“Miss Judith, here I is!”
Yes, there she is, my Bahamas sister, Miss Brenda. She was resplendent in her flowered yellow dress and her beautiful smile, and we both laughed with delight at the silly bright yellow sports car she’d rented to pick me up. Several large men willingly helped us stow my over sized bags in the tiny trunk and back seat, and away we went, down the road to the Tarpum Bay cottage.
Brenda showed me the work that Kervin, her husband, had done while I was gone: new steps, lattice work on the patio, some new cement on the deck. And she gave me my homecoming gift, a beautiful coconut tart Kervin’s sister had made and Brenda had carefully carried back on the airplane from Nassau.
My world grows as it shrinks. For the next three months I’ll be surrounded by the pink and white walls of this small cottage, the blue sea and white beach a few steps from my door, and the rich smiles of my Bahamian friends and neighbors.
I write this on a Sunday morning, a warm clear day. The Methodists next door sing enthusiastically, if not tunefully, of God’s love, and I think the drummer has improved since last year—even if the organist has some more practicing to do. I muse on how chaotic their church service seems: we white folk seem so neurotic about the order of things—Welcome, Hymn, Reading, Hymn, Sermon, Hymn, Benediction, Coffee. My neighbors here, on the other hand, begin singing, pray a little, sing some more, shout and clap some, sing happy birthday to everyone with a celebration this week, and end the hour and a half with more singing. All tunes are accompanied by organ and drums, and swaying and clapping.
It’s hard to keep my body still, across the narrow street where I am sitting on the deck watching the sea and listening to the singing. Grizzly, Brenda’s dog, has adopted me and naps at my feet, rousing himself only to bark at some imagined threat. He stays on the deck through the night, not wanting food or water, just an occasional pat or a friendly word.
Later, I’ll have some of the fresh watermelon my friend Mano brought yesterday when he came to show off his new baby daughter Kitty, and his girlfriend Rachel. My first art commission of the season: the trade of a watermelon for a sketch of Kitty!
Tonight Miss Brenda will bring me dinner—macaroni and cheese and some baked grouper. “You don’t really have to feed me,” I say. “Miss Judith,” she says, “everybody needs Sunday dinner.” (So much for my diet plans). I did go over to Bert’s for the Best grocery yesterday and stock up on eggs and oatmeal, and such. I also had to buy a five gallon jug of water, and I said to Kenneth, who was checking out my groceries, “I’ll find a strong guy to come and get the water.” He looked at me in surprise and said, “I’ll take it to your house.” He loaded my bags and the big water jug into a grocery cart and brought it all down the block, up the steps and into my kitchen. Now THAT gives a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘carry out boy’.
It’s seventy degrees here, and breezy. Everyone but me wears jackets and knit caps, and Brenda wraps herself in my pink Christmas Snuggy when she visits my house with its windows open. Me, I just sit in the sun, in my t-shirt and shorts and bare feet. Life is good.