The Body Pays — To Antonio Variaçãoes (obrigada Duarte)

27 Apr

The Body Pays — To Antonio Variaçãoes (obrigada Duarte).

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The Body Pays — To Antonio Variaçãoes (obrigada Duarte)

26 Apr

The Body Pays — To Antonio Variaçãoes (obrigada Duarte).When I read this passionate, lyrical piece I also thought”Val is in love” oho, good for her. Seems that I am not alone in thinking this . Well, is there is not individual involved, you certainly seem to be in love with this country and with life.

This is good, to borrow  a phrase,  “life is good”.  Be well, keep the poetry coming, and continue to walk in the light.

This Is How It Starts– The Falling in Love

14 Apr

jamaicanhummingbird

This Is How It Starts– The Falling in Love.

My dear Val,

This is my third read of this post. It is wonderful.

Thanks for the invite to “feel the raindrops on my tongue”, I can even feel the salt of the Margarita.

life is good, enjoy!

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This Is How It Starts– The Falling in Love

9 Apr

This Is How It Starts– The Falling in Love.

My dear Val,

This is my third read of this post. It is wonderful.

Thanks for the invite to “feel the raindrops on my tongue”, I can even feel the salt of the Margarita.

life is good, enjoy!

 

4 Jan

knight writing

“Please let me make a true confession, I have never been in love before.” – Bernard Wright (Who Do You Love?)

You might think it strange to have as many conversations about romantic love as I’ve had this week, since I’ve never been “in love.” I’ve been in love with many things in this life: a pair of amazing boots, a garnet egg-shaped ring, many songs (mostly from the seventies and eighties), Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Al.B, Chanel lipstick (Lover– aptly named), a pair of black, satin pants bought in the West Village that fit like a second skin. The list of things goes on and on, but finding someone to fall in love with has been elusive.

Some of you will say that I have been in love, because at one time I claimed to be or that I cried cause my heart felt broken. However, with hindsight, it’s clear…

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Jamaica: Not Just Sun, Sand, Sea

18 Oct

I often lie on my bed and look at the mountains. First thing in the morning after opening my eyes, I open the balcony door, stand for a moment, look at the mountains and savor the day. Often, I return to lie on my back, gaze at them and feel their presence anchor and ground me.

I have looked at the mountains with love and respect and have thought, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, ”and today I am here at last fulfilling one of my deepest wishes. As a child of the inner city, I had often wondered what it would be like to live where everything was green, quiet and peaceful. As a young adult, I migrated to the concrete jungle and never had time, space or opportunity to find out. And now, at the sunset of my life, all that I have the courage to pursue is open to me. Sure, my knees won’t allow me to climb to the top of the mountain as I had always dreamed of doing, but with the aid of a car, I can now climb into her lap and be enfolded in her arms. And so, seemingly on the spur of the moment, I made arrangements.

Earlier in the day I had thought of postponing my trip, due to torrential rains, and called to cancel but it was too late; the car had already left to pick me up. We made the twenty- five mile journey upward into the heart of Blue Mountains in the continuing rainstorm. However, traffic was light and the roads good, except for a short stretch as we neared our destination. So good in fact that the driver and I joked that the politicians must have their homes in these hills. The driver was very careful; he seemed to sense my disquiet as we navigated the many twists and turns. Then very high up in the mountains, the road ran through the training camp for the soldiers. Newcastle. We watched them as they drilled, ramrod straight. They didn’t even glance at us as we passed. Once dry gullies, now rushing rivulets dressed in full khaki, washed the roadway as impromptu waterfalls cascaded.  As we ascended, I saw the way lined with wild flowers, big blowsy lily-like flowers on cane like stalks, and underneath them, ferns. Now and then, an intemperate mongoose flashed across the road.

