Make Dad’s Mouth Water With Grill-Seared Rib Dinner This Father’s Day at Swampfire!

SwampFire Backwoods Bistro will be open this weekend on Friday and Saturday 5:30-9 p.m., and - for Father’s Day - on  Sunday, June 20, from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., with a mouth-watering treat for the men in your life: hot off the grill seared pork ribs!  

Leroy Holmes of neighboring Camden is known among discerning SwampFire diners as one of the region's finest grill masters. He will be at SwampFire on Sunday, preparing each plate with his special seasonings and sauce.  

If you're not up for Ribs, then order one of our Swampfire Ribeye Steak or Seafood Dinners.  You won't be disappointed!

Seating is limited. Walk-ins are welcome.

Call today: 912-390-9454

Try, Try Again: Remembering Daddy’s Patience and Lessons of Love

The Carter Girls: Grace, Sue, Kathy, me, and Phyllis Anne with their father, Clarence, and mother, Gladys, about 1957.

The memories of my father, Clarence Carter, remain as clear as though they were yesterday.   When I think of him, patience is a word that immediately comes to mind.  Back in those days, our household consisted of my parents, my four sisters, my grandmother, and cousin Gloria, who came to live with us after her mother died.  Eight women, my dad, and one bathroom. Yes, he was a patient man.  

But there were many occasions where his patience was especially apparent.  

Daddy's patience was unmistakable as he taught each of his five daughters first to ride a horse and later drive a car. We learned to ride a horse while he led us around the pasture countless times.  Our job was to hold onto the saddle horn and not fall off the horse. Eventually, we were encouraged to ride using the reins instead of the saddle horn.   Because of his countless steps in that pasture, he instilled the confidence and courage to ride, even though we were afraid to try.   

Learning to drive a car was "A horse of a different color." As we each turned 16, our driving education began on rural back roads in our 1957 Chevrolet.  Our instructions went something like this. "Slow down," he would say. "Don't go too fast."  "Always give the right of way to the other fellow, even if he doesn't deserve it." "Watch out for young’uns on bicycles.  You never know which way they'll go."   

According to my mother, he possessed that same patience when he taught her to drive after they married in 1942. She loved to tell that story!  

He would remark, "I wish you would stop telling people I taught you to drive. It doesn't give me much credit because I didn't do a good job." 

Daddy thought she drove too fast (which she did), tended to slam on brakes (which she did), and claimed the car would jump 10 feet as the vehicle left the driveway as she headed for work (which it did) As with each telling of the story, she would laugh and laugh.  

He would just smile.  

He tried to teach her to ride a horse.  She had no knack for riding, but he tried and tried again.  Finally, my mother gave up the dream of riding, much to the relief of both them and the horse. 

When he tried to teach her to swim, he finally said the best thing  for her would be "to stay in shallow water." 

In addition to our ponies, we had a milk cow, a steer, and a few chickens.   Each evening, we would be on Daddy's heels as he headed to the barn to "feed up" and milk the cow.  As we crowded into the tiny stall behind him, he would say, "Don't get behind the cow.  She’ll kick." 

So, we naturally moved in closer to him, waiting our turn to try milking. Of course, knowing we would never become proficient in milking,  he allowed us to try, day after day. That's patience. 

He was an amazing father who loved his daughters. But it was the love he shared with my mother, the kind of love that lasts forever, that I remember so well. And his patience.    

Happy Father's Day.  May your day be filled with treasured memories like mine.    

Do You Live Above or Below Georgia’s ‘Gnat Line?’ Here’s What You Need to Know

Having lived near the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia my entire life, I’ve never given much thought to gnats. A seasonal nuisance, gnats are dealt with similar to the arrangement I have with yellow flies:  I swat, slap, spray, fan, wave, and complain. In short, I hope to eliminate a few of the bothersome pests before they carry me off. 

 Unfortunately, our sweltering summer months, sandy soil, and excessive rains serve as a welcome mat for gnats. They travel in moving gnat clouds, a pretty way of saying “swarming droves of gnats.”

When you live below the Georgia Gnat Line, gnat sightings such as these are inevitable. 

For the uninformed, please know that the Gnat Line does exist and roughly follows the Georgia Fall Line, that imaginary line from Columbus to Macon and Augusta. The Fall Line marks the end of red clay and the beginning of the sandy soil so beloved by gnats.

How do you determine your gnat tolerance?  It’s all about “where you’re from.” Your primary residence will affect your gnat rating. Now, do you live above or below the gnat line?

