Horizon at Sandy Point

Monday, September 24, 2012

Back to the Garden

Pink for love?  Delicate Mussaenda at the entrance to the garden walk
Our notion of heaven as supreme harmony suggests sameness of emotions opinions and satisfaction, a placid ambience in which everyone lolls lazily, with or without harps wings and haloes. Even Nirvana with 24 hour yogic bliss - slipping effortlessly from downward dog to soaring crane, candle stand or light as air levitation - might conspire to be unchanging however colourful its pantheon of deities, blue Shiva, elephant headed Ganesh, many-limbed Lakshmi and Kali girded with her belt of skulls. As for Hell, many surmise that it could be the more entertaining with everybody else but the saintly consigned there.

But places of peace - as close as we may be to heaven on earth - are not without discord, discontent or differences - that is to say, life. And a garden - be it Eden or the Elysian fields - can be made anywhere. In the heart of a concrete jungle. Within the walls of a forest. By the sea. Next to an airport.
Hummingbirds love these golden bunches
On the garden island of Tobago, the Kariwak Village and Holistic Centre is such a place. For over 30 years, the owners and hosts, Cynthia and Allan Clovis, have tended these few acres using abundant flora of the islands to create a haven for birds and small creatures. Their first uniquely designed poolside huts still enchant visitors with a simple asymmetrical interior. And Cynthia's pleasing repertoire of daily menus have evolved as a Kariwak take on familiar local food, seasoned with homegrown herbs and complemented with vegetables in the most delicious ways.

Today, the village includes garden rooms entered by pathways of palms, forest vines, heliconias, fruit trees and flowering shrubs. Hummingbirds and birdsong are everywhere. Bluejays and bananaquits chase each other through the branches. And cockricos, Tobago's national bird, flap from tree to tree, to roost unsteadily on the highest branches.
Ajoupa of Peace

View across the ajoupa's polished floor

Centre of the holistic practice is the towering ajoupa with the sheen of its polished floor luring you to spreadeagle and contemplate the roof. The thatched long room invites you to rock to the breezes in a hammock. And the forest pool and waterfall, shaded by traveller's palms, will wake you up.
Secluded forest pool and waterfall

... shaded by traveller's palms

Water falling into a fish pond for contemplation

Shy koi, elusive skeins of slipping silk, a living tapestry

Four days in the garden - whose origin we witnessed in 1981 - are a timely celebration of marriage at the end of the 30th year. It's been a place for contemplation and contentment, a punctuation point, as we continue the journey. Who knows what comes around the next bend. Heaven or hell, it's all here in a garden, as in a marriage, with everything in-between, a lesson in impermanence, continuity, ceaseless change. Who needs an after-life when there's this?

Into the bush?

Luise Kimme's Tobagonian mother and child
If you believe in signs, you can see them everywhere:
heart shaped leaves for love!

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