Last year, while enjoying Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica, we bought fruit from a beautiful island woman. This lady wore her basket of fruit like a crown and was dressed as if she was going to church. In a word, she was regal. We didn’t ask her name, but when the next vendor came by, selling necklaces made out of bead and shell, she told us the fruit vendor was her ‘Auntie.’ This time I remembered to ask a name, the necklace vendor said, “My name is Sophie.” So, the title of the painting was ordained before I even put brush to paper, “Sophie’s Auntie.”
At 24 x 24 inches, the painting is larger than I usually attempt in my watercolor painting. It is painted on Arches 300 lb Cold Press paper with Winsor & Newton watercolors. My palette had a mother color, this is a shade that I mix in varying degrees into all the other colors. The mother color in this palette was Burnt Umber. Additional colors were Winsor Blue Red Shade, Winsor Blue Green Shade, Quinacridone Magenta, Winsor Yellow, Olive Green, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. I also used my Derwent Inktense Pencils to create the flecks of color in the sand. The tip can be found here: Creating Texture with Colored Pencils. I hope you like “Sophie’s Auntie.” I relived the beautiful sunny day while I painted her and felt like I was on vacation again.
It is the week of Thanksgiving. A good time to dwell on the aspects of life that fill your heart with gratitude. Always, first in my thoughts of gratitude is the indwelling of God’s Spirit within me, and the gift of salvation he has given me. Another gift I am grateful for is my family and home. I also want to express gratitude to the people who visit my blog and add another aspect of goodness to my life. One of these is my friend Susie, writer of the blog Susieshy45.
I started the day having a good conversation with Susie through the blog comment section, and then visited her blog, and found inspiration for today’s post by being a bit of a copycat. Susie wrote today of nurturing a stray cat, and it reminded me of a sweet little stray I met in Jamaica. The adorable little kitten lived in a grated window well near our room. It fills my heart with thanksgiving to know that all around the world there are people like Susie, who have good hearts, and who, through blogging, I have met and consider my friend.
I am filled with gratitude for all of you who visit my blog. Thank you!
“Rocklands was established by Lisa Salmon, a self-taught ornithologist , one of Jamaica’s first environmentalists. Miss Salmon or “the bird lady” as she was affectionately known purchased the Rocklands property in 1954.”
In the mountains of Jamaica, near the town of Anchovy, a thirty-minute drive from Montego Bay, my husband and I entered a world unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. I posted a picture of a hummingbird on my finger a few weeks ago, and this is the accompanying story of that moment in Anchovy, Jamaica, at the Rocklands Bird Sanctuary.
Before we even encountered the birds, we were amazed by the surroundings. Sitting on the beautiful terrace, bordered by hand-crafted concrete planters, the abundance of lush green beauty began soul-soothing us immediately. For me, this was a slice of heaven on earth. I love plants, nature, and birds and Rocklands Bird Sanctuary perfectly combines all three.
The key to the experience is “patience,” our guide Fred told us, and we found it to be the case. The hummingbirds eyed us up a bit from their perches near the roof of the terrace, deciding if we were worthy of their attention.
My husband patiently held the small bottle of sugar-water and finger at the ready, and was rewarded with tiny bird feet touching down. (There is bird-seed spread on his legs to draw other birds in.)
I came away from the experience with Rocklands Bird Sanctuary forever imprinted upon my heart. I was also inspired to create a few bird feeding stations of my own, but that is a post for tomorrow. 🙂
Postscript: Don’t miss out on the trails that surround this beautiful sanctuary if you are able to take a tour.
Jamaica is one of our favorite places to visit. I love the land, the sea, and most of all the people. The DeCameron, a lovely hotel in Montego Bay, is one of our favorite places to stay. They are expanding in size, and we enjoyed watching the work going on around us. We were very impressed by this man’s ingenuity in shielding himself from the hot sun with a large piece of cardboard. The cardboard is light in weight, but its broadness cast a large shadow, protecting him from the heat. I would never have thought of such a good idea, but I will definitely file it away in my thoughts as a perfect solution for blazing sunshine.
Winter has given us the cold shoulder here in the Northeast U.S. We were spoiled with record-breaking warm temperatures throughout December, and now January is demanding we pay for it with cold, blustery wind and temperatures.
A beach scene taken at Montego Bay, Jamaica warms my heart, if not my fingers and toes. It’s also the perfect photo to use in a new challenge I found on the blog of Jennifer Nichole Wells: Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola. Challenges are a great way to discover new blogs and new blogging friends.
