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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 offers aid to the blind. It is called the holy tree because once upon a time the poor people of Europe prayed before it’s slivers and timbers as they could afford no other medicine.

We planted the sapling because it’s from the timbers of this tree that the Hermitage is built, trees that likely grew on the same spot 400 years ago, trees that were likely 1000 years old. When my father first saw the house he bought it that very same day, with no prior consideration and with no hesitation. He explains very simply it was because the house spoke to him.

It is an earth-fast house, its post planted directly into the ground with no other foundation. The unique cross bracing of the ceiling gives the house its stability, and the awesome weight of the Lignum Vitae itself gives the house its strength. When I am still, I can feel the resonance of the ancient timbers still drawing energy up from the same ground from which they once grew, and at night, on my own, I swear I can hear the walls talking. Perhaps it is the echoes of voices from over the years, perhaps it is the murmuring of the many prayers this house has heard.

This week the sapling has shown its first flowers, deep periwinkle blue. This week we also built a tea pagoda in the garden, by the big rock, beneath the mango tree and above the swimming pool. The pagoda just appeared as though it had been brought by the flowers, as easily as if it just knew its spot and slipped simply from the intangible to the real. My father said it spoke to him and he knew it had to be built. I sit looking through the window where the Lignum Vitae grows wondering about the voices that inspire us.

Come to Hermitage and you will hear them too.

Caribbean Strong – Nevis

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.

Don’t You Agree?

After a trip away, I’ve just returned to these sweet charms of Nevis, the warmth of hospitality and the embrace of friends.

My Nevis Perspective

The best way to survive as a hotelier on a remote island with difficult logistics is with patience and a sense of humor.

Hermitage Newsletter December Edition

Interestingly, a celebrity magazine shoot shared the property with a crew of geothermal miners. We can’t say which group was the more tantalizing and filled us with anxious delight at the possibility of unearthing a deeply hidden treasure.

Experience of the Caribbean

Some days are clear Caribbean skies and placid, turquoise, clear seas that reflect the frigate birds and passing clouds; some days are faded yellow from the Sahara dust that drifts across the Atlantic, some days are rain, hard bullet-like tropical rain...

Covered in vines

There are little wooden houses on the island of Nevis and many are covered in vines. They were built 100 hundred years ago, in a tradition that was handed from master carpenter to apprentice, one generation to the next. Their beams are pegged together with...

The Pink House History

My mother lives in a Pink House, the house that we built for her mother, my grandmother, who we called Muzzy.

The Ocean’s View

Where the water meets the shore is the edge of the world, either in the rough collision of waves against rocks that tells the story of resistance and erosion or in the soft lapping and gentle wash that dresses the sand, with a fringe of foam like lace. The...

Leave Her As She Is

Over coffee in the mornings he spoke about it, at the bar in the evenings he promised to restore it. 

Summer days

The summer time is true to the heart of island living, with fewer tourists and expats, the buzz of visitors subsides. The days are longer and the nights are cool and refreshing. We spend more time in the evenings sitting outside, and I find myself looking...

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