I was up in the hills with family last week, in the Blue Mountains, probably my favourite place in the world. One night I sat on a balcony, watching lightning flashing over Kingston just after sunset. I called my granddaughter to come and see & she climbed up on my lap to watch with me. After the first flash of lightning lit up the sky, she said, “More!” I explained to her that the lightning doesn’t come when we want it to, but that if we sit patiently and watch, we might see it again. And we did, a few more times.
There are so many smaller things to see also, like new mango leaves in the morning rain……moss growing on roof shingles……and cat tails (Acalypha hispida) sparkling with dew…
My love for the Blue Mountains goes back to childhood summer holidays, when we used to spend time at the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) camp at Newcastle. It was possible to rent some of the cottages and my siblings, cousins and I remember those times as magical.Just part of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain range…
In Jamaica today, when most people hear “Catherine’s Peak”, they probably think of the brand of bottled water by that name. That isn’t unexpected, but there are others – myself included – who think instead of the peak in the Blue Mountains…Catherine’s Peak itself!
Catherine’s Peak is located in the parish of St Andrew, and is about 4430 feet high. (1350 meters)
It is just above the Jamaica Defence Force Training Depot at Newcastle. A paved road has been cut up to Catherine’s Peak, but when I was a child and we used to spend time at Newcastle in the summers, there was no road, just a path. My brothers and cousins and I looked forward to our obligatory climb to the Peak. We were quite in awe of the fully equipped recruits who would run to the Peak and back as part of their training; they completed their run in the time it took us to go halfway up to the top!
Catherine’s Peak was reportedly named after Catherine Moore, wife of Lieutenant Governor Henry Moore & sister of historian Edward Long. In 1760, she is supposed to have been the first woman to climb the Peak (though this does discount the fact that a Taino or Maroon woman may have done so before her!) A more mundane origin for the name is suggested in the book “Jamaican Place Names”, however.
Shrouded in mist or shrouded in legend, there she is…Catherine’s Peak!