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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 3

Wildlife Wonders- Frigate birds

As I look out to sea I often spot 2 or 3 large black birds circling in the sky. These frigate birds have large pointed wings, shaped like a prehistoric Pterodactyl and deeply forked tails. I have rarely seen them flap their wings. They just soar and glide on the air currents above the ocean and so I find them quite mesmerising to watch. Their wingspan is over 2 metres across and their bodies are about a metre long. They have a white patch on their front and the males also have a red pouch on their throats. The breeding season begins in March and this is when the males puff up the red pouch on their throat to attract the female. They rarely land on the water because their wings are not water-resistant like other seabirds. So instead of diving for fish like most seabirds, they often steal food off other birds and so they have been given the nickname of being ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’

Grenadian Gifts- St Georges market

This week I had my first trip to the capital, St Georges, since returning here. There are various ‘Grenadian gifts’ to be found in this lovely Caribbean town but today I want to introduce you to a friend of ours called Gloria. Within St George’s market, there are various spice sellers and Gloria is pictured here surrounded by her colourful stall of goodies such as cinnamon sticks, spice bags and gift baskets of spices as well as various jams, sauces and other items. The market is situated close to the cruise ship terminal and so it is a popular stop for tourists to buy souvenirs. Gloria is easy to find with her ‘Gloria’s Spices’ sign above her stall. It was good to see her again though it was sad to share the news with her of Hosten’s passing. As a widow herself, she was understanding and caring as like many Grenadians, she has a welcoming warmth, deep faith and a caring heart. If you are ever in St Georges, the market is worth a visit and Gloria and the other sellers will be glad to see you.

Reflections from the retreat

The ancient Celtic traditions teach us that we share the earth with nature and that we need to respect and care for the wildlife around us. As Celts became Christians they talked about having two sacred texts to learn from and that as well as the Bible, that they were also to read creation as another communication from God. This resonates with me as I begin to build my new home surrounded by such beautiful land and seascapes. I have been walking round my local area and I am beginning to get to know my new neighbours – not just the people in the community but the hills, the trees and especially the magnificent sea.

This week I walked to the end of Levera beach and was suddenly reminded of taking that same walk with my late husband, Hosten, when we were last here together. Memories of our conversations and talking about our plans flooded back and I could feel the wave of grief overwhelm me. I sat and grieved as I watched the waves. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, I had the beach to myself and so I felt free to cry and pray and listen to the waves. I wondered what the sea wanted to teach me. I watched the accumulating force of the waves and the growing white foam as they approached the shore and as the waves built up, they resonated with my build-up of grief. Then the wave crashed and broke on the beach and as I cried, I felt that same crescendo of emotion and then afterwards the calmness of the gentle wave receding back. It was as if the sea was my companion and confidant, listening to me and sharing in my grief. I sensed a deep calm and constancy in the eternal tides. If the sea was speaking, it was saying just keep doing what you’re doing, as I do, just keep going with the ebb and flow, allowing the waves to come, to crash and to pass. As I watched each passing wave, I knew I could face my waves of grief and to trust the process as I have done before; to allow the grief to rise, to peak, to break over me and then to ebb away. As I sat there watching the sea, words I wrote as a teenager came to mind – ‘Thundering white horses, gallop up the shore, Crash and break upon the rocks and then return once more.’ I can never remember the rest of the poem but another poem came to mind. A poem that meant so much to Hosten and I as we prepared to move here and that was read at his funeral.

I built my house by the sea.

Not on the sands, mind you;

not on the shifting sand.

And I built it of rock.

A strong house

by a strong sea.

And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.

Good neighbours.

Not that we spoke much.

We met in silences.

Respectful, keeping our distance,

but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.

Always, the fence of sand our barrier,

always, the sand between.

And then one day,

-and I still don’t know how it happened -

the sea came.

Without warning.

Without welcome, even

Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,

less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.

Slow, but coming.

Slow, but flowing like an open wound.

And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.

And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.

And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.

That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbours,

Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbours,

And you give your house for a coral castle,

And you learn to breathe underwater.

(Sr. Carol Bialock)

So as I walked back home, I felt lighter in spirit as if I had talked to a close friend. I felt that I was getting to know the sea as my new neighbour and I felt a sense of peace and comradeship with this new friend and a sense of connection to my Celtic heritage.

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