Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Grey Days: Nature’s Colours

For mornings such as this…

…when Tropical Storm Zeta in the western Caribbean Sea…

…streams rainclouds across the sky, blocking the morning sun…

…nature provides a fallback of other yellows…

…to counter the grey….


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Unknown Yellow: Nature’s Colours

I had no idea what the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool is, so I did a little online search and found out that there isn’t a scientific difference. However, in common parlance a mushroom is what’s edible and a toadstool is what’s poisonous.

I see mushrooms in my garden from time to time, but I had never seen one like this before…

I did a little online search, but haven’t yet been able to identify this yellow mushroom toadstool, growing on a block of wood from the trunk of the shower of gold tree (Cassia fistula) that fell down when Hurricane Sandy hit Jamaica. That was on October 24, 2012, almost 8 years ago. The blossoms of that shower of gold tree were, as the name suggests, a very bright yellow! This little toadstool is a paler shade…


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Sahara Dust & The View from My Window

This was the view from my window one morning last week:

view from the window week of 17-6-2020

Then a plume of Sahara dust swept across the Atlantic into the Caribbean, not an uncommon event, but this was perhaps the worst in fifty years, they said.

saharan dust

And with the dust in the air, this was the view from my window on Wednesday morning. I could not see the hills!

Sahara dust view 24-6-2020

 

 

That plume of Sahara dust has moved past us, here in Jamaica, though they say another will affect us in a few days time. But tonight, at sunset, I could see the hills again…against a salmon-coloured sky…sunset 26-6-2020

 


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A is for Ackee: An Alphabet of Leaves

An ackee leaf on a morning after rain…

P1420303 ackee leaf

…given the scientific name Blighia sapida by a botanist at Kew Gardens in London in 1806, after the infamous William Bligh of Bounty fame. He wasn’t responsible for bringing the ackee to Jamaica, but for taking it from Jamaica to Kew in 1793. (B. W. Higman, in “Jamaican Food”)P1420302 ackee leaves

The ackee was most likely brought to Jamaica from West Africa by enslaved Africans.

“As a native of Africa, the ackee was familiar to core contingents of enslaved people, and in Jamaica the tree and its fruit have never had any name other than their African derivation, the Kru a-kee. Distinctively associating it with their homelands, the enslaved may have played an active role in the plants dissemination within Jamaica. Whereas former slave village sites contain only the occasional breadfruit tree, some of these abandoned settlements are indicated by large groves of ackee trees.” (Higman, p.154)

P1420298 ackee pods

In our garden, we have both the softer butter ackee and the firmer cheese ackee trees. I much prefer the latter, as the fruit keep their shape during cooking and aren’t as likely to crumble and become mushy.P1420295 ackee branch and fruit

The largest ackee tree we have in the garden is this cheese ackee tree, which sprung up in the spot where a massive male guinep tree had been. That guinep tree was the first to fall during Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the ackee sprung up of its own accord, probably from a seed dropped by a passing bird. Bless you, passing bird!P1420304 ackee tree

It is an impressive specimen, though it did get a bit tilted in one of the storms that brushed past us in the years since Gilbert. We never get to eat the fruit from the very top of the tree, however. No stick long enough and no-one spry enough to get there.

“A” is for ackee. That’s good enough for me…


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“Stupidly Suicidal”: Esther Figueroa on bauxite mining in Cockpit Country

I read Esther Figueroa’ s column “Cockpit Country Still Under Threat From Bauxite Mining” in today’s Gleaner (Sunday, July 28, 2019) and decided to post it on my blog. So many voices pointing out where we are heading in this era of climate crisis and in so many ways we continue to ignore the warnings. We are rapidly entering a time when water…unpolluted water especially…will be far more valuable than the bauxite and other substances we mine, destroying the environment as we do so.

This is the final paragraph of Figueroa’s column, which you might want to read in full:

“When I was in Ulster Spring on May 27 for the Noranda EIA public meeting for SML 173, I looked out at the most perfect of Cockpit Country mountains, the unique conical shape completely covered in trees, and when I imagined that mountain butchered by bauxite mining my heart fell into the depths of despair. Strip mining is never good for the environment and it is never sustainable development. In a time of climate crisis with record high temperatures, unpredictable weather with long droughts and catastrophic storms, it is stupidly suicidal to be cutting down our trees and polluting and depleting our soil and water. All of Cockpit Country must be protected not just the Designated Cockpit Country Protected Area. We must not allow Special Mining Lease 173 to be granted.”

When bauxite mining began in Jamaica about 70 years ago, we may not have been aware of the full extent of the negative impacts. We have no such excuse now.

Links to Films

“Esther Figueroa, Ph.D. is an activist independent filmmaker who has been an integral part of the movement to protect Cockpit Country. Her films include Cockpit Country – Voices from Jamaica’s Heart and Cockpit Country Is Our Home. Her most recent feature documentary Fly Me To The Moon (to be released later this year) is about aluminum, modernity, the political economy of our material culture and consumption, and is a call for us to stop destroying the natural world that we all depend upon.” – Gleaner, 28/7/2019

Cockpit Country – Voices from Jamaica’s Heart

Cockpit Country - Voices from Jamaicas Heart - title - Esther Figueroa film

Cockpit Country Is Our Home

Cockpit Country Is Our Home - title - Esther Figueroa film