2 geese in perfect duo
over the bridge together
back from winter.
A false Spring,
a lovely start.
A woman’s pair of beige dance shoes
hangs from the powerline
outside the theatre.
She always wanted to be
a tightrope walker.
We often throw ourselves higher,
sooner than we think we’re able to go.
Ostara, in her haste,
drops a white-washed paintbrush
on the robin blue eggshell sky
leaving a smatter of
pulled apart cotton cloud.
The birds still wait to be warmed
To fly or to burrow?
Cannot take the sky
before I know how
to go to ground.
A strange circular rainbow appears
behind a triangular treeline.
Not yet. Still, more rain.
I take a wrong turn into a dead end street
and the Ouroboros symbol appears
on a glassblowers garage studio door
at the end of the alley,
and it’s no longer the wrong way
it’s the right symbol,
I turn around again
bite my own tail,
face the sun
waiting, turning from the dark
for two to agree
and become one.
Yes. I know. It’s been since February . . . but let me explain:
We’ve moved our home from Southwest to Northeast Portland
(from the South Burlingame to Irvington neighborhood).
I’d barely finished Winter term when Spring Semester was
already bursting through the ground (like those new black
and red tulips I left behind and the compost bin I had going.)
that would’ve come in handy for some fresh gardening.
And soon, I will be helping my boss to move our office . . .
Does the fun ever end?
My favorite plum
hangs so far from me
See how it sleeps
and hear how it calls to me
See how the flesh
presses the skin,
It must be bursting
with secrets within,
I’ve seen the rest, yes
and that is the one for me
See how it shines
it will be so sweet
I’ve been so dry
it would make my heart complete
See how it lays
languid and slow
me here below
I’ve seen the best, yes
and that is the one for me
~ Suzanne Vega
::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::
He said, “I have seen a very strange sight. As I was coming hither, I saw two girls walking. Trees grew on their heads the boughs were covered with plums and the roots which came through their hair were fastened about their necks. They were beautiful and seemed to be very happy.”
“We will go and see them!” cried the women. They had not gone far before they saw one of the girls lying on the ground while the other pulled at the tree on her head. The roots gave way and the tree came out but all the hair came with it also. Then the other lay down and her friend in turn pulled the tree from her head. They were very angry and said, “If we meet with the man who played us this trick we will punish him.”
~ from The Algonquin legends of New England, or, Myths and folk lore of the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribesBy Charles Godfrey Leland
::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::
The soft, white gardener’s gloves are coming off. i have been tending faithfully to my recovery. But two days before the full moon on the 11th, something moved in. Something came to a head, some terrible creeping vine got snarled in the works, slid through the garden, curled up around my ankles, tripped me up, sent me inside, put me in bed with cookies and tea and a warm cat and pulled from me a sobbing, frustrating confession that i laid out, soaking the cheek of my poor husband as i looked at him for consolation and answers.
i found myself frustrated, feeling ravaged, angry and sorrowful. It was all underneath there when the moon, a monstrous lever, became a shimmering coin wedged under me, a tightly capped bottle, and opened a geyser. The far away moon, a silver spade of light shot down a deep well, struck the ground and water erupted. i cried on and off for three days, mostly to myself, to a few patient and listening on the phone, and to my Joe.
For three days, i allowed myself to unravel, and found my heart weary and wrung out, resigned to being heavy and wet as a sodden sponge. My brain, a rabbit running circles in a electrified cage looking for an inch of wire that doesn’t shock. My insides, a calliope of dark, oceanic sound, guttural bagpipes under a taut waterbed. You think a waterbed is a good idea until you try sleeping on one, or moving it. Both are disappointing and painful endeavors and Buddha help you if you spring a leak somewhere. It will take all your effort to track down and fix it, if you don’t grow wildly impatient in the process. And my bum, well, it’s an occasionally unpredictable vending machine; every food an unmarked denomination that drops a bauble, a sticker, a spider, an unrecognizable & mysterious something or other and yes, we can end the metaphor right there without getting too indelicate.
