I had the surprise of my life about three days before Christmas this year. The holiday season is always hectic and full of surprises, but this year seemed especially so. I was working hard on the Sounds of South ‘Beauty and the Beast’ costume design project, which meant creating templates to cut and use for patterns on various costumes. I was trying to finish my Christmas shopping because Grandma and Aunt Lois, who come for the holidays each year, were coming a few days early this year.
On top of that, the boys wanted to have my birthday celebration before Christmas this year. Like many other late December birthday people, my special day is often overwhelmed by the commotion surrounding Christmas. Even so, I was skeptical about the wisdom of holding the celebration three days before Christmas. Fortunately, I did get a raspberry pie that day! That helped a little.
After a nice kluski dinner, my family staged an elaborate ‘reveal’ to tell me we would spend my fiftieth birthday (yes, it’s very hard for me to believe that too!) in the Bahamas!
They had arranged for a flight, car and house rental on a secluded bay on Abaco. It came complete with a hot tub, kayaks, and beautiful sunrises over the water. Everything had been arranged without me having the slightest idea about what was going on. That basically left me with five days to get in the right mindset for a warm-weather vacation just after Christmas. The location turned out to be amazing and serene. The images on the website didn’t do it justice. I’ve been wanting and needing to get away for some time, since the pace of my life has been really high without many pauses in between. I always talk about relaxing but I never really do. This was a forced relaxation.
It got my creative energies rejuvenated and that left me inspired. I ate very well, slept well, and I enjoyed my family and location to the maximum. I played with non-fiber media without any real goal in mind, which was a lot of fun and very artistically stimulating. One day I didn’t have my sketchbook so I pulled out my Swiss army knife and carved driftwood.
I used my pencil crayons to color a party dress on a Conch shell that was sun-bleached white. I had the time to look carefully at how tree roots grew into the coral reefs. I saw the subtle color differences in stands of pine trees and mangrove swamps. It truly was a rejuvenating period for me.
I definitely ate well on the holiday. I ate more conch that I’d care to admit, but it was so tasty and so wonderful to be there. It was perfect to get food from the local peeps far away from the touristy areas. We had conch fritters several places, including the Fish Fry village near Nassau when we landed, at the ferry to Green Turtle Cay, and at a restaurant in Marsh Harbour. I had lots of fried conch (the best was in Mount Hope on Little Abaco) and even conch salad from a local legend close to Treasure Cay. Now I’ll be thinking about conch for weeks to come.
In between meals I spent a lot of time exploring the shorelines and collecting. I picked up everything from sea biscuits, shells and coral to a well-used paintbrush, a buoy, and a special gold polyester hat that is now my favorite. The boys were pretty excited to see the humongous conch shells and brought a couple home, among other treasures. We picked up fresh coconuts and ate them for snacks. I discovered that I don’t really like pina coladas, but rum and pineapple juice with a piece of coconut on the side is very nice. Even better is rum and guava juice—yum!
We rented a car and Jim dutifully drove on the left side of the road, taking us down secret roads that led to cow paths and onto donkey paths before turning into overgrown foot paths to the ocean. We visited so many different types of beaches, from the pure white sands to the solid coral outcroppings and everything in between. We found and saw lots of live creatures, such as hermit crabs, mollusks, live sand dollars and lots of colorful fishes on the reefs.
It was a great nine days, but now I’m very inspired to launch back into making weavings in the art studio and creating costumes for Beauty and the Beast. I’m not a costume designer, but I responded strongly to this project because the performance needs sculptural costumes and my artwork tends to be very sculptural.
It’s a way of exploring a related but very relevant art form to help keep me fresh. In closing, I will note that it is a new year and there still hasn’t been a pie. I suppose I did have lots of treats in the Bahamas. The guava duff is a heavenly local treat, and the Café Florence makes “the best sticky buns in the Universe”, according to a respected travel publication. I did have a slice of pineapple pie, coconut tart, and other treats I don’t need to mention. But a fruit laden pie with berries from the summer farmer’s market? My loving husband seems indifferent to my pie needs. I guess he’s earned some credit, but my supply of patience is not unlimited.
Until next week,