  •  If you sit on the porch, are you immediately swarmed by gnats?
  •  If you leave the back door open while bringing in the groceries, do gnats come into your home uninvited? 
  • Do you live south of Macon? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you definitely live below the Gnat Line, and your gnat rating is likely excellent. Congratulations! 

Folks who live above the Georgia Gnat Line have often mistaken a gnat for a flea, fruit fly, or “some kind of black bug.” Unfortunately, they do not have a proper understanding of these pesky insects, so their gnat tolerance may register as a low-level rating. 

Here are a few suggestions for folks from above the gnat line while visiting friends below the gnat line.

  1. Make a gnat trap.
    My husband creates a gnat trap made with apple cider vinegar. Mix a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a few drops of dish soap, and a tablespoon of sugar in a bowl.  After mixing, set the bowl where gnats seem most prevalent.  The sugar and vinegar attract the gnats. The soap traps the gnats causing them to drown eventually.  Simple, right?  Not for my husband.  Instead of making a few bowls for the house, he mixes it by the gallon and places the solution in large plastic hanging bags to eradicate the entire outdoors gnat population.
  2. Clean the drains.
    Another favorite is to pour diluted bleach down the drains. Undiluted vinegar also works.
  3. Crash and burn tactics.
    Partially fill a candle holder with water, light the candle, turn off the lights and watch your gnat friends swarm to the flame, where they will meet their demise.
  4. Avoidance.
    Local athletes swear by eating raw sweet onions like apples. I haven’t been able to get past the “like apples” part. And I’m pretty sure gnats chug insect repellant for fun.
  5. Grin and Bear It.
    Some days, I just grin and bear it without the grin. By grinning, you may inadvertently swallow a gnat, which is one gnat too many.

In the end, it’s probable that the most sensible approach if you have a lingering gnat infestation is to contact your pest control service to deal with these uninvited guests. Meanwhile, I’ll stick with the tried and true methods of swatting, fanning, spraying, waving, and complaining.

Horse Crazy Kiddos? Put ‘em In the Saddle At Newell Lodge Horse Camp!

A superior riding experience designed for the 9-12 year old  in your life who “needs” a horse. Foster responsibility, confidence and independence while engaging, learning and growing with horses.

Are you the parent of a horse-crazy child who "needs" a horse?  Rest assured, you are not alone. However, there is an easy solution to your dilemma, which doesn't involve purchasing a horse. Instead, put your child in the saddle at Newell Lodge Horse Camp.  

This year Newell Lodge will host its 12th annual summer camp for horse lovers ages 9-12.  At Newell, we want children to develop a lasting relationship with their horses, enriching and transforming their lives. That’s why this year’s theme is “Horses Go to Hollywood!”

All students will expand their knowledge of horses in an atmosphere designed for safety, personal growth, and fun.  What's in store for your young horse lover?  

  1.  Riding Skills. Develop good foundational riding skills for both the first-time rider and the more advanced rider.  Our staff will work with each child individually as they become more proficient riders.   
  2. Horse Ownership.  An in-depth look at the responsibilities and costs that are so important for horse ownership.   Campers will realize the commitment, hard work, and joy that goes into caring for a horse. 
  3. Confidence & Independence.  Through up-close interaction with the horse, riders will learn to overcome their fears in a safe, fostering environment. 
  4. Exercise.  Daily riding develops muscle strength and endurance for both the rider and the horse.  
  5. Hands-on participation.  Campers will be allowed to participate in the daily routine of feeding, watering, grooming, barn maintenance, and providing care for horses, along with the two goats and several chickens. 
  6.  Social Skills.  Riders will find themselves in a positive social environment with other kids who share their passion for horses. They will enjoy the interaction with other campers as they complete craft projects and other activities.   
  7. Loads of Fun.  Campers are never bored!  Horse camp is an age-appropriate equine immersion experience. As a result, many of our campers come back year after year.  

If you're a parent who's on the fence about horse camp, we're happy to answer any questions you have.  Call today: 912-496-2838


June 7-10 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 14-17 Ages 5-8 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 21-24 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lunch, snacks, & water provided.  Each child will receive a camp t-shirt.  

The cost is $180 per child, with preferred rates for multiple family members or those attending both scheduled camps.  

A preferred family rate is also available for cottage rentals during the week of camp.

Top 7 Reasons Parents Love Horse Camp at Newell Lodge Proof that Horse Camp Is More Than Just Riding Horses

"Pleeease." If your kiddo Is asking to saddle up for horse camp at Newell Lodge, here are top 7 reasons parents love the experience.