My acupuncturist has said that i am very aware of my body’s innerworkings. Mmmhmm. i probably pay more attention to what i know is “me.” In fact, the biggest obstacle is likely “me” getting out of my own damn way and up from the circular pool that is my head, swimming with worry, diagnoses, concoctions, medications, and self-perpetuated misery which i think, despite the goodness of yoga and meditation has been affecting my sense of healing.
Still, i should not have to wake already dizzy and exhausted, twinged with fear; i still feel fatigued sometimes, even after decent sleep and for no good reason. i think i am in some sort of mourning stage and trying very hard to make peace with this major change and upheaval in my body. This good little machine which i feel has betrayed me somehow, or more, been betrayed by the path of care not clearly employed by my doctors and better researched, hacked at, tried and carried out by my own overwhelming desire to heal. i turn the whole puzzle with pointed questions around and around in my head: Why did my gallbladder go bad? Have i been unnecessarily harvested and robbed of a small but important piece of the original factory model? Will the rest of my body recover and compensate? Will i lead some compromised digestive and internal version of my former life? Will i ever truly heal?
how long how long how long was my teary mantra. i’m so impatient, i just want to smack myself out of it! i keep wondering “how long until i am completely well?” “how long until i have a day where i wake and feel mostly normal?” (aside from normal wear and tear or self-deprived rest). i keep asking the outside, the place without me, how long how long how long instead of delivering the directive be well be well be well to the place within me. i am not being as kind to myself as i should, i know.
What i noticed lately is this lump in my throat that appears and dissipates some. i felt it once the first week and apparently, it’s not uncommon after surgery as i’ve read other people complain about it. It’s also associated with GI disturbances and is mostly seen in the realm of anxiety and stress. My acupuncturist said it was know as Plum Pit Qi. Here’s where the explanation gets ancient, interesting and illuminating:
“The feeling of an obstruction in the throat (when there’s not an actual physical obstruction) is called Plum Pit Qi and is associated with Qi Stagnation (Liver Qi in particular). There is actually an emotional cause to this manifestation, Chinese Medicine diagnoses it as Qi and Phlegm knotted in the throat. Emotions such as sadness or frustration can produce a lump in the throat or Plum Pit Qi. The root pattern is a binding depression of Liver Qi with a concurrent inability to deal with an overwhelming emotional situation in which symbolically the patient cannot swallow. The Liver Qi attacks the Stomach causing Qi counterflow and thus interferes with the Qi transformation producing Phlegm and Dampness. The Lung and Stomach Qi counterflow causing Phlegm to become stuck in the throat so that the patient cannot expel it. Due to the severe depression of the Liver Qi there may also be rib-side pain and stuffiness in the chest.
Plum Pit Qi is first mentioned in Chinese literature in the Jin Gui Yao Lue, a treatise composed at the end of the Han Dynasty (ca. 220 A.D.). The text addresses miscellaneous disorders, mostly those suffered by women. In Chinese medicine, Plum Pit Qi corresponds to globus hystericus or neurotic esophageal stenosis in Western medicine. Sometimes, it’s even diagnosed as cricopharyngeal spasm. It refers to a sensation as if something were stuck in the back of the throat which can neither be spit up nor swallowed down. In the Chinese medical literature, this feeling is likened to a plum pit stuck in the throat or a piece of roasted meat. As its Western names suggest, this is a psychiatric diagnosis associated with anxiety, depression, and stress.”
