Tuesday, June 24, 2008

That could never compare

A few days ago, I opened my windows and peered outside only to realize that just minutes earlier there was a huge downpour. That could never compare with hearing the rain beat down in tandem on my corrugated roof as I listened to the drum beat of heaven. Most times I would close my eyes and listen.

Today I poured four spoons of refined chocolate to make a cup of tea. A year ago I used three. In any event, that could never compare with the wonderful taste of my cocoa tea back then. Cocoa that only a few days before I would have plucked from the tree, lay out to dry, roast and then pound into chocolate.

Some mornings to breathe the aroma of the coffee I slurp down to get me going, I have to near scald my nose, so close it is to the brew. That could never compare to the aroma that would fill my house in the mornings as my mom brewed that coffee, which only days before was soaking in the rain and sunshine on the hillside nearby.

It has just taken me almost an entire morning to defrost some beef. Now, that could never compare with the fresh tender beef that still appeared red with the blood of the cow that has just been slaughtered by my neighbor. Now don’t get me started on the pig meat.

I turn on my television to see some birds in flight. These could never compare to the chorus of chirping that would wake me up in the mornings as dozens of birds merrily sang their gratitude as they sucked at the sweet smelling flowers of the field.

I’ve played the video games over and over again yet that could not compare with the unbridled joy of cracking your friends marble with a ‘toaks’ as you played marble hole, or ‘supond’ a nut, or play ‘police dejer volaire’ – hands up!

Let’s see. Should I bathe with hot or cold water today from my indoor bathroom? Even that choice could never compare with diving head first from a rock 30 feet above a river and feeling that rush of clear crystal water coursing over my skin. My other choice? Bathing in the outside shower where sometimes the rain water competes with the cold (never hot) water from the shower.

Everyday I rush by thousands of people staring straight ahead as they skillfully maneuver their vehicles over sometimes dangerous roads and several miles to get to work. Think of this and you must conclude that this could never compare with the few people you walked by in the village that were only too happy to shout a greeting, offer a smile, bid me well, and remind me that the world is a beautiful place.

That bread in the freezer? I suspect it is a few weeks old. That could never compare with the fresh, hot (always hot) bread baked in the concrete ovens heated by wood. Those days, I used to swear that white flour was one of the greatest things ever invented. Now pass the butter.

Summer time is here. The grill is out, but wait, that barbeque could never compare with the fresh meat cooked over a slow fire set in the woods.

Talking of summer. I need to keep cool, so I strike up the air conditioning (or the AC). Just part of my contribution to destroying the precious earth. I’m just trying to keep cool by shutting out the air. In a thousand years that could never compare to throwing back the windows in my house in the village (o.k. my parents house), and feeling the cool mountain breeze sweeping down from on high, spreading through the house, and keeping everything cool. Now pick the hottest day you’ve ever felt, and without the AC my house is super cool.

Tonight I twist and turn on a mattress that cost thousands but that mattress could never compare to the pieces of bedding laid out on the floor that used to be my bed.

I’m ready to trade that smile (plastic) that I got from the stranger standing a few inches from me in the elevator at work because that just can’t compare to a real nice smile from my friends in the village, and even a word of greeting.

I’m having difficulty following the storyline in that movie which I finally settled on after ten minutes of scanning through countless channels and thinking that it just cannot compare to the stories of lougarous and lajablesse, and bravery and tales made tall by people around the fire, or just sitting under the moonlight, or just gazing at the millions of stars that parade across the dark night sky.

Here we go again. The dinner bill is high really high, and I’ve already forgotten what it was I ate because I’m thinking that whatever it was it could not compare with the salt fish and fig, or roast breadfruit, or a creamy sancoch, or calaloo, or souse, or fresh cribish (crawfish), or lightly stewed mountain chicken, etc. etc. all for free, or mostly so, maybe except for the salt fish.

Today, the news is not good. A mother is arrested after leaving her daughter in a library as she hurries to a three hour shift at work. What a heartbreak! That can never compare to the lines of friendly neighbors from back then who would only have been too happy to look after the six year old as mommy hurried to work, or to shop or to an all night dance.

Lastly, think of the daily stresses of life, enough to make you cry and imagine that there is nothing to compare it to because you can’t compare stress with the absence of stress. You simply close your eyes, and think of the wonderful times and simple blessings and pray that at the very least the memories would be kept alive.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dominica drops support for commercial whaling - (By Ellsworth Carter)

Dominica will no longer vote with Japan in favor of commercial whaling, the prime minister said, spurning a benefactor that has built fisheries and delivered other aid for the poor Caribbean island.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a radio address Sunday that the decision to abstain from the vote at the International Whaling Conference, where it has supported Japan's position for eight years, is "in the best interest of Dominica."

Environmentalists said the reversal will burnish the image of a country that markets itself as "Nature Island" and could boost tourism for the former British colony.

"I welcome the decision although it is eight years late," said conservationist Atherton Martin, who resigned as environment minister in 2000 when the island decided to vote with Japan. Japan has been pushing for an end to the IWC ban on commercial whaling that began in 1986.

Environmental groups have accused developing nations such as Dominica of voting with Tokyo in exchange for financial aid. Last year, Skerrit renewed his support for Japan after receiving pledges for new aid including a fish-processing center. Japan also built two other fisheries in Dominica.

The government rejected allegations that its vote was for sale.

The next IWC conference is scheduled this month in Santiago, Chile.