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The Old Man

I have heard the old folks refer to the mountain as the Old Man and say that when he takes his hat off the night will be cold. When there is no clouds, and no haze, the air becomes crisp and there is a slight chill as the wind comes down from a high blue sky. In these conditions the horizon becomes very clear, like it is the edge of the world that is just within our reach. The other islands seem to come a bit closer, too, like gathering friends.

Looking to the mountain I see clearly the frayed fronds of the faraway palms and giant ferns in a jagged relief of green against the sky. The mountain seems unreal in its improbable perfection, like the backdrop of a Hollywood set. But, in just one minute, the sky changes; the mountain is lost. Clouds come lower, past palm trees, and surround the house. With this comes the smell of the earth, the smell of iron and vegetation. The horizon is gone and the rain comes loudly down.

Just as suddenly, it is over. The deafening sound of hard rain on the galvanized roof stops. Long arms of sunlight break through the clouds, the Old Man returns to stand above us. The thinning storm clouds that hid him turn to dragon shaped wisps. My children run to me, soaking wet but excited to have been caught in the rain. I tell them the Old Man played a trick on them, watch out when he changes his hat.

Come and join me in keeping the Old Man company.

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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