Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Good Life

As I sit in the early morning light on the verandah at my family’s home in St. Lucia, ther’s a rainbow in the sky over Rodney Bay; ever so faint, but beautiful nonetheless. It reminds me of what’s important in life. Allow me to take you on a little ramble down memory lane…

Some of my readers grew up with me and my family and have many a fond memory of this house…we had THE best parties up here, but it’s more than that; this was a home where no-one was unwelcome, all were equal and values ruled that had nothing to do with the status of living in ‘a house at Cap’.

I’ve recognized for years how lucky I am to have had this life – my mother, bless her soul, was an amazing woman – wanted to be an architect in Ireland when the concept of a woman in such a profession was laughed at. Unfortunately, she did not see her dream come true, but she did co-design our home here, so for all its character flaws, we cherish it because it has her in every room. She, an Irish Catholic, married my Dad, an English Anglican at a time when permission had to be gained from the Pope for such a questionable hook-up. She always used to joke that she married my Dad to ‘get her own back on the English’ (for all that they’d done to Ireland), but in reality, she just didn’t care a hoot about social norms, she followed her heart.

When we built this house, (well, my parents did, I was only 9 :) we were the northernmost lived in house on the island…people used to caution us to close our car windows as we drove past Gros Islet at night, lest some miscellaneous evil obeah enter the vehicle. In those days the road went through the village, by the sea…there was no Rodney Bay Marina then and Pigeon Island was as it’s name says – no causeway blocking the massive Christmas waves that we all used to ‘suicide dive’ into at the Yacht Club as our parents sat socializing the weekends away.

Our house was open to the elements – rain, moths, crabs, frogs, centipedes, scorpions, crickets (which last resulted in piercing screams and frenzy from us 3 kids) all had free entry. Play was to head outside and chase butterflies or adventure down dry ravines to wherever they led us. Of course it was long before internet and even before cable tv…tv came on in the afternoon with Sesame Street and later John Odlum read the evening news and winked as he said goodnight…such a charmer :) It was black and white and ended a few hours later with the National Anthem

If a car was heard coming up the road, it was sure to be coming to our house and was eagerly anticipated by us three sisters and well, Ma Clark, my mother as everyone had affectionately dubbed her, I’m not sure how eagerly she anticipated it, but she never turned anyone away.

Many things were hard about our life here too though – and these in their own way shaped us as well. First the house cost the family nearly 50% more than expected as between the 1973 oil crisis and the rip-off artist who was our contractor, costs spiralled. This meant that material things were in short supply…hand-me-downs and sparse meals were plenty. New toys and extravagance were not. Thank goodness for that…I may not’ve particularly liked it at the time, but the gifts hidden under the hard times remain priceless to this day. It’s not hard to see the negative effects on the kids today who hardly know what to do with themselves without a ‘something’ electronic to amuse themselves, and life is measured for them only in the fickle meters of $-values and “street cred”.

In those days in St. Lucia there was much poverty and little ‘going on’ but the good side of it all, and this I know was especially so in my home, is that the racism so many places saw and still see, just was not there….the Yacht Club for instance…anyone, from any background could come and mingle with anyone else. I had no idea back then that this was not ‘normal’. In fact even today as I live once more in Barbados, I am still learning how lucky we were to have grown up in this cocoon. I mean, there are prejudices here, lets not pretend, but not the sub-human racism and even classism that exists many places else. What a gift in life that has been.

There’s so much more to say about so many things and I think this is where I’ll be taking Sun, Rain, Or… in the future. For now, I hope you enjoyed this little unfocused early morning ramble with me…I eagerly await your little rambling comments, you know I do:) Until then, see y’all later and enjoy the days magic.