The color for today is Blue-Green. I think the swathe of ocean cutting through the center of the photograph matches the January 13th challenge color of blue-green.
One of the joys of our days at the Royal Decameron in Montego Bay, Jamaica, was this inquisitive Cattle Egret who visited the snack bar. He seemed to be a frequent visitor for the staff had a name for him. He was completely unafraid and had an appetite for people food. I’m so glad I had my camera with me when he visited our table. Cattle Egrets are very common in Jamaica, but that did not make the interaction with him any less divine.
I love birds, and was totally captivated by the birds of Jamaica. Now and again, you find yourself in a close encounter with an inquisitive bird. My family’s close encounter with a blue jay last year is a good example of this unexpected blessing.
Treasure Beach, on the southern coast of Jamaica, was the scene of my first interaction with a bird. In this case I met a Red-Billed Streamer Tail, or as it is better known, the Doctor Bird.
I was walking along the paths of the Treasure Beach Hotel and spotted a small bird nest in the spines of a cactus. I thought the nest, and another I had seen earlier, might be hummingbird nests, but on researching when I arrived home realized they were more likely the nests of one of the other small birds filling the air with birdsong.
The sight of the nest in the cactus filled me with such joy…an unexpected sight for someone who watches birds most often in southern New Jersey. I did what I often do when I am happy, I began to sing as I walked not caring if anyone heard me or not.
Suddenly, I had an audience. A hummingbird feeding on a flower nearby must have liked my song, he buzzed close by me, perched on a branch, and began giving me a thorough looking-over. I continued to sing, and as I sang, he seemed to listen. Lucky me that I can do two things at once. My camera, dangling on my wrist, didn’t scare him away, and I took several photos of him as I serenaded him with my chirpy hymn of praise. (In the Sweet By and By)
Amazingly, I tired of singing before he tired of listening. As I walked away, I took one more photograph of him perched on his branch enjoying the view of the Caribbean sea.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Blur.”
I am returned home after ten days spent in one of my favorite vacation destinations: Jamaica. I’ll be blogging more about my stay and some of the unique sights, sounds and activities I took part in, but for today I’m using one of the photographs I captured as an entry in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week the challenge title is “Blur.”
“A throwaway shot, or purposefully unfocused? This week, find beauty in a blur.”
This photograph was taken in the ‘blurred time’ between the dark and the dawn. As the fisherman rowed past me, I captured the photograph never realizing until just a few moments ago, that his boat was named, “God Bless.” A good reminder to me that so often in the busyness of the day, GOD BLESSES ME, and I am sometimes unaware of his hand of blessing upon my life. Thank you Lord for all your many blessings. GOD BLESS you all on this Easter Monday.
“What’s not to love about orange? It’s vibrant. It’s cheerful. It makes a statement. It’s the perfect punctuation for a punchy photo. This week, share a group of photos where orange is either the dominant color, or provides a bold highlight. Shoot for at least three photos, and look for different shades — bright neons, deep rusts, delicate peaches.”
Here are a few more of my “orangey” photographs to warm up a winter day.
Reward to me means a day walking, beachcombing or sitting on a sandy/rocky beach beside the ocean waves. I’ve been blessed in my life to have my idea of a reward fulfilled. Here are some of those ways…a reminder of a day at the beach on a cold Friday afternoon.
Sunrises and Sunsets in Runaway Bay, Jamaica…Serenity times infinity.
The fisherman, in hopes of beating the heat of the day, fish early for schools of Sprat feeding in the waters. Jamaican Sprat Fishing The fisherman make no noise, barely any splashing, as they lower their nets into the water to capture the small gleaming fish.
Shine on Jamaican Sun! One of my favorite destinations.
Do you see the bird basking in the sun atop the nearest umbrella? He resembles a wood-carving, but he is real.
The South Coast of Jamaica is much dryer than the north. Treasure Beach is a beautiful destination, but you must drive close to two and a half hours from the Montego Airport. There are two ways to go, over the mountains, or along the coast. After experiencing both ways I would definitely recommend the coastal trip. I felt like I was on a runaway rollercoaster pretty much the whole trip over the mountains.
The waves are very large and rough in Treasure Beach. This is not a place for inexperienced swimmers. You can count four rip tides in the picture above. The water is beautiful though, and incredibly warm. If you love to collect seashells and other beach drift, you will be thrilled. I can’t tell you how many sea urchins we found, most we left on the beach…we also found a few sand dollars.
One of my favorite aspects of Treasure Beach were the neighborhood dogs. Jamaican dogs have a unique look, as do the cats. Their fur is very short, and their ears very large. I loved one little fellow I named Bob; he was so friendly and sweet. I wanted to bring him home with me, but even if I could, how could you take a creature out of paradise? I loved watching Bob enjoy his surroundings.
