My Jamaican short story about my grandfather is featured in Red Bird’s weekly view. (It went live there today.) You can view it by following this link: http://www.redbirdchapbooks.com/content/my-grandfather-lime-tree.
Before organic farming was a thing, there was ital cooking by Jamaica’s Rastafarians. Here is an 8-minute video on hillside farming in Nonsuch, Portland (Jamaica): natural eating.
If you ever get a chance to visit Portland, Jamaica, try to visit the Nonsuch Cave, a system of nine chambers of stalagmites and stalactites. Inside this cave you will find seashells and other fossils embedded into the walls. This is quite amazing since the cave is high atop a hill! This area must once have been undersea. A favorite place to stay when on this end of the island is Trident Castle: here, peacocks greet you from the rooftops at evening time.
My previous post, “Another Fairy Tale” is now a feature of my art blog. The story started out as a drawing, developed into text and has become the basis for my painting, “They Played to Their Hearts’ Content.” For the pre-story (the actual drawings that led to the story), please visit my art blog at KayRodriques.com.
The wind rustled ever so slightly, gently bidding the little creature, “Come, come hither. Quick!” But the little creature was afraid to leave his hole in the canes. “Come on!” urged the wind. “Do you not hear the rumbling? Now’s the time to run. Run little one, run!” The little creature sniffed the air timidly. Something was amiss but he didn’t know what.
Story in progress … stay tuned for more in upcoming posts.
In the beginning, there was just the rain – rain all day and rain all night. Water ran along and beyond every hill and every canyon. On and on it ran until sea and sky merged together and became one. This is when Slender Bromeliad gave birth to River Mumma. Unlike her brothers and sisters, the ginger bromeliads, River Mumma, from her very inception, refused to stand still or to remain in one place.
When all of the ginger bromeliads’ water tanks were filled to capacity and brimming over, they would call out to one and all, telling us to come live with them in the cave. That is how I got there. Oh it was a magical place, filled with forests and rare understories. It was a perfect home for iguanas and mountain river fish and bromeliads.
Day and night, night and day, the ginger bromeliads and Slender Bromeliad collected rainwater. In the void, the chasm, the abyss of the caves, they all worked hard to keep Water Table level. While River Mumma roamed up and down the mountain and back, her mother and siblings stayed put, replenishing subterranean springs upon which Water Table balanced.
Life in Castle Cave
Rain collectors, as bromeliads are also known, arch their gutters into curves until they overlap to form tight, protective bowls. This is no easy feat and in fact, is really hard work. In a good year, they amass so much water that the creatures of the forest cannot help but find new ways to enjoy the bounty. Some of them even make their homes in the bromeliads’ slender stalks.
The first time Red Crab visited Slender Bromeliad’s castle, Slender Bromeliad was busy sunbathing. What seemed to be shutters to the castle turned out not to be shutters at all, but windows. And far from being closed, the windows were flung wide open. Red Crab climbed across the roof and down the wall near Slender Bromeliad. “Anybody home?” she called out. Slender Bromeliad ignored her. She inched closer sideways. “She can’t hear you,” came a voice from the gutters. Red Crab moved closer. “Are you a tourist or are you looking for a home?” “What?” responded Red Crab. “Are you looking to live here too?” asked Blue Damselfly, trying not to sound too hopeful.
The luxurious blue creature with iridescent wings was happy to see Red Crab. She knew she could count on her to provide nutrients for her larvae. She had, in fact, been waiting and hoping for company to arrive. When Blue Damselfly first made her way to the cave, Slender Bromeliad’s tank had been under the control of miscreants. Damselfly quickly put an end to that and all the miscreants disappeared. Now Blue Damselfly needed a new source of food for her larvae. Her host, Slender Bromeliad, was oblivious to all of this. She was too worried about her wandering progeny, River Mumma, who she heard, had taken the reflection of their cave and placed it firmly in Gold Mine for all to see. No good could possibly come of that.
River Mumma had become a main source of worry for Slender Bromeliad who no longer, if ever, had control over her last born. First there had been the business of all the fish children she spawned with iguana. Now there was the matter of her goings and comings and her late returns home. That had been okay during the rainy season. Now, however, a second season had arrived on the island and like River Muma, it too, seemed to be up to no good. The fish children that lived in the mountain streams were starting to talk. They said the sun was getting jealous of iguana and was getting hotter and hotter under the collar. They feared he might stop River Mumma from returning home one day. What they really were afraid of was that she would dry up, wither away, and then they too, would disappear. Worse yet, if she took the castle with her, the underground springs would dry up too.
They blamed it all on iguana for having tempted River Mumma to flow on out of the cave. They said iguana had tricked her into spawning fish in the lower rivers and even further below, in the salt laden sea. Lately, they claimed, he had taken to running pipes along her banks just to keep her close. It was he, they said, that kept her tethered to the golden table that shimmered and glowed and threatened to capsize any day now. He put her at risk and now she was in everybody’s crosshairs. River Mumma, of course, didn’t see any of this their way. She was merely charting her own course and beating her own path. And as for Pan, where would he find pipes in a land without pipes? None of this made sense, unless of course, the place ahd been bewitched by the fairies. Had it?
If you wish to read Part I of this tale, please click on this link.
Dodd’s cow parsnip painting makes me think of the works of Jamaican painter, John Dunkley, and also of Alice in Wonderland. I have a few sketches of cow parsnips in one of my early Bay Area nature journals. These plants are on many of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space’s lands. They will probably show up in some of my future paintings.
Pan Tells His Story
Ford the river. Cross the Cockpits. Stop when you reach the fountainhead. This is where Fishman and Fishwoman hid the golden table and secured it for all eternity. If ever you should see a golden glow on the water, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the sunlight glistening off the surface. It is Gold Mine, where Fishman and Fishwoman washed their gold and hid the golden table. Peer into the water and you are bound to see the empty squares, ruins from a world long gone.
Gold Mine is the section of the river that shimmers and glistens in the midday sun. It is River Mumma’s temporary resting place. Being part fish she roams from fountainhead to tributary, to sea and back, populating the river with her fish children.
At noontime you will find River Mumma reclining and playing with her many children. If ever you should see her sitting atop a large table in the middle of the river, beware. Do not look at her and do not let her see you either. Should your eyes meet hers, terrible things will happen. Most important of all, don’t ever try to capture her. If she is caught, the river will dry up. So please, forget I ever told you about the golden table, River Mumma and her beautiful, exquisite comb of gold. Follow me instead to the cave in the hill where Slender Bromeliad, River Mumma’s mother, lives.