I know this post is supposed to be wordless, but the story behind it is too good to keep to myself. The picture was taken while my family was visiting St. Simons Island, the day after we took a ghost tour of the town. The host of the tour mentioned the “spirit trees” around the island, and had pulled over beside a tavern to point out this particular one. It was dark, so we decided to go back the next day to get a really good look at it. I’m so glad we did. The image really speaks to me. I see in the image a woman who seems to hold deep sadness in her face, with her wrinkles around her eyes revealing the worry she’s endured in her lifetime.
So, imagine my surprise when I started digging around on the web to find out more about the spirit trees and read that they were carvings of men, either Indians or mariners who had lost their lives at sea around the region. I kept digging and ultimately found the name and contact info for Keith Jennings, the man behind the carvings. I couldn’t resist calling him to ask him for the rest of the story.
It turns out he started the carvings in the early 80’s, in a tree in his own backyard “mostly out of boredom”. Well, after the second tree carving, people started commissioning him to carve faces in their trees, too. He tells me the trees pretty much dictated what face would eventually surface. And he also shared that the tree that I found so beautiful, the one I assumed was a woman, he also believed was a woman, although others always saw a man. But isn’t that the point of art? Each person may see something different. Another cool trivia fact? He carved that one for the owner of Murphy’s Tavern, next to where the tree is located, to pay off a bar tab. Nifty little arrangement, huh?
There are many spirit trees around the island, with four or five on public property. He’s been commissioned to do ten more as soon as he can get back to St. Simons Island.
If you want to know more about St. Simons, read this.