:: sigh:: Great. In Eastern terms, i have blocked energy, stagnant blood, dampened, gummed up insides which lead my organs to attack, invade and otherwise kung fu the hell out of each other’s energy flow. In Western terms, succinctly, i am officially, a nutter. But if nothing else, and after all that fascinating text, i can put a name to it. i can actually visualize it all in terms of energy or in somewhat physically impossible metaphors. i KNEW it’s been my angry liver kicking the ass of my spleen and stomach.
i suppose you could categorize my private, internal emotional state as mildly depressed if not weathered by the experience of going from merrily eating and drinking up food, wine and life to this cautious balancing act with my body. So, my acupuncturist and i, through open discussion, have been concentrating on those points dealing with the liver and depression or mood. i DO feel better after yoga and meditation, but it’s been rather like an episodic bandage over an unclosed gash. i realize that the change for the better is going to be incremental, but what i’m really wishing for is for that big, red panic button in my brain to become the reset button or to be shot through with sudden, glorious, radiant, healing light.
This plum pit of mine is also thought to be associated with GERD & the like, though all i can say is the Pepcid i was prescribed for nausea from suspected reflux gave me headaches on top of it all and didn’t seem to affect anything dramatically over time or from withdrawal. On it, off it, nothing really changed.
i was never instructed how long to take them, never followed up with and i NEVER had acid reflux before, so why now? If i have to campaign aggressively for my own health, i’d rather do an ERCP, a barium swallow or MRI studies to determine the actual likelihood & amount of acid reflux if any. Then, at least there would be reason to have any given medication prescribed. The whole, “I have this symptom, so give me that med” without any physical diagnostic tool can’t be very accurate. That’s how the meds pile up. It becomes a Jenga game of stacking up pills that mask the inital symptom with a new, undesired symptom that requires counter-measures by way of new drugs further inducing another crop of symptoms until it’s about livable through layered pain management. By then, you are taking the first through fourth medication, you’ve built a wall around the actual foundation, the original underlying cause which, if pulled out gently and addressed is just like pulling the crucial block from the bottom that’s fucking up the whole balance, thereby, finally – bringing the unhealthy, leaning tower down.
As you’d expect, it’s also recommended from the Western side of things to try soothing the plum pit with anti-anxiety meds & anti-depressants (globus hystericus or neurotic esophageal stenosis) and/or to see if Valium or a similar muscle relaxant stops it (cricopharyngeal spasm). Now, i’m not worried about the stigma of anti-i-can’t-deal-anymore meds. They are a familiar friend in my family and we didn’t ask to be crazy or to live in such an occasionally mucked-up world. Trust me, when things got bad, i have used them to straighten out, click the serotonin up a notch and get back in the game.
But now, i seem to want less pharmaceuticals in me, less things for my liver to clear out and cough up and more vitamins and supplements for my body to take in. i added digestive enzymes which includes acidophilus, and that seems to help with meals and the end-product of, so to speak. They are also reputed to help with the supposed reflux problem i may or may not have. So, buh-bye Pepcid. This next visit to the acupuncturist will include new liver points and a specially formulated Chinese medicine specific to my symptoms, weight and constitution. Again, i have to ask, why doesn’t Western medicine do MORE of this special, individualized care better?
The time of the liver on the Chinese circadian clock is between 1 and 3 a.m. Guess what time i wake up to write and pace the house? Yeah. Even now, it’s 1:49 am as i type this bit of the story. Go to sleep liver, you’re wearing me out.
For those three days i argued with myself, maybe i SHOULD get on some anti-something-or-anothers to straighten out a chemical imbalance and let the rest of the healthy activities take their course & full effect. It’s so strange . . . i don’t really feel depressed, i interact normally and cheerfully enough with people, i’m still productive (albeit in personal endeavors alone since i am STILL unemployed) but people close to me have noticed i am not as light and confident as i used to be, that something in me is stifled. And it’s true, in my private moments, i DO have those dark blue thoughts, feel discouraged and notice the tension and discomfort move through my body in unpredictable cycles and in new, sometimes unpleasant sensations. So, perhaps there are these organic after effects i’m not consciously aware of, clouding things up in there. i am producing plum pits that rise and fall and when it falls to the bottom, what will grow then?
i am trying to count blessings; i am not battling cancer, i am loved by family, friends and completely supported by Joe in every manner as any woman could want for. i have all that i need to survive and well beyond basic necessities. But simply stated, eating to live is necessary and enjoying eating is difficult, thus life has become more difficult. Some days i am just throwing belly timber in. Food and vitamins and supplements to keep the fire stoked and the machine working. Good days, i actually enjoy the food. Bad days, i get it past my lips and worry if the enemy has crossed over and smuggled in a tank of gasoline to set the place on fire and shut the engine room down. But it appears the engine room is missing a particularly important cog. And in keeping with my current interest of interpreting maladies through Chinese medicine . . .
