Sitting on a veranda with an Aunt and Uncle and their friends and family, The view from the house is another tropical paradise filled with both the decorative and useful plants.
After the informal greetings and acquaintances from days or years gone by, drinks being delivered for the feasting preamble. As I sit down my hostess goes to find me a beer and returns moments later with a foam cup. Which hides most of the bottle and providing a grip and protecting from the 28 degree heater we call the Sun. The last gathering like this for me was 6 years ago. At that time my host and I had shared an interest in ethnobotany & the environment. Would we be able to continue from where we left off? As it happens we were to touch on the state of things later. His first enquiry was the seriousness of the environmental decline back home. For I am 4,500 miles from there where I manage and model environmental data.
Setting the Scene
Glancing up to the wall in front of me I see a black and white photo. Clearly it is the property I am now sat in but many years ago. Later my host and others described some of the history. It was pasture all around with a few buildings and due to the fortunes of the previous owner it had become rundown and fairly dilapidated. It was dry land looking more like a mars scape than the verdant scene set before us. Certain oddities remain from that time. When the lack of money and the warm climate had allowed glass was not required. There were louvred wooden shutters that pivoted at the top and held open with a wooden pole. The current owners had though of this as nod to the ages before. Another feature of this house is its openness. Both windows and doors do not have screens to keep the insects out and while the more affluent often do it is not always so as in this case.
This had another surprise and delight for me later while we chatted over food. Over the shoulder of my host I had a view into the kitchen. Something caught my eye and I turned my head to see what it was. It was a Bananaquit, which apparently is a frequent visitor to the house, coming and going as it pleases through the open windows examining the offerings to be found there in the kitchen. The species has a local name which no one was able to spell for me but seems to be “See see”. It does appear that many small birds might be called “See see” in the region according to what I hear though.
The conversation was similar to others I have had with this group of people. All a generation older than me. To the outside observer it might seem to be a series of humorous skits but of course is a series of anecdotes often linked, perhaps vaguely, to a previous in the sequence. Politics is avoided but observations on the human condition or the challenges faced by us all crop up and are talked among the gathered in semi-serious or light-hearted manner.
After people had had their fill and many bottles of wine had moved around the company lowering the waterline ‘til empty, a procession back to the veranda was performed. I took the opportunity, at the invitation of the host’s sister, Susan, to walk around part of the gardens. Where we acquainted ourselves with Mandarin, Orange, Ugly Fruit, French Cashew amongst others. As mentioned earlier, the landscape has been transformed from an arid grassland to a tropical fruiting and flowering paradise floating on a grass sea. Closer to the house, a terrace at the level of the veranda is spotted with the colourful plants of the area including the national plant of Grenada, Bougainvillea. Crotons being a vibrant plant in the sun, with many forms, are dotted throughout and at the front of the terrace in full sun an array of many Orchids. Cattleya, Vanda and Cymbidium strung up in the pots gently swaying in the breeze. Proffering spikes of flowers or individuals with their uniqueness displayed for all to see.
Another post from this visit can be found here