Blog Vacation

My Dearest Reader,

I know you lie awake at night waiting impatiently, shaking your feet in anticipation and drumming your fingers in agitation on your arm waiting for my next blog entry. Alas I must disappoint you, Dearest, for frequent blogging and constant streaming are no longer to be.

Bushlings is taking a vacation.  A break.  Blog leave.  From the Singlestream.

The painful truth behind our sad parting is this, dear Reader.  I have distracted myself daily with this blog.  My book has been left neglected near a month and is truly poorly treated despite being my favoured child.

I know you also wait in desperate anxiety for the completion of the manuscript, and so as a compromise, I will not leave you totally bereft of Bushlings’ wisdom.  Once a week I will write to you – only because I know how much you need me.  Only for you my Dearest.  A sad shadow of the rich and constant fare to which you have grown accustomed, but I go to prepare a feast for you!  Better than no fare at all, no?

All foolishness aside guys, I’m on a mission to write a book.  Every time my hand itches to write, it’s so much easier to log in here and its the blog and not the book (and not really me in the long-term) that benefits.  Until I’m caught up it’s book all week for me.  You’ll hear from me weekly – I know I just can’t help myself so I’m being realistic – and I’ll drop an update or a sample here and there.  And so, so long my friends!  Until next Friday!

Have a great weekend!

Flowers of St. Elizabeth

They deserve their own page – the flowers of St. Bess.  In the words of Aunty Adne, St. Elizabeth earth rejects nothing!  Another post on its own will be the food being grown in St. Bess.  Keep an eye out for it in the coming days.

A working plant worthy of mention - The Marigold is planted between the crops to ward off pests

My little 5 year-old cousin insisted this was a flower. And then took the picture. TOO CUTE!

 

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Journey to St. Elizabeth

For once I took pictures on my way to St. Elizabeth, home of one of my grandparents and where one of my roots is planted deep in rich red earth. We travelled by car out of Kingston and St. Andrew, through St. Catherine, Clarendon, Porus, Royal Flat and Mandeville as I clicked and clicked out the window indiscriminately hoping for some good shots… and boy oh boy was I rewarded!

Moving out of the lowlands to the mountains

You can see the mountains in the distance and the air gets cooler and cleaner the longer you drive.  In Jamaica one misses out on the experience by driving with the windows up – our windows are always down and we never miss the smell of a bush fire, a scallion truck, the chicken farms or the ganja burning as we ride hard through the towns and villages.

The mountains of Manchester loom ahead as we pass through Clarendon

We have been gradually climbing for some time but the mountains of Manchester loom high and dark.  Every day in this season and in the summer rain falls in Mandeville, the main town in Manchester.  This parish and St. Ann compete for the reputation of being the coolest parish in the country.

Rastaman and his goat

I almost didn’t catch him! Driver was flying at this point.

Riding behind a fast-moving truck packed tight with sugar cane headed to the rum factory

This brought back memories of me as a child riding with my daddy and my uncle to visit my grandfather.  They used to call it the Rasta Truck because the cane looked so much like dreadlocks coming off the truck.   My grandfather is on my mind every time I travel this way.  I miss being his girl.

A Jamaican Sports Bar!

Not sure how many flat screens they claim to have but I’m sure West Indies Cricket is NEVER MISSED in this particular watering hole.

Typical roadside shop/bar

Rastaman not supposed to be drinking fire water or eating pork!  What’s THIS?!

A place called Pon Di River - I kid you not

I had to take a stop and get this little Oasis.  At this point we are very near Porus and Royal Flat.

P.O.N. D.I. R.I.V.E.R. See?

Fruit Stand - one of many on this route

I was to find out that the season for certain fruits has come early this year.  Mango trees have ripe fruit, oranges and star apples (the purple round ones) are everywhere, and bananas are on sale.

Road Food

The Jamaican Patty is known worldwide for it’s flaky crust and juicy meat in the middle.  I used to find this particular piece of home in England, take it to my flat and stick it in the oven for a warm and familiar meal.  Here in the heart of JA the patty is enjoyed sandwiched inside a Cocoa-bread.  Hours into our trip to St. Bess we had to make a pit stop.

