Late December,1999
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"Celebrating Holidays and Counting More Blessings"

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope all is well with all of you. Thank you so much for your warm responses (those who have). This remarkable means of keeping in touch is wonderful so that nobody needs to feel so far away from us or we from you. Life continues to bless us here. We finished the last night of Chanukah on Friday as our friend Lee and her lovely daughter Deanza just popped in as we hadn't spoken all week. Lee is an attorney --very busy mother of three children--and doing a fantastic job of juggling it all along with being a wife and daughter. She has been in court every day for the last two weeks either here on in St. Kitts, the other half of the St.Kitts-Nevis federation. Flights go every two hours and cost $20.00US each way, ferries are $4.00 or $8.00 each way and take forty-five minutes. There is a new ferry the Carib Breeze--which we haven't experienced yet--and is air-conditioned so that's why the difference in price.

The rest of our Chanukah presents came in rainbows, the beautiful hand-carved locally made mahogany bed and night stands, pegs for the adjustable shelves which finally arrived on Friday. The backhoe cleared the orchard so we can begin to plant and Sunshine reopened his seaside bar and grill after the hurricane. Our home, Nevisian Paradise, (houses often have names since there are no streets) is built on a rectangle 88' x 206' approximately 300 feet above sea level so that our front view is above the horizon. The house sits on one third of the land and the orchard is the rest. We have soursop, banana, mango, golden apple, guava and many citrus trees which will now that they get the love and care that they need to flourish. We had the land behind us cleared and once again delight in the mountain view that we had when we bought the land. In Nevis, you can clear someone's land as long as you don't disturb fruit or shade trees. They had acacia which is a thorny bush or tree that attracts the goats who also eat precious flowers and fruit in people's gardens. So we are told that we did a good deed. Ruth Martin, our neighbor above the orchard, was thrilled because she had her view back after many years. Most local people just don't have the extra money to pay for things like that, so they wait for the government to repair and fix. With the hurricane, the government is busy helping those who lost homes and businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible. I feel that we are blessed that we can help improve roads and views in our village. We always ask first to make sure that we are not imposing and ask how it is done on the island as to not offend anyone. Our neighbor, whom I mentioned a few sentences ago, Ruth Martin, sings beautiful gospel. Her songs praising life, God and Jesus flow down our little valley. Her beautiful voice is often our 6:00am wake-up welcome to the day.

Back to our last night of Chanukah. Lee and I had grilled salmon brought from Los Angeles. It is one of the fish my physicians want me to eat. It can be purchased in "tins" but haven't found frozen salmon here yet, so it is one of the food treasures that Lee and I particularly appreciate. As we sat down to eat and listen to Andrew Bocelli, we noticed the egrets were flying low over the land, picking up the tidbits and morsels of deliciousness that was left for them by the backhoe. The view past our dining room double doors was Meridith's work shed and remaining items from construction. (Until the truck came to pick up on Friday, the back view for the first twenty feet looked like a deserted slums in the States with everything--except garbage--scattered in piles: trash; boxes, wood, nails, paint buckets, and tiles remnants. Beyond that our view is once again green trees and flowering bushes, coconut trees swaying in the breeze, Four Seasons Villa's rooftops and then our beloved Mt. Nevis from which I receive the most beautiful spiritual energy imaginable. Several other "foreigners" have shared that they too are drawn to the wonderful energy that flows from its verdant soul. The mountain peak is rarely clear, usually covered with clouds and thus its Spanish name which means Mt. Snow. (In the cool of a winter morning here, I have looked at Mt. Nevis from our back verandah and it reminds me of a cool summer morning we had in Switzerland).

All was peaceful and calm and the electricity went out--which usually happens sometime during the day--so we lit the lanterns and continued with our meal. The power after the hurricane was off much of time as the government continued with rolling blackouts, moving from community to community so everyone shares the burden. We read in the weekly newspaper that the Electric Department apologizes for the inconvenience and is in the process of purchasing another generator. There are two for the entire island. "When" is not a word that is part of the culture; things happen when they happen and for Lee, growing in patience has been one of the rewards of living here. I have learned to let go immediately when I see I can't do or have something that I want, because there is no sense in wasting energy. One of our daughters learned this when she lived in Holland and I saw the positive change in her and now understand emotionally how that happens.

The people continue to amaze us in their generosity, the wisdom and beauty. Of course, there will be bad apples as there are in any group, but we have not met any. We are truly blessed with the people who are our neighbors and friends.

When we sent our granddaughter, Rebecca, pictures of the land, she said, "You live on a mountain." While many people think of Nevis as an island, the island is really one beautiful gently rising mountain to 3200 feet above sea level with villages dotted here and there. Lee and I took an early walk last week, (the sun gets strong early.) We started down our gutted-pot-holed road which always requires a four-wheel drive vehicle after the rain unless you want to spend your time waiting until the sun appears and hardens the earth. (One day there were three cars anchored in the mud including a truck that was bringing a composite to fill in the holes.) Our village, Garrick's Pasture, has eighteen homes and thirty lots of one quarter to two acres each and is adjacent to Jessups a very old fishing village from which many of the Garrick's Pasture people came. In Jessups, there are people whose grandparents were born in the same house, or at least on the same land. Homes are either rebuilt in the same construction as ours of concrete and rebar or section by section is added on. Most people, especially those forty years or older, save their money and then build, room by room, preferring to wait and not have the burden of mortgages. The houses were once made from wood and coconuts shells for the roof. Surprisingly, the older homes which often appear as if a flicker could bowl them over withstand the hurricanes better than some of the newer ones. "Old folks just knew how to build, they didn't cut corners" is the explanation the locals give us. As we walked down the old paved road, many honked or greeted us "Hello," "Good morning, " or "stretching your legs." We knew about twenty people and children as they called out to us as they walked down the mountain to school or work. A Ras Tafari kindly showed us the way back to our village through one of the local paths. People are friendly and helpful; that is the Nevis trademark throughout the West Indies. The Nevisians are a very clean people, clothes always neatly pressed and children in their different shirts and shorts uniform, smiling faces, carrying packs on their way to school. The school provides a hot meal for the children. (Kids are goats--which are plentiful--children are people.)

As we turned up the road to our home after passing through pastures, woods, and seeing chickens, goats, donkeys, birds and people, we heard one last call, "Ruth, Lee." It was Junior, ten years old, one of Quincy's friends who comes over about every other day for a "sweetie," to help or have fun with the wrapping paper, big empty boxes or pipes which they use as Star Wars wands--may the force be with you.

And with that, I am about to depart. Lee is ready in the kitchen, he made homemade apple sauce and his famous salad dressing after I baked two cakes for the welcome to our family home of our children Greg, Karen and Rebecca's coming in two weeks. We are off to our favorite hang-out at Sunshine's for our swim. Haven't been able to swim this week, busy in the house and the water still rough from Lenny.

If you receive this email, you continue to be in our thoughts and prayers as we send you beauty from the stars, the glory of the sunsets and the solace from the moon, the music from the birds and breeze and the blessings from this planet we share called Mother Earth.

With love and unbelievable gratitude in our hearts for our blessings of health, family and friendship and experience, we send our "love and laters" from Nevis as always and enjoy hearing about life where you are.

Hugs, and kisses.
Love and later,