Vacations

Remember when life was simple?

On a recent, warmish day following last week’s historic winter storm, I sat in the swing under one of the hundreds of old oak trees here at Newell Lodge. As I lazily pushed the swing with my foot, the creaking of the chain broke the unending silence of the morning.

In my mind, the screen door slams as my sisters and I hit the ground running. I can still hear my mother’s voice, “Don’t slam the door.” We did anyway, time and again.

We played outside most of each day we weren’t in school and enjoyed every minute of it.  We climbed on top of our old grapevine, played dolls, rode our bikes around the block, got stuck in the sand, and skinned our knees when we finally fell. Then, helped one another up, and tried again.  

Nostalgic for those days, I realized that in this moment, sitting here, life is simpler.

Right here, right now.

That textured life for which we yearn is here, unfolded before me. The massive oaks dripping with Spanish moss, the horses frolicking in the pasture, the red headed woodpecker making his rat-a-tat music in the trees, the yard chickens walking around pecking, as though they own the place – each possesses a loveliness all its own.  

Newell offers the splendor of the absolute silence.  Yes, a blessed silence, where I can remember who I am, where I came from, and allow myself the luxury of just being me.  

If given the opportunity, each of us would weave beauty, simplicity, and nature into the fabric of our lives.. The naturalness found here, amid nature, offers hearts, souls, and minds a rest from reality, time to reflect and rejuvenate. Nothing presses upon us.  

Then I understand. Perhaps Newell is memorable for what is not here: no high levels of excitement, no iPhone games, no email messages, no schedules, and no demands other than those we choose for ourselves.

In a word, simplicity.

When I try to convey the concept of Newell, I find I am not explaining a place, but an emotion.  Newell affects me, just as it affects each person who visits. Newell has a spirit, a desire to be, a presence. As our guests arrive and depart, I am saying all the right things, when I really wish to urge them to “capture the soul of Newell and see what I see, feel what I feel.”  

Newell is more than land and cottages, it is a spirit of endless summers, bicycle rides, the slam of screen doors, the enchantment of fireflies, family bonfires, and the lure of Spanish moss.

Sharing the simplicity and renewal and joy that is Newell is my passion.

Perhaps it could be yours, too?

Kay Carter is a Southern hospitality consultant, hostess and owner at Newell Lodge and Resort at the Okefenokee Swamp. Email her directly at newell.lodge@gmail.com.