The functions of the Gallbladder are:
– Store and excrete bile
– Govern decision making
– Control sinews
– Affect dreams
– Close relation with the Liver
There is a reason i cannot sleep – my liver is angry, i feel indecisive and weakened besides the actual trauma of surgery. It is explained that “the Gallbladder affects the quality and length of sleep, if it is deficient a person will wake very early and not be able to return to sleep. When the Gallbladder is deficient, one dreams of fights, trials, and suicide.” (Spiritual Axis). Further, “the Liver is considered to be responsible for the ability to plan life, the Heart oversees all mental functions, the Small Intestine gives clarity and wisdom to decision making, and the Gallbladder gives the courage and capacity to make decisions. All these functions must be harmonized to plan and lead a harmonized life. If the Gallbladder is weak a person will be timid and lack initiative and courage. The Gallbladder gives us drive and the passion to excel and the action potential necessary for these to come to fruition. Dealing with adversity also comes under the role of the Gallbladder. It is often necessary to tonify the Gallbladder to support the Heart’s function.”
I wonder what Chinese Medicine says about cholecystectomy. About carrying on with missing, integral parts. Well – let’s deal with the big part that’s left . . .
i’ve begun to imagine my Liver as a powerful, insightful, well-educated, well-informed and well-manicured woman dressed to the nines, and someone stole her favorite little purse with all her money, identity and mojo. My liver was a vibrant lady and i though i gave her plenty to do, i never taxed her too hard. But without a place to store and concentrate on who she is inside and where she’s going, she currently finds herself rather lost in cortisol-laced, moonfaced dreams.
If i could paint the image of how i feel inside it would look like this:
A red-haired girl in the lotus position sitting below a Weeping Plum Tree, reaching up with both hands at the top of squared elbows, her fingers in Gyan Mudra, her index fingers and thumbs signaling ‘ok’ with her palms upturned to catch what may fall from the tree. She looks up, her chin lifted slightly, reaching more with one hand to draw down the perfect plum, dangling just out of reach. Scattered around her in the grass below, the flesh of half-eaten plums are lit upon by ladybugs, butterflies and pushed about in the mandibles of stag beetles, glossy as patent leather, trundling in circles like dark little bulldozers. The plum tree is unusual and split in half between two seasons of growth. Half of the weeping tendrils are covered in wintry, Valentine blossoms of red, pink and white with bare, black bark twisting though in burls and spirals; witchy, clawed fingers stretching down and pointed out as if to touch. On this side, orange-amber prescription bottles hang, some without caps, raining white pills like the petals of Ume flowers. The other half is covered in Spring & Summer leaves, drooping under the weight of fat, glimmering, thick-skinned, purple plums.
The Ume flowers on plum trees are celebrated and adored in both China and Japan. In China, the blossoms symbolize struggle and endurance of winter’s hardship; they embody resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity because it is in the winter snow they bloom most vibrantly. Conversely, Japanese see the Ume blossoms as a harbinger of Spring and tradition holds they function as a protective charm against evil.
That moon pulled on me as it does the tides, drawing the water down, out and away. In all those tears, the plum-pit in my throat has softened, but there are still these knots inside. Plum pits swallowed, waiting to surface, to be spat. There is an approaching midpoint; the fear of dying off, the relinquishing of control, the surrender in letting go and the promise of rebirth. Of something allowed to die in order to come back in a new form. The last fury of Winter Solstice. The first whisper of Vernal Equinox.
i am that girl, in seated meditation, grounded and split between two seasons, with both hands reaching for protection, for nourishment, for my favorite plum and for the small things tending the garden to carry away and bury the pit.
