21 February 2013

Reality Bites

Scene 1:

Home in Paradise, January 2012. It is Pinks' birthday, and according to London family tradition, we are doing absolutely nothing we don't do every other day here--i.e., going to the beach for our mandatory afternoon feet-in-warm-sand nap.  Just as we are packing the towels, the phone rings. Caller is Dawn, our friend/house manager, who lives up the hill. "Hey, guys, got a few minutes? Thought I would stop by."

"Sure, we got lots of time. Come on over."

And she comes with her son Gabriel carrying an object that he hands to Pinks:



In case you don't recognize it, no, this is not a Labrador Retriever. It is a four-day old baby goat that somebody abandoned on Dawn's doorstep. But Pinks is nevertheless delighted.  She has been campaigning for a pet goat to be kept in St. Barths for years.  She is thrilled I have relented.

Well, not exactly.  The arrival of Dawn on Pinks' birthday was a coincidence. Dawn did not know it was Pinks' birthday. She just brought the goat kid over because the human kids, i.e., Audrey and Nick were visiting that week. When Dawn departs, she takes the goat home with her where the goat kid will continue to be fed with a baby bottle and become fast friends with Dawn's real Labrador Retriever, Buddy Boudreau. 

Hey, life has its disappointments, and Pinks will have to continue to focus on her pet geckos.

Scene 2

Fast forward 13 months.

Pinks, Jesse, and I are going to Saline Beach.  For the unfortunates who lack the experience, Saline Beach is without a doubt the most beautiful spot on the island.  Facing South, it is a half-mile long deep curved beach of pure white fine sand, bordered on east and west ends by steep mountain peninsulas. If you choose to sit close to east end of the beach, you can frequently hear the bleating of the wild goats who frequent those hills.

To get to the beach, you park your car in a narrow parking lot, bounded on two sides by salt ponds, which, until the 1960's,  were the only industry on the island (aside from smuggling, and before that, piracy) and then you begin a considerable hike that includes a steep climb. If you are a beach person, this is as good as it gets.  

At the threshold of the beach path is a gate on the left, locking off a private dirt road that leads to the foothills of the peninsula that borders the beach's east end. I never saw anybody use that road, and had no idea what use anybody could make of it.

But on this day, a weather-beaten truck was exiting the road as we approached the gate.  Two men in the cab.  They were not wearing coats and ties. The truck came through the gate, the driver disembarked and replaced the padlock, and had returned to his spot behind the wheel as we came abreast of him.  We exchanged "bon jours", and then we noticed two baby goats tethered to a stake in the back of the open truck.  Pinks, of course, immediately oohed and aahed, and remarked how jealous she was that these guys had pet goats and she did not not.  The guys understood only French and said nothing.  But I had a sense of what was up after I asked the driver, in my fractured French, "Quelle age est les chevres?" and he shrugged his shoulders, indicating he had no idea, and then repeated the gesture and said, "Peut-etre six mois?"

Who has a  pet and doesn't know how old the animal is? Personne, that's who.  All doubts vanished when the driver put the truck in gear,and as he let out the clutch kissed his fingertips with a big smack of the lips, and said to me with a grand smile "Chevre Colombo!"

Actually, it's a bit spicy for my taste, but ... .

A bientot!

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