I recently spent about a week in the St. Simons Island area visiting my mother-in-law with Molly and the children. We decided to fly down to Orlando, rather than Brunswick, driving up through Jacksonville in order to save a few sheckels. Flying down I read Bruges-la-Morte written by Georges Rodenbach, “a master of symbolist fiction.” Rodenbach brings new meaning to the mourning process following the loss of a wife. Bruges becomes the dead city. And the bells connived in this, while each evening he wandered with growing anguish, with the pain of loving Jane and missing his wife, of fearing his sinfulness and possible damnation…At first friendly, the bells offered good advice; but soon they ceased to commiserate, chiding him-visible and palpable round him, so to speak, like jackdraws around towers-jostling him, entering his head, assaulting him and doing him violence, in order to pick off his wretched love and pluck out his sin.” Hughes, the widower, had inserted a young dancer, Jane, physically and mentally into the exact capacity of his deceased wife. Not sure what it is about bells and symbolism. Poe and Hemingway always come to mind. The situation in this tale though, of course, does not work out and Hughes winds up realizing Jane is not the same personality as his beloved deceased wife. Hughes actually murders Jane in a bizarre final scene during a religious procession. Rodenbach was a master of symbolism in this work though bringing the city symbolically to darkly fit the theme. Each individual is unique. Overcoming loss is not a simple affair. Rodenbach took mourning to a new and overly exaggerated level. Thoughts that came to mind flying over the southeast.One item I never miss about the south is the humidity. When I first moved to Montana in 1990, it took my lungs a while to adjust to the dryness of the air. Now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Temperatures were in the mid nineties in Florida and Georgia during our visit, which with the wet air felt warmer yet. Driving by Daytona is alway a little tough as the kids have enjoyed numerous fun visits to the area visiting with their grandparents in the past. St. Augustine is always interesting as well given the rich historical nature of the city. I like its old streets and structures. St. Simons Island and Jeckll Island were beautiful with the typical Georgian flair. Old beach homes, southern mansions, beautiful churches, a lighthouse and plantation era structures as well. I jogged one morning by a Tabby House near the airport. There are still a couple of these slave cabins in the area.Jekyll Island still had the feel of the playground for the exceedingly well to do. I mentioned to Molly I felt like I was at Newport, RI, only in the south in the snowbird’s recreation area. I found myself wondering how many deals Rockefeller, Warburg and Morgan cooked up while sitting in a duck blind at Jekyll.
One of the highlights on Jekyll actually was the turtle rehabilitation center which was educational. There were turtles in the center that had experienced numerous travails being nursed back to health. My youngest son loves turtles, his i-pod being in a turtle case. Also among the museums, I visited an art store and took a chair while Erin took a photo.While on St. Simons we enjoyed the beach where there were many others doing the same. Each morning folks were walking their dogs or jogging. Wind surfing, sailing, and surf casting were also regular events in the area. People rented bikes and arranged snorkeling or fishing excursions. Shrimp boats daily went in and out along with a few larger vessels here and there between St. Simons and Jekyll as well. Fort St. Simons was build by English soldiers in 1738 and was destroyed by the Spanish in 1742. In the area stands the St. Simons Station lighthouse build by James Gould in 1807 who also became its keeper. The lighthouse was destroyed in 1862 by Confederate troops in order that it would not aid the north during the war.While Molly shopped, I managed to find a used bookstore in the same area along with some artwork by a local artist, Carol Park, who did a nice job capturing the marsh areas on the island through her oils and watercolors. For four bucks I bought Marchand’s Byron’s Poetry. A bit of Marchand’s early commentary: “Fidelity to the mood of the moment was Byron’s forte, and failure to acknowledge this has befuddled Byron criticism from the time the poem’s were published until the present day. There has been a persistent refusal to accept Byron’s own frankest statements, and to recognize that honesty and self-honesty were almost an obsession with him…. A second way of viewing the disparity between the real and the ideal is to see the gap as essentially unbridgeable: to come face to face with the necessity of dealing with the real world as real and the ideal world as ideal, as a creation of the mind. Within this possibility are two kinds and many degrees of attitudes: (a) One may be sensible (or insensitive, if you choose to call it so) enough to accept the separation of reality and the ideality and feel no particular urge to bridge the gap between them. Such a person is not a Romantic but more nearly what we would call a realist. Or (b) one may be so constituted as to long for the ideal with an uncompromising zeal, and may be consequently disappointed and unhappy because the real fails to measure up to it, yet be too clear-sighted to confuse the two. He may then vary his mental occupations between a dwelling upon the ideal, which is his only true love, and a melancholy or bitterly mocking reflection upon how disgustingly short of the ideal the real is and must always be. In this last description of an attitude we come as near as can any generalizations to fixing the place of Byron among the Romantics. Byron’s work has loomed pretty large with me, as the realist tone is appealing. Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, The Prisoner of Chillon, So We’ll Go No More a-Roving, She Walks In Beauty, so forth… Byron contrasts pretty well with Wordsworth’s sprightly I Wandered lonely As A Cloud.