“After all –
What were you really looking for?
and i wonder when will i learn.
Blue isn’t red everybody knows this
and i wonder when will i learn
Guess i was in Deeper than
i thought i was if i have enough love
for the both of us . . . ”
Strange by Tori Amos
the snow is almost completely melted,
but the air conditioner nearly died with
frozen lungs – coils, weeping down the wall.
i woke from nitemares of her, hot tears
on my cheek this morning, icicles dripping
from the rooftops, pattering, the feet of
following cats, behind, in front curling
like those mysterious numbers – unknown
unforeseen consequence, the heat of pain
melts the chill of fear.
an accomplished mathematician and a brilliant
physicist who saw sinister messages in Shakespearian
sonnets, visions of certain hell, doomed patterns and
curves in the language put him into his car, drove him
to a dark bridge where he jumped into the icy bay.
our tormented friend lifted the veil, saw Spring too soon
and wished to be reborn, the water carried him away.
something strange is out there in the frozen grass, the
grass that stands stock still straight up like inverted
exclamation points, silver punctuation – something up
there in the icicles pointing down, witchy accusatory
white-blue fingers, snapping off, truncated memories
touching my skin where it is neither welcome nor warm.
ice is strange – how it preserves what dies for food,
what dies to give new life, meat, red, chilled down to
blue – that something there, imbedded, i cannot dig it out,
not with claws, not until the spring thaws what is still
beneath, what is still inside – then i will be grateful for
the release and as i look outside, as the wooden planks
bloat, thirsty for water, showing their dark skin again,
and i walk safely, and the snowdrops bow their heads
in the garden and the snow is almost completely melted.
Well – it seems i survived the Storm of The Century of the Week. The Weather Channel kept referring to the approaching snowstorm as the “WINTER WALLOP.” i only see about 8″ but that’s enough to put everything to a halt out here. Maryland closes the schools and government if someone even whispers the word “snow.” The winds rolled in today, 24 hours late to do its job of whipping up some window high snowdrifts.
It was especially nice getting that call from work that said, “don’t bother coming in.” Of course – i missed out on money at work, but it wasn’t going to be your average Saturday nite nearing $300, so i didn’t risk sliding into a ditch for an unusual $80 or less.
What was really nice was watching the snowfall, baking croissants to eat with butter and homemade apple jelly spiced with red cinnamon, brewing some tea and watching the birdfeeder.
It’s butterflies in the summer and birds in the winter. Ok – so, i’m a bird nerd too. The birdfeeder has been like an airport the last few days. All manner of bird zooming in and chirping: chickadees, juncos, sparrows, tufted titmouse with their funny crowns, winter wrens, grey-cheeked thrush, red cardinals, and most exciting, i found (or it found me) a red-bellied woodpecker.
i shot a few from inside, caught some glare and then went outside, standing still and crouched against a wall to observe them swooping in to peck at the feeder. i then turned the camera in to my own window where Odin was watching intently, and probably wondering what i was doing out there in the snow with that silly white-spotted leopard flophat.
i don’t enjoying skiing or sledding or anything like that, but this kind of winter sport, i can learn to love because i love to learn.
DESIRE TO SLIDE INTO A DITCH AND DIE ON THE WAY TO WORK:
On this snowy day, a perfect day for doing some reading and thinking (and oh alright, some damn homework, if i must) i am wrapped in a soft red robe, bright as the cardinals lighting on the snow-laden branches and the bird feeder outside the window.
And so a trade in the weather calls for a trade in the birds . . .
I suppose i should tell you about my little Caribbean getaway, since i haven’t done that just yet . . .