After hearing of a series of illnesses and deaths of acquaintances, I decided to give myself a respite. I opened the telephone directory and randomly chose the Starlight Chalet and Health Spa based on their advertisement, in which they offered peace, quiet, nature walks, and “a Blue Mountain Escape.” The chalet is located in the beautifully named Silver Gap. It is a part of the John Crow Mountains in the Blue Mountain chain. In a few shorts minutes all the arrangements were made and now, two days later, I was about to fulfill a long-cherished wish.

At last, we turned onto a long curving driveway drive way and approached the hotel, a venerable pink lady two-stories high, attended on both sided by tall trees, sitting in the protective arc of the mountain.  Flowering shrubs lined the driveway and I gasped in pleasure in anticipation of tomorrow and hopefully the end of rain.  I arrived in a furious rainstorm; sheets of heavy rain in a continuous downpour, accompanied by a thick mist, shrouded everything.

The Starlight Chalet and Health Spa is not a large hotel; however, I was shown to large airy room which opened onto a private verandah and a three sided expanse of mountain. A beautiful canopied bed awaited me.  Only the sound of the rain could be heard.

I woke up early; it was still dark outside, and I lay still and content waiting to watch the sun as he also awakened from his slumber. The morning dawned bright and clear and, from where I am stood on the verandah, the hotel seems to be held in a loose embrace by the mountains. A series of hills present themselves to my admiring gaze. Verdant folds of the nearer ones and in the distance, sharp ridges clothed every shade of green imaginable. In the pure morning light the trees on the top of the mountains were sharply defined as they reached up to a clear blue sky. On the distant lower mountainside, the bright green is almost black at its base; the summit is backdropped by fluffy white clouds that seem to touch it like a layer of icing on a cake. Now, as the sun gets higher, the morning coolness is somewhat dispelled and a curtain of mist covers the near mountains and the characteristic blue that gives the mountain its name is evident.

So, I have learned something this morning, it seems to me that the two strong forces of green and gold uses the cool air as a catalyst to produce that unique blue; almost diaphanous, almost indigo, can’t properly describe it, except with my heart. The blue clothes the mountains of my beloved land.

Now the sun is in my face, I am being embraced by him. There is a soft breeze that floats off the trees and there is the sound of the river far below. I hear the trill of a bird nearby. My senses are overwhelmed.  As I watch the mountains, it seems that the colors shift momentarily; only the view in the distance remains constant, covered as it were with its blue sheet. The nearer slopes are very dark, almost black and bright green with the progression of trees up its slopes. As I feel the increasing warmth of the sun, I am eager to dress and go outside, morning ablutions kept to the very minimum in my haste.

A gentle breeze rises up from the valley and caries a fragrance I cannot define. I had not intended to walk or to explore the grounds before breakfast, but the grounds are magical. The driveway approaching the chalet follows a curve along a gently sloping assent. It is bordered by hydrangea, rhododendrons, daylilies, old fashioned pink roses, and abundant in bloom and beauty are lesser players in every shade tucked in between. I sit for a while on a bench tucked in a small secret garden that is not visible from the house or the main pathway. I lie on my back and watch the hummingbirds as they put on their dazzling show. As I, in bliss, drift, I am certain that I hear a dazzling saxophone reach, circle and float away. As I listen intently, I recognize Miles Davis and John Coltrane on the scented air. A gentle breeze, the murmur of the river celebrating “Blue and Green,” and, in this piece of paradise, the trumpets caress and celebrate every “Kind of Blue” in my heart.

This morning, “I lift up mine eyes to the hills.” As I witness the sun spread his splendor over the newly washed mountains, golden rays through a diaphanous mist, joy bubbles up within me. For a moment I do not recognize the feeling, I’m so transported. Then, when I do recognize what this is, it takes me a few seconds to claim it, hug it to me, to cherish it. This is it– a feeling of ultimate lightness, transcendence, pure, joy.

Washing Day at the River

21 Feb

“Come on, get up Lorna; it is washing day and we are going to the river.” I had never seen a river. My Aunt Daphne had come to Kingston to visit and had taken me back to the country with her.

