Tobago

Tobago
Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

Many of us know Richard III's most famous lament. Few of us understand its significance. Fewer still realise how the national characteristic - tolerance - can ever so slowly but steadily insiduously turn against us.

Do we know the whole story that led to Richard III bawling, "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" Well, here it is. The groom who was sent to ready the King's mount hurried the blacksmith who didn't have enough nails to secure the fourth shoe on the horse that threw Richard III in the heat of battle. Immortalised in the verse:

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost,
For want of a horse, a battle was lost,
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


The big lesson, of course, is to pay attention to the right process or detail in a timely way. What the Bhagavad-Gita defines as "right action."

We come to many situations in our country today where the expedient trumps the correct, the end justifies the means; the short cut over the proper way; people are killed, bounties are raised and more people are killed.

The manager of a small business is clearly upset. She wonders whether that man selling from the back of his pick up across from her place of business is legal. But enough people are stopping, parking dangerously on the shoulder-less road. Further along, another vendor has sought the sanction of a business with a big carpark. They may be productive, but surely these vendors are not right, not ethical. 

"A man has a right to earn a living nah?" is the common justification of those persons who choose to sit on the fence of right and wrong. "Eating ah food" has come to take precedence over right, legal or ethical. We have dissed the long slow climb to civilization and we are back in the jungle.

The law of "eat ah food" has allowed the planter to grow his pawpaws at the side of the road on land that he does not own. The squatter to build the newspaper table that grew into a fruit and vegetable emporium and his home on the shoulder between the main road and the river.

It's worse in our institutions than it is on the public roads. With a nation to build, contracts go out, and soon anyone who has a piece of the Northern Range is quarrying the stone and selling to a highway contractor. No questions asked.

With a nation to defend, money chases murderers. Somebody knows, but nobody talks. What is worse than the death of citizen is the certain knowledge that there are - at least three - persons who plotted and executed a plan to kill. And who may, in due course, be found dead somewhere, minions in an industry of murder.

With higher education for all, the quality of learning is compromised by the greedy, the pretentious, the uneducated as teachers. To be unqualified in the classrooms of higher academic institutions denies knowledge to students, and international respect for the institution. And so it continues.

On the winding mountain road to home, cars careen around corners hemmed in by the cliff and the precipice. Worse is to see drivers attempting to negotiate the turns one hand clamped to a cellphone on the ear. Use of cellphones and seatbelts are two simple rules for public safety, but do we observe them? 

We are naturally indisciplined, we are told by a regional councillor, as if this is justification for not only not recycling, but for littering, or for tossing used disposable diapers into bins labelled for clean plastic. We lack - not laws - but common courtesy, consideration for anyone but self.

There are very simple things that all citizens can do. Start with those things and the rest is actually easy. Each of us is given the part he or she should play. Some parts take more courage than others. Isn't it time we accepted personal responsibility.

I fully support Hulsie Bhaggan's plea and sentiments:












Friday, May 2, 2014

Dry season gardens

It's the heat of the dry season. The humidity is so low that potted plants on the porch shrivel before your eyes. Water, water, water, they gasp. Only the biggest trees are still green on their tops. And you imagine - and hope - that their roots are able to tap the liquid life that we sense lies deep underground.

Every morning, I wake to sunlight filtering through this cassia grandis
Everywhere on this island, life clings to the hope of rain, perhaps at full moon as is usual when the dry season is driest. We expect that the turning days will bring that break in the weather, even as we know that dark clouds overhead in May do not portend rain.

If you are a prudent gardener, now is the time to cut away the dry branches; compost the dead leaves; trim the trees and remove the overgrowth.

Dry season gardens are still delightful for walking. You'll find spectacular displays of all the trees that flower at this time. Not just poui, yellow or pink. But blue petrea. Cassia, gold and pink. Pomerac, Mango. And the shy forest trees now breaking out exuberant sprays of tiny orchid-like flowers. Bougainvillea. 

Take a walk in the dry season woods. You'll see silk cotton puffs wafting in the breeze. And might even find fruit. Take pity on the birds: put out a tub of water where they can bathe and splash.

Our walk today takes us through Bunty O'Connor's Ajoupa Gardens. Cracks and fissures have appeared in the dry earth. Fires have burned away precious palms on their boundaries. But the flowering is effusive, burgeoning. Life will find a way.

Vanilla flowers: one was carefully hand-pollinated by a botanist.

Rory and Bunty point the way.

These sun ripe cashes were the sweetest, juiciest. Chickland must be the cashew capital.

And mamey apple too.

Deep pink poui in the background.

A cloud of Chaconia blooms.

Pommerac flowers along the trunk and all the branches.

Orchid with gorgeous scent

Green and healthy monstera deliciosa seems to always have a source of water

Heliconias with complex bracts like straps woven from leather

Gri-gri palm

Beautiful colour in these feature plants

Bunty imploring this fire-damaged palm to hold on for the rains!

Talking to the tree!

The rains will be here by June.