  1. Horse People are Responsible People.
    Campers come to understand the commitment, hard work, and joy that goes into caring for a horse.
  2. Horse Care & Riding Skills.
    Kiddos learn to properly feed and care for horses.  They also learn good, foundational riding skills or advance their existing skills.
  3. Gain confidence and independence.   
    Riders learn to overcome their fears in a safe, fostering environment.
  4. Exercise.
    Daily riding develops muscle strength and endurance.
  5. Disconnect and Recharge. 
    Horse Camp is the perfect place for children to disconnect from their daily routines.  Parents are overjoyed to learn it's impossible to text and ride. Here, screen time Is limited, so kids can be themselves and enjoy nature.
  6. Develop social skills. 
    Riders will find themselves in a positive social environment with other kids who share their passion for horses.
  7. Horse Camp is loads of FUN. 
    Campers are never bored! Horse camp Is an age-appropriate equine Immersion experience. They have so much fun, that many of our campers come back year after year.

If you're a parent who's on the fence about horse camp, we're happy to answer any questions you have. Call today: 912-496-2838


June 7-10 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 14-17 Ages 5-8 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 21-24 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lunch, snacks, & water provided.  Each child will receive a camp t-shirt.  

The cost is $180 per child, with preferred rates for multiple family members or those attending both scheduled camps.  

A preferred family rate is also available for cottage rentals during the week of camp.

Starts Monday! “Don’t Fence Me In! Newell Lodge Offers Horse Camp for Ages 5-8

Logan Gowen, 9, enjoys an afternoon ride on Little Red, his favorite horse, at Newell Lodge and Resort.

As every kid knows, time spent with a horse is never wasted! Welcome to “Don’t Fence Me In,” the horse camp developed especially for beginning riders ages 5-8. Starts May 24 at Newell Lodge and Resort

Join us! We kick off our 2021 Horse Camp series with a group session, Beginning Riding Skills. Designed for riders aged 5-8, the camp helps young riders develop and tone muscles, increase strength and stamina while on the back of the horse. Our small group setting and 1:5 student to teacher allows participants to focus on the safest ways to mount, dismount, stop their horse, walk the horse. More advanced students may also be allowed to trot their horses.

Horses are happier in a clean, functional barn. Our campers will be introduced to the primary care of the barns and stables. With adult supervision, they’ll practice basic, age-appropriate skills needed to maintain a functional barn. For example, they may push a wheelbarrow, search for dangerous objects that may injure the horse, fill the feed buckets, and more.

Our qualified instructors include academic enrichment in the daily camp routine. Campers will use simple math, bioscience, and horse-related vocabulary as they go about their day. They will answer real-world questions, such as

🐴 How much water does a horse drink a day?
Can you measure 2 cups of feed?
How do we measure the height of a horse?
And more!

Don’t you agree that childhood should be timeless? That’s why we limit screen time in favor of hands-on arts, crafts, songs, skits, or preparing simple horse treats. Activities celebrating a shared love of horses brings new friends together and old friends closer.

2021 Horse Camp “Don’t Fence Me In,” for children aged 5-8, offers two sessions, May 24-27 and June 14-17. Space is limited. Call Now: 912-496-2838

Saddle Up! 2021 Summer Horse Camp! Reserve Your Kid's Happy Place Today!

For the Love of Horses

Harvin Carter is a dreamer with vision.  With that vision is an unrelenting aspiration to make dreams become a reality.  Newell Lodge is the culmination of a daydream and his boyhood love of horses.

Today, Newell Lodge wears many hats, but the original purpose remains intact.  The lodge is the perfect setting for horse lovers to experience their heart-centered horse sense.

Thanks to Harvin and my sister, Sue, an avid horsewoman, five energetic and enthusiastic young riders, the first Newell Lodge summer camp became a reality in 2010.   The week was undoubtedly a success, not only as a time of learning but from the absolute joy of spending a week with horses.

 This year Newell Lodge will host its 12th summer camp.  Our goals and objectives remain the same.  We desire that all students develop a lasting relationship with their horses, enriching, healing, and transforming their lives.

At Newell Lodge Horse Camp, campers will learn basic riding skills or advance existing skills.  In addition, they will have an opportunity to expand their horsemanship knowledge in an atmosphere designed for safety, fun, personal achievement, and advancement through their love of horses.  Take a look at what we have planned.


