Just back from a few wonderful days family camping at Cumberland Island in Georgia, a stunning national park canopied with gnarled live oaks, teeming with wildlife, bordered with sparkling beaches and steeped in history. I've lured you in with a picture of my vacation read, In Hoboken by Christian Bauman (Melville House, 2008), but I will have to confess to not actually getting a lot of reading done. Though the book is off to a very appealing start (aspiring young musicians in 1990's New Jersey, what's not to love?), we were too busy hiking, beachcombing, and trying to outsmart sneaky raccoons (FYI, they can unzip a cooler like nobody's business) to spend much as much time as I might have wished with it.
Like many of the coastal islands here, Cumberland Island was first settled thousands of years ago by indigenous people, and later by a series of Europeans - Spanish missionaries, then the English after Georgia was established as a British colony. Revolutionary war general Nathanael Greene was granted land here, his widow built a mansion named Dungeness. Defensive forts were built and have long since disintegrated. For a time slaves worked to raise crops on the island, later their descendants were employed on the estates of wealthy residents. The Carnegie family built a mansion here (in the same location as the earlier home, also named Dungeness) during the glory days of industrialism; it fell into disuse and disrepair at the end of that heady era and burned to the ground in 1959. The ruins still stand as part of the park - the once-great lawns now feeding wild horses, the crumbling bricks feeding our imaginations. One can imagine the Gatsby-esque parties, the dresses, the illustrious company, and the dramatic decline of an unsustainably lavish way of life.
Wild horses grazing
A once-grand fountain decorates the great lawn
The remaining walls of Dungeness
Most striking in our visit was the incredible natural beauty- the pristine beaches
and the magical maritime forest.
Where have your travels or wandering imagination taken you this summer? Which books have been your companions?
Happy trails, and happy reading!