Spur Tree Hill

This is my favourite hill in the WORLD!  It’s actually not a hill but a mountain and marks the border between the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Manchester.  It has at least three miles of road zigzagging down across the mountain face to the bottom.  It is one of the most dangerous driving roads especially when wet.  In his youth, my dad would fly down this bad boy on a bicycle!

Sunset over the mountains of South St. Elizabeth

Breathing fresh relief and thanking God for travelling mercies as I look over the bauxite-rich valley to the proud mountains of South Saint Elizabeth.  Almost at my place of rest.

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VACATION

There is a common characteristic in the Single Woman demographic – we like to play hero.  We work hard, we play hard, we short ourselves of sleep, we have a hard time telling the boss “No I’m not able to work this fifth consecutive weekend SIR” and many of us get to December only to realize that ooops, we forgot to take our vacation.

In the twisted corporate culture fuelled by billable hours and mercenary competitiveness, this form of self-harm has been turned into a virtue.

Ladies.  It is not.  Take your vacation.

VACATION:

1: a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission
2a: a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b: a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation <had a restful vacation at the beach>
4: an act or an instance of vacating
 Merriam Webster Dictionary (online)
A friend of mine is an accountant who works some twelve hours a day on a normal week day with frequent appearances at the office on weekends.  At the same time as studying for a professional qualification.  A brilliant woman, she never failed an exam in her life until the plate just got too full.  And it dawned on her – “Bushy, if I were to die tomorrow I would not have lived, I would have only worked!”
We shouldn’t be living to work!  Work should be a tool we use to live well.  The vacation is the reward, that moment of living well when we can simply enjoy the fruit of our labour.  It is a time of being supported by labour laws and contracts.  Guilt has no place in here.
Mind you, the vacation is not only a break from work.  There are other things we need vacation from – a vacation from studies, a vacation from relationships, a vacation from church (Yes.  I said it.), a vacation from clubs, a vacation from obligations.  And then, every once in a while, we need a vacation from our ENTIRE LIFE.
This happens to me at least once a year.  I need out of my house, away from my dogs, far from my friends, apart from my family.  I need to eat things I’ve never eaten, meet people I’ve never seen before, immerse myself in an environment totally foreign to me.  A vacation from my life.
Usually by the end of such a radical departure from my reality I am happy to return to it, refreshed and rejuvenated.  On vacations from my life I have learned some of the most profound truths about myself and stumbled upon the most life-changing ideas and discoveries.  From such life vacations I return to my world, my routine and my loved ones with something new to give, someone better to be.
To my Lady, do not neglect your self.  Bosses will come and bosses will go but She is the only thing you are guaranteed to have every day of your life for the rest of your life.  Your wellbeing depends on your provision for her, your attention to her, and your giving her the rest she needs.
TAKE. YOUR. VACATION.

Mango Dreams

© Brent Mclennon, 2011

What woke me three minutes before my alarm was the taste of mango in my mouth and the smell of star apple in the air.  The senses were so overwhelmed that I stretched in bliss, hit the bed-head, and woke up smiling.  Actually smiling.  Three minutes before my alarm.  Small miracle.

I was with a group of friends on a visit to Jamaica and we were being driven cross-country.  I had six weeks off from work and had left the work blackberry at home so the little red dot wouldn’t drive me insane.  We had driven from Kingston through St. Catherine, ever climbing, through Manchester’s mountains, and down the corkscrew of Spur Tree Hill into St. Elizabeth.  In the mountains of St. Bess we stopped at a road-side fruit stand.  None of this actually happened in the dream, but isn’t it strange how dreams come with their own memories and knowledge like a zip file?

In the dream my friends were negotiating with the language of Yorkshire and of Kent over bananas and sliced pineapples with an wide-eyed-with-awe country-man and tasting sugar-dense naseberries for the first time when a car pulled up.  I was called away by name and turned to find an old friend from my high-school days.  He was holding the biggest mango I had ever seen and looking very handsome.  (Probably because of the mango.)  He pulled off the road to speak to me and I remember lamenting to him that it wasn’t star apple season.  He laughed and pointed up to the tree above my head and, as if commanded by his finger, ripening star apples appeared and filled the air with a heady syrup that hit the tongue through the nose.

My magical friend gave the vendor his mango, asked him to slice it in half.  The mango had no seed! He then reached up to pick the nearest star apple.  When my teeth sank into the mango I woke up.

Smiling.  Three minutes before my alarm.