A Live Dolphin and a Live Horse 

This Christmas, the little girl next door asked Santa for a live dolphin and a live horse!

It made me smile and feel relieved that our children are grown and we no longer have to try to fulfill their Christmas dreams and wishes.

Perhaps the request was a passing fancy, maybe she has a child’s (and many an adult’s) raptured wonder at the power and beauty of animals. Perhaps it was a lucky little girl’s need to assert herself and not to be fobbed off with a jigsaw puzzle of a horse and a lunch box with a picture of a dolphin. Maybe it was a plea for authenticity, she wanted the real thing!

Since we moved here Chris and I have been looking for and finding “the real thing”!

I craved “real” palm trees – ones that grow where they have always grown and are not simply imported to beautify a concrete strip mall, a brutal parking lot. Chris needed to find his own shark’s teeth and curving shells on the beach, not just buy them in a souvenir store. We wanted to live among people who are connected to their town, and although this place swells with visitors at certain times, there are folk who are well rooted here, who work in the established industries, the paper mills and shrimp boats as well as in tourism. And there’s an old-fashioned hardware store where if you want to you can just buy a couple of screws.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not voting against all progress or suggesting that nothing new’s of merit. Among the things we like about where we live is that many people are careful to recognize and perpetuate the intrinsic worth of their environment. Increasingly, as new developments encroach on the old, respect is paid to the centuries old trees, the need for wild spaces and the sea turtles’ nesting sites. Some will say this is nothing new in these parts and point to the local street that divides around a magnificent live oak  – apparently as they trucked in the tarmac, Kate, one of the locals, sat on her front porch  with a loaded shotgun just to make sure the tree wasn’t felled. Her spirit lives on!

 

For the lyrical section, I’d hoped to be inspired by a dolphin or a horse, or even the first alligator we spotted a safe distance away in a creek. It wasn’t to be, but I did enjoy pelicans feeding at the pier early one evening.

Pudgy brown pelicans lined up on the quay as if idly waiting for a bus. Time ticks on, their silhouettes shimmer in the dusky sun streaks across the water. Impatience and anticipation sharpen their stance. With each head tilt, eye dart, bill quiver they are acutely aware of each other and the merest vibration in the fish shack along the pier. They await, poised and sleekened. The door creaks, fish fly, a fracas of wings and fierce bills. An adolescent, weighed by a fish struggling in its bill, cannot take flight. His throat convulses with the effort to swallow – determined not to lose his prey to the pelicans clamoring for spoils. The spasm fades and with a great flapping of wings he skims the water sailing low toward the horizon.

Recent Posts

Lucky

Lucky

LuckyJust a couple of weeks ago, Chris and I surprised ourselves by scaling the steep headland that overlooks Mamora Bay, Antigua.  Even recovered from the climb, the view is breathtaking. To the right, a lucky horseshoe bay surrounded by hillsides dotted with...

Mrs. Satan for President

Mrs. Satan for President

Mrs. Satan for PresidentAs she passed around an article, our French conversation teacher suggested in a mild way, that we might find it controversial. Controversial?  Sacré bleu!  That’s quite the understatement.  I was blown away! Since I grew up in England, where...

By Chance

By Chance

By ChanceSome of the best things in life happen by chance. We were enjoying a family vacation on the West Coast of Scotland when, by chance, we spotted a poster advertising the Highland Games to be held the following day on the isle of Mull in the Western Hebrides. As...