Friday, June 8, 2007

June 7, 2007

Cumberland Island anchorage:
30° 46.817N 81° 28.268W

We went Cumberland Island today and explored a fraction of what was available. After hiking to the Carnegie estate we explored the ruins (from a distant, they’re roped off). We saw, across the distant marsh grasses and very close across the old back lawn wild (or should I say feral) horses. Two of the mares we saw were pregnant and one looked about ready to drop her foal. We saw the car graveyard, a few old Fords and an old Studebaker, sadly gone to rot and rust. The mansion itself and the outlying buildings (pool house, greenhouse, etc) burned down back in the 50’s, but the ruins still held such a sense of the grandeur of that lost time period, the opulence and hauteur of the Carnegie lifestyle. It reminded me of Jane Eyre, when Thornfield burns to ground after Bertha Mason sets it on fire. And I wonder if anyone gained deeper insight from that the tragedy of this fire. Rochester lost his sight but found love with Jane. Would that the human soul could always resurrect itself out of the ashes of despair and heartbreak. But without destruction there can be no destruction. Anyone out there read a short story called “The Destructor’s” by Graham Greene? Cool story; one of the side themes is that destruction itself can be an act of creation. That destruction on some level, however chaotic and perverse, is beautiful in its horror. Oh those terrifyingly beautiful literary paradoxes—love ’em.

Back to Cumberland. I ran along the beach—south, away from the few small groups of families and campers frolicking in the waves. And as I came to each flock of seagulls and pelicans sunning themselves on the parts of the beach they’d thought to find no annoying humans…well, there I was. And as I would draw near the pelicans would do double footed hops and then swoop into the air, glide and dive to find lunch. The gulls would seemingly float from ground, almost as if their wing movement was superfluous to their ability to take flight. After swarming and creating quite a sight in the sky they would settle again, about 200 hundred feet in front me so that I they would be scared off by me again. I think in that mile and a half of beach I ran down and back on, I herded roughly 50 pelicans south.

Though truly, one of the coolest sensations was on the return. There was a trail of two sets of hoofprints, a mare and her foal, there were seagull prints crisscrossing here and there, and there was my Adidas footfall. That’s it. On the one hand I was truly leaving a footprint behind and on the other, I knew that in a matter of hours the tide would wash away all remnants that I head been there; mother nature (and the pelicans) would reclaim their land and if I went back tomorrow, it would seem untouched by human interference. Sometimes it’s nice to feel small.

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