May 24-27 Ages 5-8 Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 7-10 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 14-17 Ages 5-8 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 21-24 Ages 9-12 Monday- Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lunch, snacks, & water provided.  Each child will receive a camp t-shirt.  

The cost is $180 per child, with preferred rates for multiple family members or those attending both scheduled camps.  

A preferred family rate is available for cottage rentals during the week of camp.

Each camper will experience: 

🐴 Personalized Riding Instruction

🐴 Leaning basic horse skills

🐴 Barn Management

🐴 Barn Safety for humans & horses

🐴  Grooming & Tack

🐴 Horse Health & First Aid, Nutrition

🐴 Arts, Crafts, Skits,& Songs

Call the lodge for more info or to book: 912-496-2838

We look forward to seeing you there!


Mothers Know Everything: A Case of Forbidden Love

As a teenager, I was bored to tears listening to my elders as they reminisced of days forever gone.  Memories resurface, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with those “boring” people as they share their childhood stories.  The booming sound of my Uncle Elbert laughter echoes, in my mind, as he shares childhood antics.

I clearly see my mother’s beautiful smile as she recalls those same memories.

One of my favorite stories involved my mother, Gladys, my Aunt Mildred, their cousin, Mary Emma, and her mother, Martha, affectionately known as Aunt Mark.  The three young ladies, Gladys, Mildred, and Mary Emma were between 16 and 17 years of age, at the time this “incident” occurred.

Mary Emma had fallen deeply in love with a young man, who was also 16 years old.  For whatever reason, which was never disclosed in the numerous retellings of the story, Aunt Mark did not approve of the relationship nor of the young man.  In fact, Mary Emma was not allowed to see him.  As is the case of most forbidden loves, Mary Emma was determined to continue the relationship despite her mother’s instructions.  The relationship did continue, but, in secret.  In fact, it wasn’t long before Mary Emma and her young beau decided they would marry.

The news of the pending marriage was shared with Mary Emma’s most loved and trusted cousins, Gladys and Mildred.  They were sworn to secrecy, as the three of them planned the elopement.

Planning an elopement is not as easy as one might think.  Remember, this was 1940, when most families did not have telephones, much less a cell phone and the word, texting, was not in the dictionary.   The lack of communication was no obstacle to the girls.  Mary Emma’s happiness was at stake.  In their opinion, Aunt Mark was standing in the way of true love.

The plan was devised, though it was both simple and unimaginative.  It was, after all, the first and only elopement in which these three young girls would ever engage.  An overnight stay with Mary Emma was arranged and perhaps the only thing that went according to the plan.  After the family was asleep, Mary Emma would leave through the bedroom window, where her fiancé would be waiting.

At this point of the story, my mother would interject, “we never gave any thought to what we would tell Aunt Mark the next morning when she discovered Mary Emma was gone.”

As they waited for the darkness, Gladys and Mildred assisted Mary Emma as she packed a few clothes in a small suitcase.  All was ready.  Darkness descended and the appointed time quickly approached.  The window was quietly raised, and nervous goodbyes were shared.   As Mary Emma climbed on the window- sill, preparing to make her descent, the three girls looked down and standing outside beneath the window was Aunt Mark, along with the young bridegroom. Waiting.  Not a word was spoken.

Mary Emma quickly pulled herself back into the bedroom as they heard Aunt Mark’s no-nonsense, sharp tongue send the boy on his way, never to return.  Mary Emma, Gladys, and Mildred waited as they heard the back door close.  After a good “talking-to” and “what were you youngins’  thinking”, and “better, NEVER do anything like this again”, the three wedding planners retired for the night.

As with each telling of this escapade, my mother would conclude the story, by saying, “We never figured out how Aunt Mark found out what we were planning.”

Perhaps, it was just another stellar story of how mothers know everything.

Happy Mother’s Day

Microwave Replacement

Today, sprigs of green are peeping out of the earth, pushing aside the tired and frazzled burnt-brown grass. Like a connect the dots puzzles, they form a clear picture: spring has finally arrived.

Suddenly, I’m energized.  

After being cooped up since the onset of the pandemic last year, I am now compelled to sanitize and reorganize my entire house, using the two-year rule.  If you haven’t used it or moved it in two years, out the door it goes.

First, my closets.  After watching several episodes of Forensic Files, it was obvious the camera man seemed to linger on the cluttered bedroom closets of the crime scene.  By the looks of them, anyone could have been mine. How embarrassing!

Not anymore.  After today, if my bedroom ever becomes a crime scene, TV viewers will be impressed with an uncluttered and tidy closet.  