We flew out of Philadelphia this time instead of Baltimore. The couple hours of extra driving were worth the $200 cheaper airfare. We were looking to go on the cheap since we would be checking in early evening (8pm) and leaving early morning (4am), so we stayed at the Motel 6 which i haven’t done since i was a child traveling across country. This place was squeaky cheap; the air was sterile, the lighting somber and jaundiced, the tv bolted down, not even any badly rendered seascapes or horrific art on the wall. The plaque on the bedside table discouraged smoking in the rooms but there were cigarette burns on the sheets. And as for the sheets . . . they were so over-bleached, thin and scratchy, i could barely tell them apart from the toilet paper which as you know, can be equally miserable!
But onto the actual vacation . . .
We arrived January 6th, on Beef Island and took a taxi to Tortola, for the first nite’s stay in the resort and the following day to collect the boat, a 42′ Beneteau monohull. It was Three Kings Day that day, celebrated in the Caribbean as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Hispanic communities, particular with Mexican Americans and especially on the East Coast. It is also known as the Epiphany feast, occurring 12 days after Christmas to commemorate the Three Kings – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar who visited baby Jesus with gifts. The tradition is older than Christmas and Santa’s visit, but follows the similar gift-giving tradition. On the Eve of the Epiphany children collect hay, straw or grass and place it in boxes, containers or shoes (in Mexico) under their beds. This gesture is the equivalent of milk & cookies for Santa and is instead, a gift of food for the camels, elephants and horses that the Kings ride in on while they rest in between deliveries. If you thought a sleigh that landed on rooftops with reindeers was implausible, imagine a camel, horse or elephant on the roof! i’m sure you’d smell the barn yard coming . . .
But i digress – Three Kings Day, after the children received their presents and sweets, was more or less another reason to have a wild feast, bonfires, parades, and to consume Pusser’s Rum. Which no one needs an extra excuse to do down there.
Though i had only been to the British Virgin Islands once previous, getting back onto the boat, unpacking clothes and storing provisions was just like coming home. Everything in its proper place and then commence to stowing the Carib beer, getting plenty of ice, securing items and getting underway. The days are spent cooking breakfasts, sailing for a bit, stopping somewhere to moor or anchor near the island du jour, snorkeling, swimming, shopping, sunning. Showering off the saltwater and rinsing out the wetsuits. Catnapping through the brief, light rainfalls in the morning and mid-afternoon. Watching pelicans dive into the water after fish. Eating dinner on the boat or at some wonderful restaurant nearby. Drinking rum and beer until about 11pm or until you are too tired to resist the gentle sway of the boat and then it’s bedtime and up again with the morning rain sprinkling your face through the hatches and the 7am sun glinting off the water like pools of silver. i only seem to adhere this alien schedule when i am there. At home – i keep vampire hours.
We returned to our first sailing point, across the Sir Francis Drake Channel, past a collection of rock formations poking out of the water known as the Indians, and onto Norman Island, which is locally known as Treasure Island and is believed to have inspired the Robert Lewis Stevenson classic. We moored at an anchorage known as The Bight and rode our dinghy out to The Caves for snorkeling. The Caves are incredible rock formations only four feet deep, but dropping off to 40 feet near their entrance. The walls are encrusted with gorgeous, yellow and orange cup corals, sponges and incredible tropical fish swimming all around.
As we finished snorkeling, we were approached by a dingy with two frantic Italian men. One of them had deep-sixed their new, and expensive Oakley sunglasses. We rode out to their boat where i handed Brooks his weights and he dove to recover the lost glasses. Upon his resurfacing, the crew, 2 lovely women and four men all cheered, clapped and snapped photos. They offered us a couple beers, we sat down for an hour chat and they later gave us a bottle of wine from his brother’s vineyard! We drank that later with some fresh fruit, crackers and cheeses on our own boat.
