me if a Fiat would be OK, I actually squealed. I wasn’t sure what a Fiat would be like, but it sounded like something I’d like. “Four on the floor?” The agent laughed. “Nobody rents manual transmission cars.” Oh well. I coulda done it.

This is my little chocolate chip. I looooved driving it. I could squirt between semis and park just about anywhere, make a quick Uey without going up on to the median…just what you want in a rental car in a strange city.


Sunrise from my hotel on Tybee Island, south of Savannah. A palm tree silhouetted against surf. I’ll take it. I would see every sunrise, and when there wasn’t an early field trip, I’d run almost five miles along the packed wet sand in the fortuitous morning low tides. As I think back on the trip, those were my favorite times, alone on the beach with the birds and the dolphins.

It was nothing but delicious. Sometimes was in the low 30's at night...but so beautiful, with the changing pastel colors, the birds and the dolphins pulling me on and on.


I had been prepared for Savannah to be beautiful, but still, the building-sized live oaks draped in Spanish moss took me by surprise. It was all so green, and so gray, so shadowy and visually stunning. To have these monstrous trees arching over everything made the urban spaces so much more humane and at the same time dramatic. 

Every green space became a park, just by virtue of the majestic beautiful trees. Having lived there, I wondered how you could live in any other city, where lollipop Bradford pears pass for trees. Any one of Savannah's live oaks would easily be the biggest tree in Marietta (which has fabulous trees, make no mistake). 

The first place I headed was Bonaventure Cemetery. My fondness for cemeteries has been well-documented here, so this was a natural destination. I left my car outside and entered on foot, laden with binoculars and two cameras. I quickly realized that this vast city of the dead was probably best negotiated by car. The wind sighed through the Spanish moss and I walked from sight to sight.

I was after vistas and statuary, images that would capture the feel of the place, which was distinctly spooky. I am not one to falter in cemeteries; I feel at home there. But this one was different. There was a spiritual activity about it that evades words. Perhaps it was the many tributes lain even on old stones, but I had a strong feeling that, deserted as it was this cool gray Tuesday, there were forces moving, afoot and aflight, through the monuments.

The little voice that helps me understand animals and birds, to anticipate their behavior and watch for anomalies was speaking to me, keeping me alert and on edge. My situational awareness was high and sharp as a blade.

 More Bonaventure Cemetery coming up! 


I lived in Athens Co for 60 years before hitting the road 12 years ago.... your blog takes me back home... and... even better... takes me to places I'd like to see. I'm looking forward to Part II of Savannah... Thanks!

I just love cemeteries with trees. Can't wait to see what was down that path.

Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous January 29, 2013 at 3:48 PM

As soon as I saw the pic of the tombstone... before I had read that you WILL post more pics... i thought to myself, "I hope Julie posts more cemetery pictures!"


Posted by Anonymous January 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Julie, I'm so envious of your time in Savannah; it's one of my favorite cities in the country. Happily, I'll be visiting there again in April -- I'm already counting the weeks. I'm looking forward to more pics from Bonaventure too. That's an awesome place!

So did you refresh your Savannah lore by sleeping w/ the book Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil under your pillow? The beauty is such an eyefull but the food ain't bad down there either.

So wonderful shots. Like a dream. You are great photograph.

Oh, oh, more, more!

Did you use the park bench that was in the movie Forrest Gump.

Each time I see a Fiat I want to go " meep,meep"

Hey Julie,
It's Marshall. I am glad you liked Savannah so much and I'm not too surprised that you found Bonaventure spooky as Savannah is one of the scariest cities in the South! I hope you had a great time since we last saw you and a safe trip home!

Posted by Anonymous February 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM
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