Wildlife Wonder – Laughing gull
There have been a few times when I have opened my back door and these birds are circling around the trees at the back, laughing. As their name suggests, they have an uncanny cry that sounds like a deep, slow laugh and when there are a few together, I feel I have just missed out on a good joke!
They are handsome birds with their clear black, white and grey markings and quite large with a wingspan of about a metre. I usually see them flying around the garden where they are probably catching insects but as seagulls, they usually look for food on the beach. They have a varied diet including crabs, insects, fish, worms, berries and snails.
These birds can be found throughout North and South America as well as the Caribbean. However, they are less common in some parts of the Americas because are threatened by other species of gulls. But I’m sure if they were bullied they would just fly off together, laughing!
Grenadian gift- River Sallee Sulphur Springs
Grenada has a few natural hot springs on the island and this one is walking distance from the retreat house. Thankfully it doesn’t smell and, although it looks muddy, the water is clean and the colour is due to the sulphur mud in the bottom of the pools. It is difficult to see in this photo but there are bubbles coming up from the springs and there are five of these pools on the site as well as the river.
People come here to bathe and you can put the mud on your skin to help with skin complaints and insect bites. You can do the full process of bathing in the pools, drying the mud on your skin, rinsing off and then finishing with cocoa butter. There is also a bar and a very good masseuse so a great place to relax if you want a change from the beach.
These sites have been places of healing since Grenada was first inhabited by the Arawaks and Caribs. They might not have known the medical value of the spring’s antibacterial qualities but they knew that bathing here was relaxing and good for their bodies. We now know that as well as helping with skin conditions and stress, it improves circulation and can act as a natural painkiller which is why people with arthritis and other chronic conditions, find a visit here so refreshing.
Reflections from the retreat
One of the things I have been trying to do over the last few years is learn how to draw and paint. It is something I would love to be able to do and so I took a few classes when I was in the UK and now I have a routine of working on it, either doing a sketch or trying to paint something once a week. It is easy to be inspired here because there are so many amazing plants, animals and views with such vibrant colours. Over the last few weeks, I have been having fun just mixing blues and greens and trying to get the colours of the sea. I have to work hard at not worrying about the final look of a piece and just enjoy the process and my rationale is if I practice each week, that I should in theory improve, though I can’t quite see that yet!
Each week I see what I feel drawn to, and then draw it. I had never noticed those two uses of the word ‘drawn’ before I started this process but there does seem to be a connection. I have drawn the flamboyant trees in front of the house and the large cactus that is the first sign that I have reached home. I have drawn the view from my balcony and even tried drawing my children, around the time of their visit. It is interesting how my relationship changes with the plants I have drawn. It’s as if by sitting with them for an hour or so to sketch them, I feel that I have got to know them better and now I see them differently as if we are better acquainted. So in some way, I am ‘drawn’ to what I have drawn.
The Grenadian landscape has inspired many artists and I have got to know a couple who work in this area. Jonah sometimes sells his paintings on Bathway beach and he likes to do portraits and colourful pictures of St Georges. I particularly like these pictures of St Georges with their multi-coloured houses and roofs and they capture the vibrancy and colour of the Caribbean. The other artist I have met is Doliver whose paintings are in the photo below. He is particularly famous for his metal fish which are sold in a few of the tourist shops in St Georges. There are two beautiful art shops/galleries on the island - the Art and Soul in Grand Anse and Art N Spice Creations in St Georges. Whenever I am in the area, I like to pop in and wander around and one day I hope to be able to buy a few pieces for this house.
Along with professional artists, I have met others who enjoy drawing and creating and I have discovered people with various artistic and creative talents. One of my dreams for this house is to convert the garage into a ‘Creative space’ for artwork and crafts. It would be great to have various creative workshops, art therapy sessions, and space to be creative and to experiment. It would be another aspect of wellbeing and reflection through the use of art. It might also help me to brush up on my artistic skills!