Opinion: Living on Jekyll Time
The Newnan Times Herald
W. Winston Skinner
February 9, 2014

Like everyone, Lynn and I have had to watch our expenses more in the last few years.

When we had the opportunity to spend a few days at Jekyll Island recently, we both were grateful. Jekyll is one of our favorite places on earth — probably our very favorite outside those places close to home where we connect often with those we love most.

We have been to Jekyll enough to have seen and done everything at least once, so a visit to Jekyll offers time to simply be. The warm sun, the shade of the live oaks laden with Spanish moss, the gentle ferment of the marsh all serve to create a softness that is intoxicating.

Being a newspaper person for more than 30 years, I pick up publications everywhere I go. At our hotel the first night, I picked up a copy of The Islander. A front page story was about the ribbon-cutting for the new Brunswick High School. One of the first people quoted was Edith Smoak, a former colleague of my mother. Miss Smoak taught at BHS when it opened in 1967.

Part of my joy in visiting Jekyll is the closeness to Brunswick where my family lived for about three years when I was growing up. I remember going to an Easter egg hunt at Fort Frederica on St. Simon’s. My brothers were preschoolers and were dressed in new, pastel matching suits.

Robert and Rhodes had specific instructions not to get in the marsh, but the search for one more elusive egg got the better of them. Looking back, I can see that my parents were amused as well as chagrined.

I have lots of memories from those Brunswick days. I remember playing with the neighbors, wandering in the undeveloped parts of our subdivision that seemed like an untamed land. Mary Frances Wimberly, the strong-willed black woman who looked after my brothers and cleaned the house, was a source of much fun.

At Altama Elementary, I learned about carnivorous plants and was thrilled to learn pitcher plants and sundews could be found in the woods near the school. I well recall the day a few snowflakes fell and we all were sent into the schoolyard to “experience snow.”

It was also at Altama that I first began to develop a lifelong love of Georgia history. Mrs. Lipthratt’s lessons about General Oglethorpe, Tomichici and Mary Musgrove, Joel Chander Harris, Moina Michael, Martha Berry, Juliette Low and Lizzie Rutherford — among others — have stuck with me and intersected with my life in interesting ways.

Jekyll itself calls for indolence, for sitting outside the hotel room and just enjoying the natural beauty. I try to walk every day anyway, and walking on Jekyll is especially enjoyable. I love seeing the slowly moving water, the houses remaining from the millionaires era, the tabby ruins scattered here and there.

It is as if those of us humans on Jekyll today are treading lightly, barely touching the wild beauty. I try to work in at least a short visit to the art museum and a ride by the Horton House and the fascinating little cemetery nearby.

Combined with the drive to and from, time at Jekyll gives Lynn and me time to reconnect, to talk and laugh, to walk and hold hands. We never really forget those qualities that attracted us to each other more than 35 year ago, but living on Jekyll time for a few days gives us time to luxuriate in just being together.

I now count carbs when eating, and our conversations seem to inevitably head toward our favorite topic — our grandchildren. That’s okay. We also talk about books and art and ideas — and about favorite foods, “Downton Abbey” and foolishness.

The opportunity to live on Jekyll time for a few days is always a welcome — and precious — gift.