The Goodbye Feast

Po and Gertie waiting for dinner

It’s 9 AM in Tarpum Bay. The sun shines, the sea is calm, and the bird that lives in the guava tree is singing his melodious and complicated song. “It’s a ‘treasure bird’ “, Kervin tells me. “No,” Brenda says, scornfully. “Kervin, it’s a TRASHER”.

An argument follows: “Brenda, you don’t know nothin’.”

“Kervin, I does know my birds. What do you know, anyway? Nothing but FISH.”

I’m at my computer, so I Google. Nothing for ‘treasure bird’. Nothing for ‘trasher’ either, but Google asks, “Did you mean thrasher?” We look at the photos. Yep — that’s what we meant.

At any rate, the bird’s song is indeed beautiful and despite Google, Kervin probably has the correct description — the bird is indeed a treasure. It’s brightening this perfect March morning as I sit on the deck, watching the sea and the children in their navy and white uniforms heading off to elementary school.

Brenda’s plan for today is to cook a feast, a farewell dinner for me. “You don’t worry, Miss Judith,” she tells me, “you will like everything.”

I know I will: Eleuthera is carbohydrate heaven. She explains the menu: fried red snapper, baked macaroni and cheese, yellow rice, pork chops, slaw, and vegetables. In addition (there’s more???), Lynn is constructing her version of the Coconut Lane Cake we experienced on our trip to Spanish Wells— and that involves a cookie-crumb crust, and mounds of fresh sweet whipped cream.

All of this is an all-day project, of course. Brenda and Kervin are both excellent cooks, but Kervin is critical. He comes by our house about noon to offer suggestions. “Brenda”, he says, “Number One, you is too slow. Number Two, you use too much salt. Number Three,” he examines the mound of finely chopped vegetables, “You chop too big. Number Four…” He tapers off, sensing the mutinous gaze of the three women in the room. “I be back later.”

‘Later’, of course, does not mean dinner hour for Kervin. At 5:30 we are all assembled — the grandchildren, Brenda, Lynn and I. But no Kervin. “He fixing the car,” Po explains.

And so we gather for the feast…and it is indeed wonderful. Brenda gives me an elegant necklace with a red coral pendant and black beads, and we cry a little: I won’t be back again until next year.

Kervin interrupts any sentimentality with his explosive entrance. He’s followed close behind by his grown son, Calvin, and Calvin is followed by Brenda’s grown son Tario — feasts, after all, are for family. The mound of food rapidly diminishes and we are left with only a few vegetables and a pile of fish bones.

And me, I am left with memories of warm and friendly people, sunshiny days, a treasure of bird song, and a lovely red coral necklace.


3 thoughts on “The Goodbye Feast

  1. 😦 It is tough to leave friends, no matter where you are. But… your friends in the north are waiting to welcome you home! See you soon. Safe travels.

  2. Judith,
    I am just letting you know that Roseann just returned to Skilled Nursing from the hospital very recently. She wanted me to let you know she was here.

  3. It’s been a treat to visit your blog over the past few months. What you share about Eleuthera always puts a smile on my face and an ache to be there. We just cancelled our annual month of May adventure to the island. So much for making responsible choices every now and then (certainly not any fun). Will look forward to your return to the blog next winter.
    Deb Hall

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