Following the completion of the bedrooms and bath, tackling the kitchen presented its own challenges. The less than shiny appearance of my worn appliances shouted their ages.   Specifically, my Amana microwave oven, which I purchased nearly 36 years ago. That microwave has been with me as long as my husband!

I was pleased with my new microwave, all those years ago.  It was sleek, attractive, and operated flawlessly.   In the early years of marriage, my husband possessed these same qualities.  

It soon became evident that the microwave wasn’t quite what it used to be.  Little things.  The numbers 4,5,7, 8, & 9 no longer worked.  The reset button finally decided to throw in the dish towel and retired.   The microwave still functioned, just not quite as well.  Sadly, the same could be said for my husband.  

For instance, on any normal workday, my husband would shower, dress, have two cups of coffee and out the door, headed to work within 25 minutes.  Now, it’s closer to an hour before his finishes his second cup of coffee.  Fifteen minutes later, he’s still staring at his shoes, sitting directly in front of him.  No problem, just takes him a minute or two longer to get cooking. 

The interior of the oven is worn and yellowed with age.  As I glance at my husband, he too, looks a little frayed and pale.  It must be the lighting, I reason.  

Remembering the two year rule,  I decide to replace the old, worn-out microwave with a brand new one.  There was a momentary twinge of sadness as I unplugged the old microwave.  That Amana Radarange has been sitting in its prime location above the kitchen countertop for nearly 36 years, watching as the life this family unfolded.  Memories surfaced; like the time someone tried to reheat rice in a stainless steel pot.  Not to mention the thousands of bags of popcorn which were cooked and consumed while watching Disney movies with our grandsons. 

My husband walks into the kitchen, as I’m removing the microwave.  “Are you getting rid of the microwave?” He asks. “ We’ve had that thing for a long time.  It’s been a good one.”  

I look at my husband, then at the microwave.  Then, back at my husband.  The microwave is old, but it still works.  So, what if it’s temperamental and a little difficult to operate at times?  Time has aged the oven, making the interior slightly worn and yellowed.  A few of the parts are worn out.  New isn’t always better.  It’s just new.  

The new microwave is still in the box.  I’ll return it tomorrow, keeping what I’ve had for a long time.  “It’s been a good one.”  Both the microwave and the husband. 

Spring cleaning is done.   

What kind of Valentine’s Dazzler Are You?

The signal is clear: Christmas decorations are down. Valentine’s Day decorations are up.

Even the most relationship-challenged among us know it is time to start preparing for the most romantic day of the year.  Thoughts, quite naturally, turn to flowers, gifts, chocolates, or a special evening out at our favorite restaurant.

What gift, what special gift, will dazzle the object of our affections?

It depends. On you.

Exactly what kind of Valentine’s dazzler are you?

Keep reading to find out!

The Starry Eyed Romantic

The starry-eyed romantic who begins searching 40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day the day after Christmas. You narrow it down to 2.  You can’t decide between, A Fun Day at the Shooting Range or Go on a Shopping Spree Together.

The shopping spree is out for me.  In 36 years of marriage, I’ve never seen my husband in a Wal-Mart or a grocery store.   This is not the year to spend the day at the mall.

The shooting range is out for my husband.  In 36 years of marriage, wise man that he is, has never handed me a loaded gun. This is not the year to make our debut at the shooting range.

Click here for starry-eyed solutions to your Valentine’s dilemma.

The Non-Romantic

The non-romantic.  You’re a loving person, but romantic thoughts elude you, no matter how hard you try to come up with just one unique idea.    

My husband sends flowers (same flowers, every year) and a florist card, with his name on it.  No “hugs & kisses”, no “I love you”, no “you mean the world to me”.  Just his name.  Always good to remember who he is, I guess.

Click here for non-romantic ways to be exceedingly romantic.

The Postponer

You rush into Walgreens at 6:00 p.m., grab a box of conversation hearts and the remaining Valentine card, which you realize, after leaving the store, says, “Hugs & Kisses for Grandma.”  You’re not his grandmother.  You’re his wife.   

So, the hugs and kisses were for Grandma.

Why postpone hugs and kisses? That’s sad.

Click here to make certain you get lots of affection.

And then, there’s our absolute favorite.

The Heartfelt Seeker

Searching for the perfect, dazzling Valentine’s Day gift? Something fresh, delightful and new. And that is just a little bit dazzling for you, two… I mean, too? We know where to find just the thing for the heartfelt seeker that is you.

Click here for heartfelt Valentine’s surprises sure to dazzle and delight!