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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 though we are on eye level with the clouds that hang just above the horizon, which on halcyon days are reflected on the wide blue water around us.

The mountain is just behind, so steep and tall that we crane our necks to see its top when it’s clear. When there are no clouds it catches every color of the day as the sun moves across the sky until the light of sunset colors it pink before the darkness falls.

Then there are days when dragons rise. They start as the clouds that hang in between the ridges and valleys, slowly changing form, spreading wings that gather in from the sea and wrap around us, blanketing us as they grow. This is when the rain comes down and our island becomes so enshrouded in mist that the houses and villages, the landscape and scenery that make our accustomed view, disappear. We are in a fog.

It’s like the dragons have swallowed the mountain and now in their belly we can see no more. The ocean, the mountain and the slopes between them have been taken from us, we cannot see even the palm trees in our own garden, the railing of the verandah is now the limit of our world. All day long this weather might last, sometimes into the night and the cold prevails with darkness.

But this does not come with stillness. The mist and the clouds come with wind and rain, the tree frogs then begin to sing; an orchestra of trills, croaks and chirps. The boughs of the palms trees mark the meter and the rain plays loud percussions on the tin roofs. Rainwater over flows the gutters creating roiling streams that splash and churn and burble around the house. Louder and louder it gets, and the mist comes through the house. The weather will subside for a moment and a rhythm can be discerned in a long drawn cadence of rain; falling, fading, faltering but a seemingly unceasing pitter-patter that is ultimately broken by the next lashing band of the storm that is upon us.

The children may sleep through the night but my wife and I lie awake waiting for them to call out. We expect fear because we are fearful but the children hear only rain. And somewhere in the preamble to dawn the storm, and the frogs, and the cacophony become still. The rain abates and we sleep.

While we are still the twinkle of the last stars can be seen through the clouds that are clearing in the lightening night sky. The Zenaida doves claim the morning. Sunrise comes.

“And faith is a songbird that sings in the night knowing the dawn will come.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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Nevis was very fortunate, we suffered minimal damage. The ancient saman tree in the town square was blown over, a few other trees have been lost and our beaches have been strangely rearranged but it is nothing that can’t be repaired with time and tide. With village names like Hardtimes and Burden Pasture, Nevis has known many challenges.We are not strangers to the storm.

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