At the beginning of this month I was contemplating what it felt like to be “at home” in a new place. I questioned and discussed this with many people. The response that made the most sense to me was “to be at home is to be connected”. After this month of exploring new territory, I tend to agree with this statement. Whether it’s feeling connected to the land, the water, the culture, or the people who I am surrounded by, feeling at home really does come down to the connections that I make in my immediate environment.
In these past four weeks, I, along with my housemates here, have gone through a lot of changes leaving old patterns behind and creating new ones. (in eating, sleeping, and communicating). I am becoming aware of my own reactions while also watching and observing my good friend Jim gradually build the foundation for his new physical home. Pulling up roots from one place can feel like a shock to the system, but I am learning that if I am able to branch out in new ways I will quickly regain nutrients and energy from the fertile soil around me. Studying my natural environment here on the island has helped me feel more connected. This time has offered me valuable lessons including, taking the time to nurture new seeds and making sure not to rush the growing process.
Like coral branching out we all are testing our flexibility stretching our limits and reaching for new connections. As a part of my “field guide” creation this month, I was asked to connect with and collect knowledge from locals on the island through interviews. I have been lucky enough to find the most helpful and kind individuals who have gone out of their way to help me feel at home and feel informed about the foreign terrain and culture. I am grateful for their initial guidance in my first wanderings here. My interviews with them have been informal yet informative. Through our conversations, I am learning by absorbing what it is they love and want to share from their island living perspective, leaving the role of the interviewer behind and taking on the role of the listener, observer and new friend.
My first real connection was Trisa. New friend and “on island” confidant Trisa immediately connected me to good people, good eats and great ways to access the water through a paddle board lesson and snorkel excursion. She also connected me to near by neighbors of mine Theresa and Aaron who are also working on a house remodel project. Theresa writes her own blog offering all kinds of tips for a field guide to island living.
Ty and Adrian of Bush Tribe Eco Adventures are two other fantastic connections. Through Bush Tribe, I made my first explorations hiking and exploring. Ty also manages an amazing place called Discovery Grove where I learned much about the history, plants, and native fruits and herbs on island. Through Ty I was also able to make connections with friendly visitors to the island who then introduced me to Captain Dee. Dee takes visitors sailing and snorkeling. Our excursion brought us to a near by tiny island for some of the best snorkeling I had ever experienced. Ty also introduced me to Dale who runs the fantastic local Sejah farm.
I really have had such little time here, not enough to fully engage in the history or culture of the island yet, but I am seeing each new connection as a seed that has potential to branch out into a whole new garden of possibilities. My “field guide” for St. Croix has barely begun at the end of this month but I am looking forward to taking my time cultivating the exploration and watching it grow.