Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Monday, August 27, 2007

Out Island Minnowstry

Life in the Bahamas, the laid back, time eternal, sunny and breezy Bahamas, takes on a whole new meaning of existence once you spend time there. Arrived on Saturday evening – still able to use sentences with nouns, verbs and oral punctuation. By Tuesday, the nouns went AWOL, and by the following Saturday grunts, groans, and audible ahhhhhs were all we needed to communicate with one another. Which, I realized was in all actuality a very good thing. Because when your mind calms down and those good and evil voices in your head finally shut up, you have a chance to focus on life outside of what’s going on in your little sphere. Why, there is a whole universe outside of you where living creatures of every kind are busily engaged in the moment.

There are so many good things about Man O War Cay. That is if you’re looking for a vacation to rest and relax. Not one restaurant except an ice cream shop! We took our own food and traded USDA beef with Walter at the Man O War Cay Hardware Store for fresh lobster that he had caught. There were two small grocery stores where each item was well over $3.00, a bag of potato chips fetched $4.99 and that was NOT the family sized bag. Main Street, the Queen’s Highway was only 10 feet wide, just wide enough for two golf carts to pass. Did I mention that there are no cars on the Cay? Uh, no stoplights or streetlights either but we did have electricity. So we listened to Radio Abaco. That was very entertaining. Worldly music of every kind but infused with a reggae beat. Classical, Pop, Rap, no matter, it all sounded island like. The weather report went something like this. In a part patois, part English/Scottish tongue…..Today, (pause) Wednesday. (long pause) Sunny. Maybe some breeze. I’d look outside and sure enough, he was always right. Sunny with some breeze.

Our days were a mix of scheduled lethargy. 8:15 or so awake. Sit, listen to radio, drink coffee. Float in the turquoise blue waters and decide what to eat at our next meal. Make and eat the meal. Sit, read, watercolor, needlepoint. Float in the turquoise blue waters and decide what to eat next. Nap. Go to the dockside, feed sea life and watch sunset, have cocktails. See moon and stars emerge go to house, make and eat dinner. Go to moon roof and watch for shooting stars. Fall into bed. Get up the next day at 8:15 or so.

Occasionally we would walk from one end of the cay to the other, walk on conch beach and hunt down conch with our spaghetti scoops. What a great catch we made the first day, seven conchs, two sand dollars, a sea urchin, two limpets and several other various shells. We visited the Man O War Cemetery where, oddly enough, all of the headstones had the same last name. So did every native islander for that matter. Hmm.

Really though my favorite part of each day was sunset. We would sit on our dock facing west, and watch the sun set over Abaco Sound. Ahh, the Bahamas! Chuck and Marcia fished and I began a new minnowstry.

The first evening the sea gulls where put out. Who was dock sitting in their space? I had bits of a hamburger bun and began to feed them. At first I threw the bits into the water and they would dive down to pick them up. Then I noticed that they sat on the post and inched their way closer to me, so I tested them and threw some bun closer. My finding: Sea gulls have personal space. Three feet and no less. Good thing too because MY personal gull space is three feet.

So began my minnowstry with minnows. They were dependable and came each evening to the dock to be fed. Fishes and Loaves, Fishes and Buns, Fishes and Croutons and Doritos, they didn’t care. I guess when you’re hungry what you eat really doesn’t quite matter so much. Here’s what I learned about minnows. (Chuck thinks I should apply for a research grant from Yale to do further work in the Bahama’s with minnows).

They are, of course, school fish. They swim in schools, you never see a singular minnow, they live in relationship to one another. When one turns they all seem to turn simultaneously. I never saw one fight with another. Some minnows were more aggressive but that was accepted.

I noted that there are four different schools of minnows grouped according to size. Pre School, Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. The little pre schoolers were probably about three-quarters of an inch long. Elementary schoolers I’d say about and inch and a half, middle school two inches and high schoolers three inches. They kept to their own schools, no cross overs, no getting ahead of the class.

The pre schoolers stayed very close to the bottom and hardly came out at night. The others came out for my offerings with the biggest at the top and the others layered underneath. When I would throw bits of food in all of the fish would swim in a frenzy to the bits and then quickly swim away from it, one or two had a nibble in its mouth but it was rare that one minnow hogged the entire bit. The food sank to all three levels and the frenzy went on at each level.

In the morning on the dock the little guys were there sunning themselves in the shallow water. I had some remnants of the prior nights feast which I threw out to them. I’m afraid that they didn’t swim to the food, but were scared out of their teeny tiny little fishwits. They shot away in every direction. I’m sure that if I were there longer I could have trained them to get the food. But all things come to an end and so did our stay at Man O War Cay.

Everyone needs a vacation with no agenda every once and a while. Nine days was my limit and I got antsy but it was essential to slow down my mind, my body. Oh and by the way, I got one heck of a tan. I couldn’t have begun an out island minnowstry without time. I wouldn't have been able to see the sun rise and set in all its daily glory. A space of time was created for me to begin the real process of release and to embrace the future. Ahhh, the Bahama's.


Cynthia said...

I am drooling with envy...

Padre Mickey said...

I'm glad you had such a nice, restful time. Ready for your next move?

Suzanne said...

Padre - you bet I'm ready. Thanks

chuck said...

So glad you had a good time! Us, too! C&M with love.