Magazine article Sierra

Bahamian Dreams

Magazine article Sierra

Bahamian Dreams

Article excerpt

I leave Wyoming with a suitcase of projects, telling myself that I'll have time for them once I get to Eleuthera. But for the first week I wander the empty beaches in an idiotic idleness, watching curling waves and spiral-tailed lizards. The pile of projects sits in the corner, growing limper and more humid, as out of place as my woodsmoke-scented winter coat. The warmth of the island, the pure colors, and the rhythmical sea are a gentle eraser on my cluttered psyche, restoring clean white space.

Eleuthera is a limestone island, and many of its beaches have rocky stretches. On a morning walk I discover a baffling creature in the intertidal zone. Stuck fast to the rock as if it were a mineral growth, it looks something like a trilobite, with a leathery hem that helps it stay in place. I can see no provision for moving, eating, breathing, or excreting - no indication that it is alive, except that it probably wouldn't stay so firmly attached to the rock if it weren't.

One day we drive down the coast to Tarpum Bay to meet the fishing boats, which every afternoon pile their catch of grouper, porgy, hagfish, spiny lobster, and conch on the concrete pier for buyers to peruse. The mountain of conch is an especial treasure: mighty shells coated with seaweed, though their fluted openings remain dazzlingly polished, a perfect tropical hot pink. A young man with a bleached topknot of dreadlocks stands by the conch pile, whacking the shells with a small hatchet, then making a knife-cut through the opening. …

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