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  • Writer's pictureHummingbird Retreat

Week 31

Wildlife wonder- Black and yellow garden spider

I know that many people don’t like spiders and so the photo above is more of a focus on the web than the spider and it was taken on one of my local walks. These spiders are very common and can be found throughout North and South America as well as the Caribbean. Their bodies are a couple of centimetres in size and they sit with their heads nearest the ground. As their name suggests they are black and yellow in colour although their Latin name literally means ‘gilded silver face.’

They build impressive webs in a spiral, starting from the centre and there can be a collection of webs at different angles, if there is a small community of spiders. Their webs are particularly interesting because the spiders create four lines of amazing zig-zag patterns that stem from the web centre. This behaviour has led to them to be also known as zigzag spiders as well as other names such as writing spider and zipper spider. This part of the web reminds me of the zig-zag stitch that a sewing machine can make and these spiders are great weavers and make very neat rows of stitching! These thicker, zig-zag lines of web are called a stabilimentum. There are a number of debated reasons for why they do this to their webs such as it acting as camouflage to hide the spider or it may attract prey or another theory is that it may help birds to see the web so that they don’t fly into it and break it. Personally, I also think it makes the spider look bigger than it actually is and so it may be used to deter predators.

Grenadian gift- Darvey Beach

One of the popular, nearby beaches in our parish is called David Bay but everyone calls it ‘Darvey Beach.’ Last month I visited with my kids who enjoyed the swing at the far side of the beach, as well as going out on the paddleboard and swimming. There is a bar on the beach as well as toilets and showers and a few fishing boats. Like most beaches, it’s a quiet, laid- back place to relax and enjoy the sea.

I was back there again recently for a farewell beach party for the couple who have been running the Blue Bar at Bathway. It’s sad to see them stepping down from this role because they were brilliant at creating a great social place to get to know people, especially hosting the Friday night karaoke. They organised a BBQ on the beach (including barbequing a whole turkey!) and it was another opportunity for me to get to know more people in the area as well as enjoy a swim.

Reflections from the Retreat

I have never been a great watcher of TV but I do like to relax in the evening with a programme, to wind down before bed. I am fortunate to be able to continue to do that here by using a VPN (virtual private network) which gives me access to British TV. I particularly enjoy detective series like Vera, Broadchurch and Lewis and it is nice to be able to watch familiar programmes as well as seeing UK landmarks and countryside.

However last week Grenada experienced a different form of evening entertainment with a comet, that momentarily lit up the sky. When I saw it, I assumed it was lightning even though there were no other signs of a storm. However the next morning, thanks to our local What’s App group, I received this video and the general consensus was that we had seen Comet Nishimura.

So back to my usual evening entertainment. Recently I fancied a change from TV detectives and I have been watching the 1990’s sitcom, ‘Goodnight Sweetheart.’ For those of you who are not familiar with it, the main character (aka Rodney from Only Fools and Horses) discovers that he can travel back to 1940’s war-torn Whitechapel and starts leading a double life between there and his life in the 1990’s. As I’ve been watching him slip back and forth between the two time periods I have felt some resonance with his experiences.

Although I can’t travel through time, I am regularly in an online meeting in the UK and then, at the touch of a zoom button, I’m transported back here, in Grenada. It can be strange at times being in a meeting with people wearing jumpers and then I switch off the screen and sit out on the balcony. Gary Sparrow, the main character in Goodnight Sweetheart, comes up against 1940’s attitudes to women and gay people and other social issues of that time such as disciplining children and care of animals. I can sometimes resonate with his surprise in some people’s views around these issues as I sadly sometimes hear similar comments here. He also deals with wartime rationing and I relate to his frustrations of not being able to buy things as easily in the 1940’s as he can in the 1990’s!

The concept of time came up in something I was reading about in terms of how different cultures perceive time. The Western view is that we are walking along a timeline with our futures ahead of us and our past behind us. However, some Middle Eastern cultures which are more based on nomadic traditions, see time the opposite way with the future being behind us and our past being ahead because our ancestors have gone before us and our children will follow us.

Within some Jewish traditions, there is the idea of time being a spiral and that when we celebrate a festival we are revisiting a place in time that our ancestors have celebrated before and it is as if we are walking around revisiting certain points in the spiral each year to connect with both the past and the future. In a similar way, the Celtic tradition sees time as a circle with eight main festivals around the Celtic wheel such as the summer and winter solstices and autumn and spring equinoxes. Most cultural and religious traditions have annual festivals and we all have key dates even if it is just our birthdays and New Year. It is interesting to ponder how we see time and how important these annual holding points are in our life’s journey as connecting points to our past and future. I remember hearing a theory once that because time could be a spiral, the coils might sometimes touch to allow time travel, though I think this just happens on TV! Obviously, there is the sense of time travel when I think of the UK being 5 hours ahead of us in time and when I come back to visit I’ll be going ‘back to the future’ - in a small way!

Having moved here, my perception of day-to-day time has started to change. I still have 24 hours in a day but somehow they seem to go further here and there seems to be more time for what I need to do. Perhaps I’m just slowing down and making more time for myself and it is certainly easier doing that now I am living alone and not working full-time. But perhaps it’s also about living in a culture where it’s OK if things take a little longer and where people are willing to give each other more time.

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