I love Jamaica and the beautiful tropical plants and bushes that grace the landscapes and beach areas. One of my favorites is the bougainvillea. Last year I was able to purchase plug/starter sprouts of bougainvillea. Each plantlet was about twelve inches with a spray of flowers on the end. I planted them in a garden bed where they did fairly well. When the weather turned cold I brought them indoors. The bougainvillea are planted in pots this year, happily growing on my back porch. New growth is beginning to form on the ends of their branches.
My garden bougainvillea
Bougainvillea grow outside year round in some of the sub-tropical regions of the US. Here is a website with terrific facts and tips on how to grow this beautiful plant. How to grow Bougainvillea
Jamaican Bougainvillea plants
The plants can also be found in some nurseries and garden centers. If you are lucky enough to run across one of these plants give growing one a try.
What might surprise many of you about me is that in my mid-fifties I grew to love many of the late Bob Marley’s songs. My husband would affirm the fact that I have said to him many times, “I think Bob Marley’s song “Three Little Birds,” is almost Biblical. This is my favorite of all his songs. When I am stressed, I sing the song to myself, usually out loud. I don’t care who hears me. When I play the CD both of my grandchildren, who are babies still, raise their arms to have Nanny lift them up and sway with them to and fro while the sweet music plays.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27
You might also laugh a bit if you knew that at times I compose a self-portrait of myself in my mind…a pre-painting daydream, and I am in Jamaica, sitting in front of a little blue cottage with a lavender door, snapping a bowl of green beans. I’m wearing a long colorful skirt and bright top. My feet are bare and my hair is white and waving in crazy bends and dips all around my head. (If I don’t dry my hair it does exactly this…it is not white yet, but it is changing over in a hurry) There are goats nearby keeping the grass down. Chickens are running all over the yard, and of course there are lazy cats on the windowsills and at my feet. There might even be a little donkey in the picture. There is an amazing garden, full of flowers and vegetables, and most important, three little birds upon my doorstep. If you listen closely, beyond the sweet singing of the birds you can hear the soft waves of the ocean. Someday, even if I never live out the vision in actuality, I am hoping to paint my daydream, a little slice of who I would like to be.
On a recent vacation to Jamaica my husband and I took a river rafting trip down the Martha Brae. The river water is normally a bit clearer, but due to heavy rains was a bit stirred up and cloudy. Captain Spence, who has worked on the Martha Brae for 40 years, was our guide. It was a delight to sit back on cushioned bamboo and listen to Captain Spence’s stories of the Martha Brae and his history with river rafting.
As he poled us down the river Captain Spence explained the technique the captains use in building their own rafts. He also pointed out different plants and sights along the trail of the river. I loved seeing the banana trees growing along the banks while the tropical bird cries serenaded us with sweet songs.
There were many little souvenir stops along the way, but there was no pressure to buy, just an offer of merchandise if we were so inclined.
The trees formed a beautiful canopy above us. I was completely awestruck by the size of the mimosa trees. These grow in my part of the USA, but they stay rather smallish, the mimosas in Jamaica appear as large as oak trees.
These gravestones along the way were removed from other areas of Jamaica as a historical display. They are quite old according to Captain Spence.
The only drawback to the trip was the size of the raft. We went with our friend Crystal, but only two people can fit on each raft.
The captains of the rafts carve calabash gourds in their spare time while awaiting their next passengers. The gourds are amazing with many intricate details. We were happy to bring one home with us. It is already one of my favorite treasures from Jamaica. Thanks so much Captain Spence.
Jamaica is one of my favorite destinations. I am in love with the tropical foliage and trees that grow in the warm climate. My favorite plant is the gorgeous sea grape bush. When we visit we stay in a resort with beautiful gardens. The walkways are lined with Sea Grape bushes. The brilliant lime green leaves are large and leather-like, bisected by a brilliant magenta vein. I wanted to take one home with me, or some seeds, but it is illegal to do so.
I thought I had found a solution and purchased some seeds from Florida, where sea grapes also grow. To buy a plant is rather pricey.
I wish I had not bothered. In this informative article, Sea Grapes, I read that the seeds of sea grapes cannot withstand storage. I will plant them anyway, but I feel a bit disheartened before I even try. I think I am going to have to go the more expensive route and buy a sea grape plant if I want to grow this beautiful shrub as a houseplant.
Here’s a little more information on Sea Grapes: Sea Grapes