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An Afternoon Escape

It was an adventure, every time, to walk through the bushes that began just beyond the backdoor of the kitchen. The path began just behind the galvanized tubs my mother washed our clothes in. I ducked beneath the laundry on the line and I was gone, following forest ways where the goats and monkeys had bent boughs and branches and where the water had made ruts in the earth. I’d slip away to play, before my mother could call out chores, and spend my afternoon stalking Zenaida doves in the tangled wood. As I moved farther from the house the wispy vines and nettles gave way to broader leaves and the trees became taller. The color of the earth changed too, marking where the mountain began.

The paths lead up to a high hilltop field that had been cleared long ago for grazing and where ponds had been dug for water. There were ancient stone walls and the ruins of animal pens where bees had made their hives. Lost in the soil were broken bits of pottery and rusted debris that told the story of a village from long ago. Amidst the pale grass were scattered white cattle bones, and overall the smell of arid earth and honey.

The other day, to see if I still knew the way, I set out to find the old field. I took my family with me, though I feared the ponds might have dried up, or filled in with the silt of the years that had passed since I was a boy. I feared my children would grow tired before we found what we were looking for and that we’d turn back with them wondering why I had led them up the mountain at all. But my daughters ran ahead of me, like children chasing fairies, like I used to chase the doves, and they found on their own the pools that I remembered, and the pools were still filled with pink lilies.

Gardening joys

Joys of a garden   I wanted to grow a garden but the rain would not fall. I drew water from the well every day but the ground stayed hard, so I waited for the dry season to pass. Six months went by. When the rains finally came it took two weeks before the hard...

Winged Dragons

When the Winged Dragons Come We live on the mountain, where the cool winds blow and the Zenaida doves fly home to roost. We see pockets of villages and houses scattered across the long sloping green that leads down to the sea. From our elevation it's as...

Anansi

A spider crawled across the lawn, delicately treading on blades of grass that bent very slightly beneath his weight. Silent as a shadow, but not hard to miss, a fist-sized grey form upon the green, what we call a Donkey Spider. He lives in the ground, in...

Rainbows

We have gremlins in our midst. They are little creatures that like to cause trouble; tinkering with water pipes and chewing on power lines. From the corner of my eye, I have seen them burrow into the garden with mischievous and dirty hands. We do our best...

The Old Pier

The airport runway on Nevis runs directly along the beach, and halfway down the middle reaching off into the sea is an old wooden pier with a rusted crane. The pier is locked in a bay, bound by a reef, and inaccessible by car or by boat. It stands in the...

Jumbie Table

When we returned to Nevis after our honeymoon my wife and I moved into our house with a peculiar feeling of being followed. There seemed to lurk a prickly cloud of cold by the front door. Little things seemed out of place, pictures on the table kept...

Pantyhead

We speak our own dialect in Nevis, it is a version of English that is filled with its own rhythm and cadence, and rife with its own sublimated context.  We speak with vagary and ambiguity because in a community of 11,000 it is easy to follow subtle...

Water Fall

We have months of drought, when the earth bakes and cracks. The grass stops growing, turns pale and dry. When the rain comes it falls with an explosive reaction, raising up dust from barren fields and steam from the hot tar macadam until a mist settles...

The Tree of Life

Next to the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean, in our garden grows a sapling called The Tree of Life. It is Lignum Vitae and from it comes the hardest wood we know. It will neither burn, float nor rot. It is a medicine tree that can cure the sick and...

Field Trips

The children had a field trip last week and were taken from their schools down to the beaches to learn about conservation. They were released like a kindle of kittens to tease the water's edge, scattering across the sand while being reminded to keep their...

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