Tree Talk

Many people say their spirits are rejuvenated when they spend time in the forest. For residents and visitors on St. Simons Island, Ga., extra doses of tree spirit are always close at hand.

Since the early 1980’s, artist Keith Jennings has been carving hauntingly beautiful faces into area trees. The vestiges that emerge from trunks and crooks of about 20 island oaks have become known as the “St. Simons Tree Spirits.”

“Everybody asks me what the story is behind them,” said Jennings. “I don’t have one, but people make up stories, and that’s my favorite part of the experience.” Many islanders believe the carvings memorialize local sailors who were lost at sea in boats made of island oak.

Jennings said his creations represent his personal connection with the trees and the island he lived on for 20 years. “I always see things in trees. There’s naturally spirits in the trees, too; they’re alive.”

Saint Simons is the second largest barrier island of Georgia, located in Glynn County, and known for its historic landmarks and unique natural environment. Not wanting to draw people away from that native beauty, Jennings hopes his art work draws passersby into noticing the stunning vegetation surrounding it.

“I love those big trees,” said Jennings, “and it sort of brings awareness to the trees. People look at them in a different light. A lot of people just walk by, and they will not even see a tree. This makes them stop and notice.”

For a map of St. Simons’ Tree Spirits, click here.

Tree Spirits’ Facebook page is:

St. Simons Tree Spirits

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