We sailed past Peter and Salt Islands the next day and moored at Manchioneel Bay just off of Cooper Island. Manchioneel Bay is named for the trees on the beach with shiny, little, green, poisonous apples. The Carib Indians used this tree’s sap to poison their arrows as it causes severe skin blistering and, if in the eyes, at least temporary blindness. Manchioneel Bay is said to be the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s famous “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” It is typically known for good snorkeling, but i must confess, this was a rainy, windy day where not much got done, besides popping anti-nausea medication, drinking ginger beer, and attempting to feel human. That night – eughhh . . . the boat swung around on the mooring ball and rocked sickeningly, prompting me to rename it “Lurch n Heel” or “Munch n Hurl” Bay. The only good thing is that Brooks got to go on his first dive that following morning, backtracking off Salt Island to a famous dive site, the Wreck of the Rhone, where the R.M.S Rhone (Royal Mail Steamer) went down in 1867 in a hurricane.
From there we sailed on to Virgin Gorda and landed in Spanish Town, where we stayed in the Yacht Harbor for two glorious (civilized) days. There we ate some wonderful food at a patio tavern called The Bath and Turtle. Chicken wings with Tamarind honey ginger barbeque sauce, conch fritters, some terrific fresh tuna and French Toast on actual French Bread for breakfast one morning. Chickens free-ranged everywhere with their chicks in tow (though they were not for dinner), goats roamed the local shore nibbling the grass, little dogs begged for food at the lunch tables in front of the small grocery store, bougainvillea grew in brilliant hedges, lizards flitted along fence posts and tree limbs. We took a taxi to visit a much-photographed scenic area called The Baths. The Baths are named for its large assortment of huge basalt boulders, formed deep underground from magma, which are properly called batholiths (from the Greek bathys and lithos, meaning “deep” and “stone.”) We climbed the trails, explored the caves and rocks, collected seashells and admired the feral cat with the torn ear who hung out at the little beach bar shack.
At the gift store, Brooks impulsively bought me a beautiful teardrop ring i had been turning over in my hand, hemming and hawing about amongst others, but was trying to behave by not purchasing. “I’ll take this one,” he said before the woman could put it back. “Is that the one i like?” i smiled and asked playfully. “Yes,” he said. And it was sealed. It’s so rare i buy jewelry for myself; to me wearing something is symbolic. It has to be right place, the right time, the right shape, color, energy, memory. Now i have something to remember Virgin Gorda and the Caribbean by.
We sailed past The Dogs (Seal Dogs, George Dog, West Dog and Great Dog) where there are a great many nesting birds and on to Marina Cay. Marina Cay is small eight-acre island with soft, white sand beaches, a beautiful nature trail with lush tropical plants, cactus, flowers, and wildlife, a small 8-bedroom hotel and bar, and a great little store attached to the tasty Pusser’s Restaurant. When we were there last time, a calico cat named Tess dined with us. In my lap, you could more correctly say. And she was still there! Cruising the dining room, being fed chicken scraps and shrimp tails. This time she sat with me while i rubbed her ears during dessert – rum soaked Bananas Boulangere with caramel, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Our dinners were sopped with the Pusser’s Rum creation called The Painkiller, available in levels 2-5.
Earlier in the day, the current was moving a bit, but i dove down and wedged the dingy anchor between two rocks on the silty, grassy bottom and Brooks went diving while i snorkeled with turtles and puffer fish along the reef. I found a beautiful tulip shell that i lost off the side of the boat in a clumsy, stumbling attempt to show off my prize. Brooks donned his dive equipment again and went down for recovery – surfacing with the shell and a few other lovely prizes. It wasn’t as interesting a dive as the one he took earlier in the week at Alice in Wonderland in South Bay on Ginger Island, but good search experience for his log.