At seven years old, I had not met any of my extended family except for my father’s mother, a distant memory of slaps and disapproval.  Aunt Daphne was her exact opposite. Soft, gentle and kind she was so much like my father in manner and physical appearance that it was not long before I was totally captivated by her. Although I had never been away from my parents since I had become a “big” girl, I needed no persuading to go off with her.

Wide open spaces, orange trees in bloom, pigs, chickens scratching in the yard; a scene out of my reading primer. But this was for real, summer in the country; everything new, strange, exciting.  But, going to the river, riding on a donkey, what an adventure!

It is early morning; the sun is not yet up. The grass is wet with dew; the air is cool and the donkey recalcitrant.  “Tan tudy nuh donkey, whoa, Whoa”! “Do not stand in front of him or behind him, he will kick or attempt to bite you. Stand off to the side little girl for this donkey is pure evil.

A protective padding is first placed on the donkey’s back, and then a large hamper is placed and secured with straps under his belly. The hamper hangs on either said packed with clothes to be washed. The halter and bridle is secured, my aunt climbs unto his back and I am lifted onto her lap. I am so excited. I do not remember having any tea (breakfast). “Sit still, don’t be squirming so”.

We met Aunt Gladys who lived down the road a piece. She is so old, so small, old and wizened; a tiny bronzed woman, her plaits hanging down her back. She is smiling and kind. “So you are Derrick’s daughter? First time in the country?” She takes the time to talk with me. No hard edges here. I smiled at her. We rode for a very long time, then finally, down the steep incline to the banks of the river.

The river, the wonder of it; a big expanse of clear water roiling, rushing swiftly  between large boulders, forming sand banks, small pools or shallow areas, all within its banks. The sound of it an incessant roar.

We dismounted, my backside is aching. There can be too much fun at times. The hamper is removed and the donkey tied a little way off in shade. Monday is the day for communal washing. A group of country women comfortable in each other’s company ;Funny, I cannot remember if they  wore head ties, certainly there were no hats; I remember clearly the laughter, the gossip, the sense of belonging.

I am enthralled by the surroundings. The hills seemed to cradle the river in a protective embrace of every shade of green. The sun is now out, the chill has disappeared and the air is warm. The river roars out its welcome. “Lawd, I wish I lived in the country”

The women sorted the clothes according to color. The whites are done first and put to bleach on river stones. They are not allowed to dry out and must be sprinkled intermittently by the children. Then the work clothes, stuff full of dirt and sweat, oh God, the smell of brown soap, so full of caustic soda. The clothes are rubbed on wooden boards, beaten on river stones then hung on nearby bushes to dry; stones and   I am helping, of course I am helping. While we waited for the clothes to dry it’s time to have fun.

Food is being cooked. Junga shrimps are searched out from their hiding places under the rocks by the older children. I am afraid to be bitten; I would not put my hand under a rock, I would not touch a shrimp.  The little Kingston gal is teased and teased. I am pushed forcefully into the river buy one of the bigger girls. “If yu doon ketch any, yu gwine hungry. You will not get any to eat. As I started to cry my aunt took me away and comforted me. We went into a small pool created by two large rocks. She washed my hair. We splashed and splashed. We laughed. My aunt loves the little cry, cry Kingston gal. reddybo,   reddybo,  reddybo gal. Ha, ha, ha, I laughed and hugged my Aunt Daphne.

In the early evening when the clothes were dry we packed the hamper with the clean wonderful smelling clothes and began our journey home. I was so tired I do not remember being put to bed. But, in my dreams, I still recall all the sights and sounds of that day. I feel the sun on my skin, hear the rushing water. Sixty years I still see my aunt’s smiling face, hear her laughter and feel enveloped in her embrace. I remain a much loved reddybo, reddybo, reddybo gal!