Lost in fog rolling in off the Atlantic, this place is somewhere time forgot. It is early morning on Cumberland Island and as I look out, the tentacles of the live oaks dotting the yard stretch up and outwards, winding their way through an invisible maze into the dense cloud of fog that hangs low in the air. It is as if I am hidden from the modern world by a cloak of time and distance.
As the early morning sunlight slowly breaks through the fog, it filters through the clear panes of the windows onto the dark surface of the century old wooden floor. I walk through the hallway, each step echoing with the creak of the wood under foot, proof of time’s passage. Sightless eyes watch me pass from gold frames hanging slanted against the walls. No sound comes from the other guest rooms as it is early yet – a magical time that rewards those willing to leave slumber behind.
Making my way down the stairs to the lower floor, I find myself drawn towards the cozy library. The patina of the worn spines lining the dark shelves, envelopes me as I sink onto the velvety surface of the green sofa. From the unshuttered windows, the soft glow of the morning light watches down on the cracked leather of chairs creased with use. The low conversations from the night before are now silent as the day claims nighttime’s secrets. The house is quiet as I make my way outside onto the broad porch.
It isn’t long before movement catches my eye. Emerging from the lifting fog, one of the island’s wild horses has made his way near the inn, silently grazing his breakfast. He is alone, but I imagine others are nearby as they roam the island freely. I can hear him nibbling the dew covered grass in the peaceful silence of the morning.
I make my way off the porch and down a nearby sandy pathway. I soon find myself in a tunnel of vegetation, palm fronds and moss covered oaks above and below. I can hear the sound of birds, celebrating the coming of another day. The salty air coming in from the nearby sea rustles the trees and subtly lifts the hair off my neck. The air is thick with moisture, promising another warm day.
I emerge from the path to find myself among the dunes, the sound of the ocean nearby. More of the island’s wild horses are scattered about, young and old, each aware of me as I make my way through the dunes to the sea. Here the fog has the effect of creating a moon-like landscape, otherworldly in its gold tinged dead calm – sky and land blend into one another as I make my way over the low dunes down to the ocean.
The cadence of the waves welcomes me. One after another they greet the shore, creating a rhythm that has persisted since time immortal. As I look out towards the horizon, the fog blurs the point where sky meets the sea. An eerie half light is created as the sun tries to break through the morning fog.
If this is a dream, it is one I don’t want to wake from. Regardless of what is happening in the modern world, here I am suspended in the past – in a place that remains untouched and perfect.
Just me and the natural world – blissfully existing as one.
All blog photos courtesy of Ann Street Studio. Cover photo courtesy of Sea Kayak Stonington.