John Muir may have rested under this Live Oak in 1867-68.
While at Cedar Key Linda and I were hosted by a family that owns property on Hodgson Hill. The Live Oaks there were likely present when John Muir was recuperating from malaria in late 1867 and early, Jan. 1868. I read a passage from Muir’s journal to this couple that owns the property. They were moved to tears by the experience. It was delightful to discover a gopher turtle living at the base of the oak. Muir would have loved it. Linda and I were recipients of Southern hospitality as was Muir. We were treated to a lunch at the property owner’s home. You can see the spread and a picture of the gathering above. I also gave a presentation of Muir’s book at the Cedar Key public Library just down the street from Parson’s General Store which Muir used to buy citrus due to his malarial cravings. There was a standing room only crowd of enthusiastic attendees. Afterwards, we went to the Historical Society dinner. I, like Muir, discovered the genuine delights of Southern hospitality. It was a great day finished off with dessert and coffee at the Island Hotel and Restaurant, previously, Parson’s General Store. I shared a poem I wrote about my dining experience in 2007 when I did research and dined alone at the Hotel. The Hotel has posted it, for a time, on its website: http://www.islandhotel-cedarkey.com
All in all, Linda and I immensely enjoyed our time in Cedar Key, Florida. It is a delightful, laid back Gulf town.
St. Bonaventure Cemetery
This baptismal fount is in front of the Savannah Cathedral, St. John the Baptist.
The other pictures are also taken in Savannah including an Art Museum showing the big impact the arts currently have in Savannah with the growth of the Savannah School of Art and Design, a picture of a presentation at Book Lady bookstore, a convention of Golden Retrievers at St. Bonaventure–yes, the city has its eccentricities, and Linda and I visiting Savannah’s Cathedral, St. John the Baptist where we have, during our travels and in our family tradition, lighted votive candles in prayers for our children and other concerns. I loved the use of the Celtic Cross which was at the bottom of the baptismal basin. We also took in some music in Savannah attending its annual music festival that featured a world-class Kora player from Mali, Ballake Sissoko, accompanied with a German cellist, Vincent Segal. They played hauntingly beautiful music of their own compositions. They were double-billed with a Cajun and Creole band led by Cedric Watson, Dirk Powell and a wonderful harpist from Seattle. It was a great and lively evening of music. For a review check out: http://www.billdawers.com/2013/03/22/a-stunning-smf-double-bill-sissoko-segal-watson-powell/
This is likely the Live Oak Muir lay against while recuperating from malaria on Hodgson Hill, Way Key, Cedar Kay, FL
Cedar Key is a lovely, laid back community on the Gulf of Mexico, north of Tampa. Muir came down with malaria in late October and had to stay here until early January, 1868 when he then shipped for Havana, Cuba. The rose is known as the Cherokee Rose, a memorial rose for the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears from Georgia to Florida in the 1830’s. Muir visited Camp Butler, while in Murphy, NC which was a staging point for the forced removal of the Cherokee tribes under order of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. The removal was a travesty of justice given that the Cherokee had been American allies in wars against the British, other Native tribes and the Spanish and had developed well their lands and properties in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The sunrises and sunsets at Cedar Key are gorgeous. I spoke at the Cedar Key Public Library and then dined with the Historical Society. The local librarian, Molly Jublitz was very helpful in making arrangements along with my Southern publicist, Kathie Bennett. Molly organized a group for lunch on the Hodgson Hill and I got to read the portion of Muir’s journal where Muir rested under a Live Oak while recuperating from malaria. The owner’s of what was the Hodgson property believe this was the Live Oak Muir used under because it is as old and has a view of Lime Key. All in all, I had a beautiful time at Cedar Key with wonderful people. I experienced hospitality, just as Muir had done 145 years ago.
Christ Church, St. Simon’s Island, GA
As Linda and I went to St. Simon’s Island to give a lecture at Coastal Georgia University in nearby Brunswick, we visited Christ Church. This Church was built by a grieving pastor who lost his wife on their honeymoon while in Europe. He promised he would always be by her side. He brought her body home and built with care and grace this lovely church placing her body near the pulpit and gave sermons near her grave site. When he died, his body remained “by her side.” The careful choice of wood, framing with pegs and delightful gardens provided a lovely setting. Charles Wesley preached his first sermon under a nearby Live Oak thereby beginning the Methodist Church in Colonial Georgia in the early 1730’s as the colony was being established by James Oglethorpe. The fern on the Live Oak is known as the “Resurrection Fern” which comes alive after rainfall when before it is dried up and brown. The South is full of both beautiful nature and great stories. This was both a spiritual and visual delight.
From the mountains of Georgia, we drove 5 and half hours to Columbus, Georgia and then onto Callaway Gardens for presentations. At the Rose Cottage Bakery and Restaurant in Pine Mountain, Georgia near Callaway, we met Maria Makin who, with her husband, were world class chefs who served Nelson Mandela at his inaugural and were operating a delightful restaurant with first class food. He had been executive chef for Four Seasons and Callaway Gardens, but were looking to simplify their lives and do their own thing. Our conversation was rich and delightful. Another gem was our opportunity to give a presentation at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church class and then worshipped with them. Father Jeff Jackson, known by his blog, The hiking priest, was a wonderful host. It was delightful to meet with the congregation at Hamilton, Georgia. Along the way, we stopped into the Oink Joint for Southern barbecue. It turned out this was an award winning place. At Columbus we provided a lecture on Muir at the International Student’s Center, then drove onto Callaway Gardens, where the above pictures show the flowers, chapel and grounds. It was a great day for hiking the privately developed gardens that was the dream of a Georgian who wanted to re-claim cut-over lands and provide a lovely setting for family fun to include golf, plantings, zip lines, boating, fishing and a wide variety of learning activities. It was a good turnout and we we delighted with the housing arrangements. All in all it was a beautiful experience. Theodore Roethke’s phrase, “Love that which is near at hand” came to mind as I reflected on these gems, these big treasures in small places. We would all do to keep our mind and eye’s open as we make our journey. I’m grateful for these delights of travel.