March, 2000
Nevisian Paradise
Garrick's Pasture
Nevis, West Indies

Greetings from Paradise
"You Have Company"

Dear Friends,

Well, I still find it strange to write 2000. Can you believe it? Anyway, one of the gifts of the culture is that much the same way that "you have mail" when you turn on your computer, down here "you have company" which comes in many forms.

While we were renting Tamarind Tor last year, I remember walking down to the wash room, opening the door and jumping aback while I was shrieking at the unexpected sight of a very big frog jumping out at me. When I later told a friend about it, she said with sheer delight in her voice, "Oh, you had company!!" To tell you the truth, I hadn't really looked at it quite with those eyes, but have since learned to appreciate that company comes in many forms: wandering cows in our yard, donkeys in the back yard, monkeys throwing fruit at you at Tamarind Tor and people unexpectedly dropping in. When I hear about mice in the cupboards or donkey spiders--better know as tarantulas-prancing on the beams a few feet overhead or ants on the march to my still-warm baked cake, I don't know how welcome toward them I will feel. I am certain that in time, I will have to accept and embrace their company if I am to enjoy life down here to the fullest. In the meantime, I look forward to our daughter Gayle's and husband Nick's coming later this month. It is especially exciting as it was during their visit and time together with us on Nevis in 1995 that inspired us to buy the land on which we built our dream. Later in the month our close friends of almost twenty years, the"hiking group" come to share our mystical isle.

First our children Gayle and Nick arrived and slid right in to enjoy the beauty of the isle, beaches and the people. After roti in the local bar, they especially enjoyed the seven-tenths mile stroll to paradise beach, our favorite and still deserted beach. They left in the morning and Lee and I later found them shaded under the coconut tree hats on their heads, books in their hands enjoying the peace and beauty that lay in front of them. We swam and snorkeled together and watched the stars and sunsets. It had been Nick, five years earlier, who had taught me to watch for the "green flash" which is a green projecting ray from the setting sun over the water. Conditions have to be just in place with no clouds on the horizon hindering the sun's final farewell for the day. And, so we watched and waited until the last seconds to see if the sun sent forth its picturesque green glowing candle. Green flashes are rare but all who behold and anxiously await to sigh their "ooohs and ahhhhs" when the special phenomenon happens. The evenings on verandah sharing conversation and dinner among the tropical sounds added to the joy of having our children with us.

Later in the month, our friends, Jan, Bob, Joy and Don arrived after the arduous twenty hour trip from LA. I had warned them of my previous dizzy spell and that I wasn't full speed. They pitched in with the chores (as I knew they would) and we shared our beloved isle with them. Mornings usually began with Don making coffee, Joy cutting up fruit and Jan helping where needed. Bob was like a kid in a candy store in the mountain returning each day with new plants, new sightings and anxious for us to join him on a hike. Lee and Don went on their morning run, returning dripping wet but exuberant. Don said that in the days they were here, he never had the same pep as in California--never before realizing how much the humidity saps one's energy. Most of the days the group ventured off by themselves as I didn't have the strength to join in, but when I could, they planned their activities around my ability. With Bob as our leader, we all trekked a short hike in the rain forest, swam in the water (Jan is an excellent swimmer) and enjoyed each other's company at communal dinners. They pitched in with shopping, chopping and kitchen patrol. Even though, I couldn't partake in as much as I wanted, it was wonderful being among friends where I did not have to explain or complain but could just be. We laughed a lot, joked about the aging process and reminisced about shared times. Lee and I together with Kenneth and Veronica and our "hiking group" celebrated our 38th anniversary at a local hotel among ethnic music, Nevisian cuisine and a yummy chocolate cake. Time passed quickly and the twelve days flew by. When they left, I often fondly reflected on their unique gifts and idiosyncracies, Jan's insightful and supportive understanding, Joy's graceful walk and humor, Bob's delight in his rainforest findings and helpful ideas and Don's disciplined stretches, eating habits and humor. All are lovely and true friends with shared values, love and fondness and a desire for the best for one another. It was wonderful sharing life with them. The gift of friendship, love, respect, acceptance and comfort become more precious as we get older. Having the group down here with Lee and me and watching with joy and happiness the interaction and comradery that we all have with each other was medicine for my soul. We shared previous or gave each other new nicknames and looked forward to more times together on this planet in health and joy. (By the way, Lee's nickname has always been "Cracker Charlie" and my new nickname is "Ruby.") I send you wishes that you too have loved ones to share special times and places with.

Our hiking group - minus Don who is taking the                                   Lee and Don after a run with children's sitting
picture - in the rain forest ten minutes from our house.                        rock and bags of manure in the background for
                                                                                                                       future landscaping.

Love and later,