A friend came to dinner this week and brought me a sparkly seahorse picture she’d made. What a gift. Fabulous seahorses in the coral sea. She didn’t know the story of the seahorse colony I visited nearly every day when I lived on St. Lucia. She brought them because they are fabulous.
The photo is of the village of Anse le Raye. If you click on the photo to enlarge it and follow the curving road going up the mountain towards the back, once your eyes reach the summit, that’s about where I lived. Anse le Raye on one side, a banana plantation in the valley on the other. Early mornings the doves coo-cooed from the banana trees, and when the fishermen came back from sea about mid-morning with a catch, their conch-shell announcement echoed across the other side of the mountain.
We had electricity, of a sort, from the generator down the hill, but often at night we’d eat and read by candlelight. It was easier than sliding down the hill to turn on the generator and then climbing back up. through the brush. Watching out for snakes. I often cooked on a coal pot, too, a simple clay-fired grill that used charcoal Wills, the caretaker of the house, made from coconut husks. In the morning I sat on the east porch and watched the sun rise over the mountains with a cup of coffee in my hands and in the evening, I sat on the west side and watch the sun sink into the sea, often with a fresh coconut in my hand with a liberal dose of rum in the coconut water. A Wills speciality.
And almost every day, I swam in the sea. I got so I knew where the trumpet fish called home and where the angel fish hung out. And I found the seahorse colony near a shallow coral reef. I’d lie on the water surface and just watch through my mask. Watching seahorses. The males, with their big pouched bellies, since they hatch the young, just hung out while thinner seahorse seemed to bring whatever it was that seahorses ate from time to time. Mostly, they just hung in the water. One time I got to see tiny, tiny dots of movement around one male and assumed they were babies, newly hatched, but I couldn’t really see them. Seahorse, with or without sparkles, are indeed fabulous.
My friend couldn’t have known; sometimes, there’s just too many stories. But the magic remains: she brought a seahorse to dinner.