Spanish Moss, Chiggers, And Nail Polish

We live in the heart of downtown Savannah, in America’s largest historic district. “The Jewel Of The South” is an international vacation destination you may have heard of before: Ask a longtime local what my hometown is famous for and most will mention unforgettably elegant historic squares, the glorious 18th and 19th century architectural styles, and epic Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. If, however, you rephrase the question to inquire, “What do people do to relax in Savannah?” you might hear about spending lazy afternoons under our stately live oaks draped with sumptuous Spanish moss.

Local artist Jose Ray painted this young lady reading a book and lounging in a live oak tree draped with Spanish moss on the side of 40space at 40th and Drayton Streets. The mural is part of the public art project by Savannah Art Walls - or SeeS.A.W. that tells the story of the YMCA. Hair: Heather Harris, Appearances Salon

In my opinion, our historic squares are the heart and soul of the city and Savannah’s most unforgettable attraction. Hubby and I don’t usually walk more than a couple of squares away from home without seeing people taking photographs who have traveled from across the world. It’s easy to identify tourists because they’re often looking up at our amazing trees with a sense of wonderment or holding large, unfolded maps of the squares. I’ve heard guides tell visitors to Savannah that moss doesn’t grow in the squares where hangings took place back in the 1700’s because the unfortunate fellows who were unlucky enough to meet death by hanging circled back to spread terror as ghosts. While Savannah is known as the United States’ most haunted city, the truth is that the missing moss was probably taken down for movies to be filmed and just never grew back. (Famous films shot within blocks of where we live include “Forrest Gump,” and “Something To Talk About.”)


There is a mysterious lack of moss in Johnson Square, where Revolutionary War Hero General Nathanael Greene was buried beneath a monument. It’s said that the moss was cursed when the General was moved there because it reminded him of his grandaddy’s beard.

Savannah’s Spanish moss has been the hiding spot for many an Easter egg.

There’s one other thing I can tell you about our moss and that is that I’ve personally stopped tourists from packing it up in Ziploc bags to bring home as a vacation souvenir. Folks don’t realize you can get red bug “chigger” bites by over-handling live oak moss. These itchy, little bites are a nuisance. But they're only truly disturbing if you don’t know what they are and how easy it is to get rid of them. That said, I’ve never been more grateful for a bottle of clear nail polish than I was after waking up with half a dozen chigger bites on my arm. Thankfully, the bites will go away within 24 hours with just a tiny dot of “manicure medicine.” We travel frequently so I’m always packing polish. I keep it in my suitcase because besides clearing up bug bites, clear nail polish can refresh a manicure, stop a run in your tights, make it easier to push thread through the eye of a needle, seal an envelope, prevent costume jewelry from tarnishing, and help keep a loose button intact.

It would be a shame to miss the amazing hikes or picnics Savannah offers for fear of the relatively harmless little chigger. After all, Wormsloe Plantation can be one of the most unforgettably romantic places in the world.

Suzana Barton is the the founder of www.happygreatday.com , a travel and fashion blog. She researches simple ideas to put a smile on your face. 👠💛🚐🧡✈️


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