• tidal creek • salt marsh • freshwater pond • maritime forest •
I have visited this slip of land off the southern coast of Georgia a dozen times over 15 years. In January, I returned once again for six days. In-between visits, Little Saint Simons Island is the place I visualize to calm my restless mind. When there, I find solitude and renewal surrounded by nature.
There, Mosquito Creek (above) wends its way through the salt marsh, rising and falling with the tides and reaching the Atlantic Ocean a few miles away.
As is my ritual on my first day on the island, I bicycled to Main Beach on the hard-packed-shell-tabby Beach Road. Heading into stiff gusts, the two miles felt like four. The ocean was a roiling tumult of churning waves and blowing sand.
Not the best sketching day at the beach, no way would I be able to get my watercolors and brush pen out. I grabbed a quick one of a horseshoe crab stranded on the sand by the tides. And sought a place where the dunes might shield me.
|Mosquito Creek bend, near the dunes|
Mosquito Creek makes a broad curve through the salt marsh before cutting through the dunes and entering the Atlantic Ocean. I planted the kickstand of my bike into the sand, but the wind blew it over anyway. I wished I had the gloves and hat that I had worn when leaving frigid Iowa.
Humans have trod lightly here. The island’s owners have been fierce stewards for protecting the natural floral and fauna, rejecting overtures to transform the island with condos and golf courses, like on so many of the nearby coastal Georgia islands. Under a canopy of Spanish moss draped live oak, there is a cluster of simple buildings, dating from the beginning of the 20th century. The Hunting Lodge is where paying guests gather for meals.
|Live Oak Above the Hunting Lodge|
The deer locker is left over from when there were hunting parties.
Beyond the few buildings, there are miles of narrow rutted paths and two-track roads to explore.
On a day when the wind died down, I set up my easel on the isthmus that bisects Deer Marsh. Even in the relative coolness of winter, it is verdant and alive with waterfowl, wading birds and fish. Tiny sand crabs skittered at my feet.
|Deer Marsh from Old Airstrip Road|
The backbone of the island is a lush maritime forest. I set up my easel out of the wind near Willow Pond Dike, on the the north end. Birdsong filled the canopy above. In the palmetto understory, raccoons, armadillos, and deer rustled the leaf mulch. In this wildness, I feel as though I'm in a primordial forest.
|Live Oak Dead Cedar, near Willow Pond dike|
|3-color ink underdrawing to the above drawing|
Being here, drawing here, I feel the most alive and the most insignificant.