I was looking through iPhoto on my desktop earlier today and came across these pictures—snapshots of a spring break vacation our family took with Nick's sister, Angelou, her husband and kids, and Nick's parents. Words can't describe how much fun we had together—not just because we went somewhere absolutely amazing (St. Simon's Island), but because we vacationed as a family. Here, a recap in pictures.
St. Simon's is off the coast of Georgia—a jewel of an island I learned about years ago after watching the breathtakingly beautiful art house film, Daughters of the Dust. The history here is amazing—particularly that of Africans and African Americans; that house my brother-in-law, James, is standing in front of is the last standing blacks-only, one-room schoolhouse in St. Simon's, and I couldn't resist taking a picture of the street sign leading up to the school. You know "Mama Lou" had to be somebody special! After visiting the school, we rode bikes into the center of town and saw this great big ol' tree; the kids couldn't resist climbing it. And then we found Ebo Landing, the shoreline where, legend has it, a group of people kidnapped from Nigeria and brought to America to be slaves got off the slave ship, turned around, and walked back into the water, chanting and singing songs of freedom. They drowned themselves rather than be slaves (the story is chronicled in the famous, The People Could Fly children's tale, and was recounted in Daughters of the Dust). Rumor has it that the people who live in the houses surrounding Ebo Landing occasionally hear singing, chanting and clinking chains—the souls of the Africans revealing their presence. We closed our eyes and listened intently, but heard only the sweet whisper of the wind and the rustling of the leaves. Still, we all took the time to pray over the waters—to send up the timber for the ancestors.
We stole away from St. Simon's to take a day trip to Jeckyll Island and Sapelo Island; the latter is home to the descendants of a family of slaves that worked the Chocolate Plantation in the 1800s—a family that, to this day, lives an authentic Gullah lifestyle. To see the island up close, you must travel there by ferry, and then hire a bus tour to take you to see the sights. For a few extra dollars, we convinced a driver to take us off the beaten path to see the remains of the tabby slave houses of the Chocolate Plantation; we also saw the lighthouse up close, and, some amazing wildlife, which was extra special for my sister-in-law/BFF Angelou, a passionate environmentalist (who's on her way to Washington today to participate in a White House symposium on the environment—woot woot!). If you really focused, you could see some amazing wildlife, too. Can you find the alligator?
We rented a beautiful house just a short walk from the beach, and the kids made sure we got our beach time every morning. The Spring chill didn't stop them from digging into the sand; there were enough mud pies to feed a small nation. While Lila drew love notes to her mommy in the sand, her grandfather looked out over the ocean—reflecting on the beauty of all that God has made.