Hearth Volume 4 | Finding Peace in Savannah

Editors Note:
Volume 4’s cover featured pictures taken by the amazing Izzy Rae Photography, our dear friend Elizabeth. Hearth wouldn’t be here without the help of two people Tonya and I love a lot – Assistant Editor Emily Fonnesbeck and Head Writer Gray Gill. These two are the epitome of talented, classy and patient people. Their writing styles are different, but they just come together and blend seamlessly. When I read their work, I feel inspired. We feel so blessed to be surrounded by awesome people.

The magazine starts out with an article from Gray called An Authentic Experience. The combination of beautiful words and photos by Nina and Wes Photography go together so well. We finish up Volume 4 with an article from Emily called Integral Ballet with photos by Cassandra Photo. While Gray is our unofficially adopted little brother, Emily is our cousin. She goes along with every scheme Tonya and I cook up and we love her. Her story recounts an experience going to the ballet with our aunt, Favorite Aunt Pat (or FAP for short). It’s really beautiful and the photos are so elegant.

In between these stories are so many more examples of beautiful words and breath taking photos. I don’t know how we get so lucky to work with some of the best writers and photographers in the world. We feel like the two luckiest girls in the galaxy. Volume 4 is really lovely and I hope you will take the time to immerse yourself in it.



Finding Peace in Savannah | Personal Essay
Words & Photos by Amy Jo Royall


I had always heard about the old dock that seemed to go for miles, which hovered over the marsh and led from the backyard to the waterway on the Isle of Hope. I grew up hearing about Savannah, Georgia from my entire family. To me, it was a small town no one knew about, save me and my family, although I had never been there. My dad and his sibling grew up spending time on the beaches of Tybee Island, catching crabs and swinging from the big oak tree in my great grandparent’s yard.

My Great Grandpa Jim passed when I was a child. I mostly remember sitting on his lap as he played cards and me graciously giving him some magic monkey dust for good luck when we drew from the deck. My Great Grandma Oleta taught me to do what I love, although she probably never realized it. She was an amazing painter, a silverware thief, a baseball fan, the wife of an Air Force Pilot (a world traveler because of it), and a talented golfer until the last years of her long life.

When Grandma Oleta passed away last year, I was unable to attend the funeral and be with my family. I frantically went through the heirlooms I have of hers and even searched the internet for random information on her and her life. I wanted so badly to feel close but I felt like I was just grasping at air.

My dad helped me look at my grandparent’s old house on Google Earth. I zoomed in on it and looked at the neighborhood for hours. I tried to imagine what their lives were like in this magical place call Savannah as I “walked” up and down their street. I planned and schemed ways for me to get there but nothing seemed to work out. I promised myself I would get there as soon as I could. Then I let it go. One week later, with a week’s notice, I ended up there with my best friend and my grandma’s old Polaroid camera.

No matter how hard I try to describe this trip, I could never do it justice, because it was much more than just another vacation. This trip was so special to me and my heart warms when I think of the things I learned about my grandparents – the stories I heard and the feelings I felt. This quiet experience somehow made me feel closer to them than I have in a long time. Maybe even closer than I have ever felt to them.


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