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Animal wisdom

There are old Nevis tales about the antics of animals, how the goat and the monkey talk to each other; and so we create proverbs and sayings based on their antics as explanations for our own actions. We say things like “the monkey knows what tree to climb” or ‘what’s sweet in goat’s mouth is sour in his ass.” Often when I cannot explain a situation in any other words I use these old expressions.

We’ve put up fences to keep the jungle out, but the monkeys bend down the wire and the goats push their way through, as if they made a plan together. The monkeys pull up the roots in the vegetable garden and the goats strip down the flowers and the shrubs. Each treads so silently that you might only hear the sound of tearing leaves, but never a footstep.

I look out the window and the monkeys are sitting on the lawn, eating grass seeds and laying on one another. The babies fly about the minute they see me move. The adults watch me and yawn. As I walk out of my house, in morning stillness I see a herd of goats has climbed on my Landrover to escape the dewfall of the night before. They make no effort to move as I approach. I refuse to climb up and chase them away so I drive off with two of them still on my roof. I stopped before turning onto the island main road and the goats jumped down and wandered into the bushes.

This draws no attention in my little village, not because I regularly drive with animals atop my vehicle but because the goats and monkeys are part of our life. Some people try to shoo and chase them off, but I like to watch them and see how far they might follow me, or where they might lead me. After all, “what’s sweet in goat’s mouth…”

Come visit. Together we can see which trees the monkeys climb.


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