State of Wonderment
By André Turner
Nature is what we know
Yet have no art to say,
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To Her Simplicity.
- Emily Dickinson
This is Cumberland Island. In her “simplicity” is her greatness.
How something so diverse in its landscapes can dumb down the most complicated thoughts is beyond me. The intracoastal marsh, maritime forest, land-locked swamps, vast ocean beach and towering sand dunes all challenge me to “dumb it all down.”
My first date with Cumberland, I was asked to lead a group of volunteers on a bushwhacking, trail-clearing hike. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. But with a fairly keen sense of direction, a first aid kit and some jokes in tow, I accepted my mission. After a quick look at the trail map, my objectives were simple. Head east on Willow Pond, don’t lose anyone. Hang a left at the beach, don’t let anyone get hurt. Hang another left at Duck Pond, don’t take this experience for granted.
I was maybe halfway up the beach before I told anyone that I had never hiked this trail, let alone been on this island before. Looking back, I’m not sure what had me so anxious about the whole thing. Maybe it was the anticipation of the unknown. At the same time, the unknown is what made it so wonderful. Like being a curious child all over again, wide-eyed and full of questions. I once heard someone say that one of the biggest crimes in growing up is that you lose the ability to wonder. Why wonder if you know everything already or at least know where you can find the answer? Well, on this maiden voyage, I remembered what it was like to wonder. Cumberland Island … a simple state of wonderment.
~ André Turner volunteers with the Georgia Conservancy.
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