We had a nice day of sailing and stopped off for an hour or so at Sandy Spit, the ideal tropical isle with the single leaning palm tree where i took this photo:
Our last stop was Great Harbor in Jost Van Dyke, only four miles long, named after a dutch pirate and known as an unspoiled “barefoot” island with a mere population of 200, a main street lined with restaurants and bars, the most famous of which is Foxy’s. We were privileged to catch Foxy Callwood himself singing in the afternoon and later during our dinner. He is notorious for dirty and corny joke-telling, and for making up songs about the people he meets and singing to them. He sang to Brooks who carried his shoes up from the beach on his hands and sang about him “wearing gloves on his feet.” He then sang to me as i took photos and encouraged me to use the flash or all i would get was “eyes and teeth” since he didn’t plan on getting his “black ass out into the sun.” Foxy’s throws infamous parties, one of which is New Year’s Eve. A New York Post journalist once wrote that there were only three places in the world to be on New Year’s Eve and voted Foxy’s as one of them. A staggering amount of people showed up that year and with all the boats, they turned the harbor into a giant raft. This tradition still continues . . .
We enjoyed a fabulous steak and lobster feast. The large, spiny lobster was fresh from the nearby Anegada Island. The music was enjoyable, the people danced wildly amid the Christmas lighting which still hung like colorful icicles from all the roof edges. Mind you – Foxy’s is like a sprawling lean together of tin roofs and wooden poles on which all manner of objects are stapled – any part of the structure it can be affixed to. The ceiling and visible areas are covered with business cards, t-shirts, boat flags, license plates, even signed underwear. All of which is proof of the many people the world over who have visited Foxy’s: a place that began as little more than a lemonade-stand-size bar, supposed to be open for one day only, and “has evolved into a major cultural force.” I know this to be the case because when i wear my Foxy’s t-shirt home, people smile and want to talk about it.
We stayed until the karaoke began and the overweight, sun burnt tourists began dancing to “Do you love me?” by The Contours.
We proceeded to wander down the beach to Corsairs Bar where Vinny “The Blade,” and wife Debbie were our fine and fabulous hosts. The last time we were there, we caught the last half of The Sopranos followed by Deadwood, where we invented our drinking game. Any time the word “fuck” or “cocksucker” or any derivative thereof was said, we took a drink. When someone was shot or died, we did a shot. We ended up giggling and toddling off to the dingy that night and pouring into bed i can tell you!
This time, we were treated to some drinks and interactive music from Reuben Chinnery. We were all (all meaning about 6 of us) encouraged to grab a percussive instrument out of a large milk crate including tambourines, shakers and a few things i failed to identify, and begin playing along. Reuben was wonderful, did a fine rendition of “Summertime,” and when a light rain began that chased us under the awning, he called the rain, “liquid moonlight.” A funny little drunk character named “Nippy” unloaded his hand-collected and crafted seashell necklaces onto the bar. i bought one and then he asked politely if he could touch my hair. Of course – i permitted.
I got to meet local artist, Aragorn who came by on his boat with t-shirt prints from his studio in Trellis Bay on Beef Island and also we received another visit from Deliverance, a small supply boat that offers ice, fruit, fresh baked goods and will pick up trash bags from your boat.
On the way back into Tortola, Brooks and i had to put on full rain gear. Two squalls hit us with winds and pelting rain and we had to motor all the way back in. We cleaned up the boat, collected the linens and cleared out. We were able to take a taxi into Road Town to see some local flair and culture.
As we waited to board the small plane, i noticed one of the women waiting with us. She had sung a Bob Marley song at Foxy’s during the karaoke madness. She hid her dark and lovely face behind her long, beautiful dreads and laughed as we said we recognized her. Turns out she is one of Foxy’s cousins.
My reward for the grey skies and the rain on the last day was a rainbow appearing just over the hillside as i walked onto the tarmac and boarded the plane.
With Douglas Adams on my iPod and into my ear, i drifted off to sleep. i was too tired to write in the little journal i brought with me, a journal whose pages rippled up from the wet and the salt, like the bends in my hair, some of the thoughts which are written here now.
i will be posting more snippets of memories in my scrapbook and my formal gallery as i look through the mega-folder of photos i took.