|The approach to Simla: a short narrow track winding uphill|
|Pride of India: called Jarul or Queen's Crape Myrtle|
(Lagerstroemia speciosa) planted when the house was new
|A stand of mahogany trees to the east|
|Seeds from the Jarul tree among the creepers|
Today, over 60 years since Beebe came to Trinidad - living and working in his tropical research station for 12 years - Simla is a shadow of the naturalist's dream. The house - a graceful structure of simple spaces and many doors and windows - is an echoless reminder of the busyness and discourse and activity that once stirred here. The trees are taller now, and even if the bush is kept at bay, there are many signs of seediness as vine and root and shoot creep over well-worn pavements and walls.
|Front door and windows remain mostly closed|
|There's still green to be seen from Simla but the noise and dust are not far away|
|Cathedral high ceiling at Simla|
|Entry to Simla is along the road that leads to this quarry.|
Quarrying in this valley began in 1957.
It was Beebe who gave us the conservationist's epigram:
"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again." (William Beebe, The Bird, 1906)
It is left to this generation to find the strength and will to ensure there are no "last individuals"locked out of eternity in the Northern Range valleys of Trinidad; to be the Beebes of this new age.
To be or not to Beebe.
|Not even the living trees and vines can screen out the sight and sounds of death to the jungle|
Notes: Simla, Beebe's Tropical Research Station, is now part of the Asa Wright estate and trust, and is administered by the Asa Wright Centre.
Further reading: The Remarkable Life of William Beebe, Explorer and Naturalist, Carol Grant Gould (2004)
The View from Simla, Caribbean Beat July 2008 http://caribbean-beat.com/issue-92/view-simla