I am very happy to be a part of the tour for Wild Times on Skidaway Island by Karen Dove Barr.
I have so much to share that I hope you will take a leisurely tour through the post and enjoy all that Karen Dove Barr and I have to offer for your enjoyment today – Guest Post, Excerpt and My Review.
I have a small collection of travel books. Before going to a new place, I always buy a book to learn as much as I can and find the photo op places of choice.
The cover immediately drew me in and when I read that Skidaway Island is a part of Georgia’s Historic Rain Forest, I became intrigued.
I lived in Atlanta, Georgia for two years and loved it. I never made it to Skidaway Island, but if I had read this book while there I would have made it a point to visit.
Wild Times on Skidaway Island
by Karen Dove Barr
Wild Times on Skidaway Island, Georgia’s Historic Rain Forest, details life in a unique Audubon-designated, ecologically friendly refuge. There, golfers pitch balls around endangered great blue herons, mama raccoons march their babies across backyard decks where once Guale Indians trapped ancestors of the same raccoons, and residents dodge alligators and rescue snakes.
Even the vegetation is wild. Three hundred-year-old oaks dripping Spanish moss and poison ivy surmount an under-story of wax myrtle and holly. Carolina jasmine, Cherokee roses, and endangered orchids grow wild in the rain forest. The book examines choices residents make when stared down by a bald eagle, when a red-tailed hawk mistakes a golf ball for bird food, when wakened at midnight by deer munching hibiscus. Wild Times on Skidaway Island educates about the species that residents must adapt to on this historic island.
Why did Karen choose to write about this particular island?
Skidaway Island has been my home since 1989. When I first crossed the causeway and bridge to the island I didn’t know quite what to expect, even though I had lived in nearby Savannah for many years. Development is allowed on only a few of Georgia’s barrier islands. Skidaway had remained unbridged and mostly uninhabited in modern times.
A dappled herd of white-tailed deer grazed on the banks of the lagoon just inside the North Gate on my first trip to Skidaway Island, like shills for the real estate company. The saleslady neglected to warn that the thunder of hooves would wake us at midnight, when deer munched pots of hibiscus on our wooden deck.
After we built the house a mama raccoon descended from the fronds of a palm tree and marched her trio of kits across the wide back deck while we watched, open-mouthed.
I didn’t know the history of the island; only that James Oglethorpe left a few of his original settlers on Skidaway Island when he landed in Georgia in 1733. All the settlers died or left.
After Georgians struck down the English trustees’ prohibition against slavery men and women from Africa were brought to Skidaway and remained there for nearly one hundred years. By the end of the nineteenth century almost all were gone.
We built our house on land ringed by giant oaks but the center of our lot contained only dense, new-growth pine. Traces of an abandoned dirt road crossed one edge. When we dug our footings, we found shards of blue and white china. And when I moved in the spirits of previous residents filled our rooms.
Wild Times on Skidaway Island lets the world share the facts I’ve learned about this beautiful but sometimes uninhabitable place.
I chose this excerpt because it had me cracking up as I read it.
When Walt and Carol Culin topped their house at The Landings with a coated metal roof they were confident the roof would be problem-free for a hundred years. Walt’s contacts as head of an industrial coating company helped him get the latest technology. Even a hurricane shouldn’t destroy their unusual–looking roof.
But nothing in Walt’s Princeton-educated background prepared him for dryocopus pileatus, the pilated wookpecker.
Male pilated woodpeckers are fixated on the notion that female woodpeckers are attracted to the stud with the noisiest pecker. Usually the woodpecker has to be content with drumming on a hollow tree to resonate his sound. Walt and Carol’s metal roof, however, raised the bar for the local woodpecker population. Walt and Carol were regularly awakened by mate-seeking woodpeckers as soon as they moved into the house.
Walt ended up having to make a run to Toys ’R Us for rubber snakes. Glued to the chimney alongside a big fake owl, the snakes allowed Walt and Carol to catch some winks in the early morning during woodpecker mating season.
What can I say? If you are a traveler that does your research before taking a trip, this is a book you will want to add to your collection before visiting Skidaway Island, Georgia’s Historic Rain Forest.
Karen Dove Barr made me think of Cape Cod as I read the book.
I could feel the mud oozing through my toes as she talked of the mucky river bottom. It has a very distinctive aroma, not pleasant, but all of us water lovers learn to love it. I always wonder what critters are under the muck waiting to nibble on my toes.
I could picture the kayakers riding the waves, the bikers pedaling through the scenic pathways, the noreasters blowing and the liquor smugglers trying to bring their wares to the thirsty residents without being caught by the man.
Skidaway Island Oceanographic Institute would be a must see on anyone’s list. The Oceanographic Institute is a 700 acre campus that is part of the University of Georgia. Photo from Skidaway Island Oceanographic Institute website.
The Island differs greatly from the Cape when it comes to the vegetation. The towering oaks can be over 100 years old, with massive branches that create an umbrella of shade . Even on the hottest days you can take some comfort in their embrace.
The critters abound and I love all nature’s gifts, from the flying squirrel, to the pesky deer trying to eat all your beautiful flowers. There are those irritating raccoons and even bobcats spying on whatever comes to the bird feeder. There are opossum, river otters, minks, rabbits, fox, bats and feral pigs.
Birdwatchers will love the abundance of flying creatures. The crows look down as if we are the novelty. I laughed when Karen talked about coming up on a snake while biking. It was actually an anhinga anhinga, a snakebird. Eagles have returned to Skidaway Island, so the residents must be doing something right. When you visit you may be lucky to have a Bald Eagle sighting yourself. Pilated woodpeckers – I have always wanted to see one of these. They remind me of a pterodactyl.
I love birds, but my favorite creatures have to be found in the water. And Skidaway Island does not lack for the variety, large and small, to be watched and photographed. They even have the knobbed whelk as their official state shell. How cool is that? There are also all the little critters that live in reeds and muck. For those weak at heart, you might want to wear your water shoes.
Skidaway Farms is a cooperative for growing vegetables, trying to keep the wildlife from dining before the residents. There is a children’s garden and they even have a fall festival. Photo from Skidaway Farms website.
The flowers and vegetation are all around you, vibrant and in some instances protected, such as the green orchid, one of the few orchids to be able to endure frosty weather.
I became enamored with Skidaway Island. As Karen talked of her home, I was kayaking, (but not running, walking), biking, fishing, swimming, and just enjoying nature’s bounty. What a fantastic environment to be in. People just need to remember, it is nature’s home, we are the visitors.
Karen – your book made we want to jump in my car and cruise on up to Skidaway Island!
5 STARS – Would Highly Recommend To Others
I received this book from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Dove Barr, Attorney, was recently recognized by the Georgia State Bar for providing legal assistance to military families and service members. She has practiced in the field of family law in Savannah for 34 years.
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Amazon / Barnes and Nobles / Strategic Media Books
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