Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas in Savannah

With our children now thousand miles away and family spread out across the country, neither my husband and I were looking forward to a silent Christmas morning, so we decided to spend the holiday with another empty-nesting couple in one of our favorite cities, Savannah, Georgia.

We've visited Savannah several times, but as with Charleston (my other favorite city) there is always more to see and to learn, and I'm now to the point of connecting dots between events. For instance, I had no idea Savannah was settled for the purpose of protecting Charleston from Spanish attacks. Upon hearing that, my high respect for this magnolia of a town increased.

If you're not familiar with Savannah, the historic district is a lush, leafy garden year round. The grid of squares that once housed forts (twenty one squares now remain) are now parks filled with moss-laden live oaks, palms, magnolias and camellias, with sidewalks and monuments marking historical people or events, and benches where visitors can sit and enjoy the view.

Hubby in Johnson Square at the statue of John Wesley
Thanks to a friend who wrote a novel based on colonial events in South Carolina, I paid better attention to the monument (and grave site) of Nataniel Greene, the Revolutionary War hero who was once buried in nearby Colonial Cemetery, which was vandalized by Union soldiers staying there during Sherman's visit, but who was later moved to Johnson Square (not his namesake, Greene Square. But that's okay, because the statue of Oglethorpe isn't in Oglethorpe Square).

As we learned on this trip, in gratitude of his service to the new nation, Greene, a former New England resident, had been granted land and a plantation near Savannah proper, but died of heat stroke shortly after taking up residence.

I also learned the mother of Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was responsible for procuring the stone monument that now sits atop the grave of Tomochichi (also buried in Johnson Square), the chief of the Yamacaw tribe living in the area when Oglethorpe landed on the bluff of what is now Savannah. Tomochichi served as intermediary between Oglethorpe and the natives.

We saw the spot where the community ovens once sat, and heard about the devasting fires those ovens started, and passed the square where executions were once held. Savannah is a favorite setting for moviemakers, and squares and historic houses were used in Glory, Something to Talk About, Forrest Gump, and, of course, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I also found out which house was used in The Conspirator.

There was so much more, but I'm still trying to absorb it all. A wonderful place, and we had a great time walking around the squares and historic River Street despite the strong storms that hit the southeast. I enjoyed the entire trip up to the point where I discovered I'd left my anniversary band in the hotel. I'm terribly upset about that, but at least we had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Savannah.

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