Late April, 2000
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"God Blessed My Seed"

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well with you. One of my earliest teachers on the island was Lloyd Atherton, a retried gentleman caretaker who knew about gardening and wanted a part time job. Lloyd became our orchard-caretaker and one of my earliest teachers. There were two major things that he taught me. First, the utter belief that all gifts come from God and secondly, patience. Lloyd also taught me bundles about gardening--Nevisian style--and that health is #1.

Lloyd looks as if he is sixty years old; he is trim, agile and gentle, a real gentleman. Lloyd told me that he used to work from "before the oil lamps were lit in the morning until after the oil lamps went on again the evening, seven days a week--in other words from before sunrise to after sunset. In fact every once in awhile, his wife asked that he stay home because his children never saw him--sleeping when he left and sleeping when he returned; they thought he was off island,. Daily, he walked over the mountain to the other side of the island to tend cattle.

Now Lloyd lives in a big, beautiful home in Jessup about a five minute walk from us. In his carport sits a new, big car. One day I asked him, "Lloyd, how did you get a beautiful home like you have?" He said, "God blessed my seed." I asked him what he meant. He told me that his son, Keith, is one of the best cricket players in the West Indies. And like many loving children who have seen their parents struggle, when children become successful adults, they build their parents a beautiful home.

The second thing that Lloyd taught me is patience, not one of my strong points in many ways--and not Lee's either. While I have patience professionally and with others, I am often impulsive and lack patience for myself-but I am learning. One day, Lloyd and I were planting a tree, a traveler's palm which looks like a huge hand-fan. If I were planting the tree, I would have dug the hole and put the tree in, taking about five minutes at the most. Not Lloyd, my teacher. First he examined, what was above the spot to be dug and what lay below-- checking for soil erosion and water drainage. Then he questioned me, "Why are you planting this tree?" I responded that I wanted this specific tree for shade. He asked me, "What time of day do you want the shade, morning or afternoon?" I responded, "Morning." He then proceeded to think about which direction the sun was going to be in the mornings in the fall season when the sun is on the orchard-side of the house or on the south. After much forethought and planning, he cleared the area above where the tree was to be planted, added some rocks to help support the boulders above it and then planted the tree. His way took a half an hour and will be good forever unless a hurricane uproots it. My way would have taken much shorter but I might not have had the shade where I wanted it in years to come. (A year later, that tree is much taller than me, but not yet big enough to offer shade.)

Lloyd also taught me how to lay out a vegetable garden to take advantage of the water flow. He kindly laid the stones for my herb garden so that in spite of my history of back surgery, I would easily be able to tend the rows of herbs without throwing out my back. Lloyd patiently and methodically planted my pineapple walk around the adult sitting rock in the upper west side of the orchard. Together we picked up banana shoots to plant our banana walk, creating a lovely banana walk at the lower west of the orchard with just the right amount of space between my fifteen banana, silk banana and plantain trees. He moved the rocks in the lower east orchard to create a watercourse for our little "ghaut" so that when the torrential rains pour down the mountain, the banana walk will not be destroyed as the previous banana walk had been washed away between the time we had purchased the land until we had began building. Lloyd also helped me to create one of my favorite spots on our land--my zinnea patch on each side of the ghaut-where I have spent special time with my granddaughter, Rebecca, choosing flowers for our bouquets and capturing wonderful photos of butterflies and colorful zinneas.

Lloyd has also taught me not to plants two days before or after the full moon, to make certain that the water coming out of the hose is cool before I water the plants, how to mulch, mix manure, combine dirt and straw, and to "trash" (cover the base of the plant with straw) to help the plant retain its moisture. When I follow Lloyd's wisdom, my plants thrive. I watched how this elderly gentleman lifted, moved, chopped and cut, keeping his limbs close to his body to prevent strain on the extremities, knees or back.

The last thing that Lloyd taught me was the example he set by honoring his body. Often when I asked him if he was too hot, he replied, "If it was, I would stop." He brought snacks for when he became "peckish" (hungry) and didn't let the clock determine when it was time to quit but listened to his body for its signal that the workday was over. He always said, "Health is #1." He not only preached it, he practiced it!!!

Now that the orchard is finished and only needs maintenance, Lloyd no longer works for us. But there isn't a time that I don't go into the orchard that I don't recall his wise words or his gentle ways.
 

                               
Lloyd destroying a tree stump - the old fashioned and                                          Lloyd explaining the wonders of
non-chemically polluting way - with fire.                                                                   breadnut, a local vegetable.
 

Love and later,
Ruth