Saying Goodbye in Savannah

Accompanied by skies that were a bit thicker, we drove off Tybee Island on our last day, saying goodbye to the low country marshes we’ve visited so often.  While there this time, I reflected that most of our favorite family vacation spots have been islands: Tybee, Hawaii, England, and Manhattan.  Maybe the only thing they all share is that we love them.

As many times as we’ve been to Tybee, we’ve been to Savannah twice as much.  It’s a delightful and delicious city, filled with history (good and bad) and archetypal Southern-ness.  Among the yummiest Southern spots has to be Mrs. Wilkes.  I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil right when it came out years and years ago.  It’s what made me want to go to Savannah, to visit Bonaventure cemetery, to eat at Clary’s, and to eat at Mrs. Wilkes.  If we have the time, we still get to Clary’s, but we always make time to eat at Mrs. Wilkes.
We were not alone.  Even arriving before 11–when it opens–we found a long line.  So for the next 90 minutes, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.  By the way, the couple in front of us are redoing their bathroom.  The couple behind us chose the wrong shirts for the weather: poly blend rather than cotton.  I was wearing a cotton sundress.  It was a good call.

And waited … now with sitting.

And waited … now with lurking artfully in a corner.

And waited just outside the front door, remembering when we were at the end of this line.

And, then we were in!  Check out that fully set table.  Our companions were from NYC: she was a photographer, he worked at Google.  Here’s what we ate: fried chicken, barbeque pork, brunswick stew, mashed potatoes, white rice, gravy, red rice with sausage, creamed corn, green beans, greens, mac and cheese, succotash, rutabaga, sweet potatoes with raisins, stuffing, yellow squash casserole, cucumbers in vinegar, biscuits, corn muffins, peach cobbler, banana pudding, and sweet tea.  $20 a head; $10 for children.  You can feel your accent growing and slowing as you eat, and soon a haze of cholesterol and happiness fills you.

This is what we looked like after … stuffed!

After lunch, we split up.  Tyson and Gaby were on the road back to Gainesville; we decided to wander a bit before driving back to Jacksonville.

Savannah’s charms are all around.  Secret gardens of verdant delights.

Cobblestone streets canopied by old friends reaching across the street in greeting.

The shock of the new by SCAD that still brings the familiar Southern preppy pink.

Square upon square of graceful oaks, welcome benches, and memorials to soldiers and statesmen long forgotten.

Neighborhoods that welcome tourists with Southern hospitality while still keeping their distance.

SCAD’s modern and postmodern and post-postmodern omnipresence that never overwhelms history.

Shady stops on sunny streets that bring music to the breeze.

Random eccentricities that mean the gothic side of Southern is never far away.

And, us, Northerners who will always feel equally at home in warmer climes.

Even as we look for the NY that hides within all wonderful cities.

We said goodbye to Savannah and followed the puffy clouds to JAX, hopped a jet back home …

and fell asleep dreaming of peaches and fried chicken!

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