“That sinuous southern life, that oblique and slow and complicated old beauty, that warm thick air and blood warm sea, that place of mists and languor and fragrant richness….” ― Anne Rivers Siddons,
Exploring a new trail is one of my favourite activities anywhere, and perhaps especially on Jekyll Island. The Tupelo Trail at Horton Pond — a pond with a newly installed observation deck on the shore, for the people, and a basking deck in the pond, for the alligators and turtles — was created since the last time I visited, so I had to check it out (twice) out on my latest trip in December. It’s only 0.7 miles long, but the vegetation and fungal life is varied. The trail has the only stand of black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica, aka blackgum) on Jekyll; other uncommon plants are the water oak (Quercus nigra), pond pine (Pinus serotina, aka marsh pine), several varieties of blueberries (Vaccinium), several varieties of stinkhorn fungi.
So many interesting things, so much ambiance, “oblique and slow and complicated beauty,” a languor in the air that’s both drowsy and vaguely dangerous, prompting watchful, respectful wonder. The soil is humusy, with a scent of decay and mold, as death becomes life again. Signs of humans are everywhere — literally, in the signs labelling the plants — but there is a remote, primeval feeling to the place.
A few of the many trees and shrubs labelled:
Signs without plants:
Some fun fungi:
(Yes, the stinkhorns really do stink; that’s the main way to find them. Some smell like bleach, others like something dead.)
Assorted flora, fauna … also saw an osprey perched on a branch but didn’t get a good shot:
Trail shots …It really was an otherworldly walk.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. — Wendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front