Thursday, March 31, 2011

Georgia on my Mind

Earlier this week, we flew south, like confused birds, to get an early taste of spring on the Georgia coast. I had actually hoped for more of an early taste of summer... last week, I followed the weather and it was in the upper 70's and lower 80's in Savannah. What a treat that would be after a late March in Illinois that just wouldn't seem to get out of the 30's, at least not for long. Well, we arrived in Savannah at about the same time as a cold front, headed up by torrential downpours. Driving unfamiliar roads in an unfamiliar car isn't fun, but it gets even worse when your visibility is about 5 feet and roads are closed due to flooding, but detours aren't marked. But even so... it was green and it smelled fresh and new.

When we got to the b and b where we were staying, guests on their way out told us of the perfect weather they'd had, assured us that we'd have the same. We didn't. That night, it stormed spectacularly, causing a power outage on the entire island... but it stopped by morning and we had rain-free days. But not warm ones. It stayed in the 50's -- the low 50's a lot of the time -- and we didn't see even a glimpse of the sun the entire time we were there.

Still... the weather couldn't stop us from enjoying the southland in the springtime.
The live oaks spread their branches over streets and walkways, creating tunnels. Epiphytic Spanish moss hangs down, creating a fairy tale atmosphere.
Everywhere trees are flowering, leaves emerged but still lime green and new, thin and almost translucent.
The last to leaf out, even this oak has tiny leaves...

While we weren't able to lounge on the beach, we did explore the beach and, at low tide, made several discoveries:
Lettered olives, alive and shiny... we also found a few empty shells.
Sea stars...
Jellyfish, most dead and washed up, but this comb jelly still alive and trapped, momentarily, in a pool. (The jellyfish is the blurry blob to the left and just below the broken sand dollar.)
A crab exoskeleton, perfect and unbroken, next to some of the plentiful clam shells.
A huge piece of horseshoe crab...
And plenty of other shells and treasures.
We also saw a lot of shore birds, laughing gulls and several small varieties of waders and pelicans.

I carried my nature journal but it really wasn't warm enough for sitting outside and drawing to be pleasant. Until... you guessed it... the morning we had to leave! So I did get in a quick drawing, of the tree whose leaves were hanging right over our balcony, since I didn't have the time to go anywhere or look for something exciting and Georgia-y, or we'd miss our plane (which ended up leaving 2 hours late, so I guess that wasn't a real issue, but whatever).
I thought is was a hackberry, but apparently I was too far south and it was probably a sugarberry, which is a lot like a hackberry.

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