Scribe's Journal

Birds, Bob and St. Bess

There are periods when mi jus’ mentally frass, i.e. well tired, exhausted.

During those periods, I do whatever it takes to relax my mind. Like watch birds posing off on the clothesline on a sunny, Sunday afternoon or the neighbour’s cat tiptoeing through our backyard, foraging for bug snacks or perhaps trying to provoke the dog. Who knows why he keeps scaling the wall.

But there are times I just listen to Bob, pure Bob and nothing but Bob. For days and days.

Who’s Bob?

Bob who?

Yuh really asking mi dat?

There’s nothing like a Bob Marley song to soothe a tired soul. I’m talking about the kind of tiredness that stems from strange editors thinking they have the God-given right to kill your spirit after you’ve been labouring for years to hone your craft.

Awright. It was only one editor. A local one. Her feedback was so off base it made me wonder if she actually read my submission.

Don’t get me wrong. I value feedback, constructive feedback, the type that lets me know if my stories are understood, appealing, realistic and touching in any way. If they’re not, then I know I have more work to do.

Thankfully, positive and constructive responses from readers, over the past months, buffered me against the effects of this editor’s tripe of an email (sent at minutes to midnight on a Sunday because clearly it couldn’t wait until Monday during business hours).

By the way, when Jamaican people say yuh talking tripe, it means you’re talking foolishness.

There are folks in foreign who think living on this island is “irie” and “no problem, mon”. I can’t blame them. When they watch our tourist-board ads or visit the tourist areas, that’s the stuff they’re fed.

But, there’s always trouble in paradise. Everyday. Just read our newspapers and listen to our news.

Whenever I get weary from paradise troubles, I apply multiple doses of music to my ears. And, many times, it’s being sung by Bob.

There’s something about “rebel” lyrics and a wicked bass that placates the soul and revs up one’s determination to trod on and drum past the -isms and schisms which make it extra challenging for many in this island to succeed.

Thank God, we’ve been blessed with a powerful music genre to help ease di tension.

And thank God, we live on an island that’s still beautiful. Because, on this beautiful island, a drive out to the country can do wonders to re-energize a flagging soul.

Okay. So some of you are saying, “But Angie, yuh live a country already!”

Mi know!

But I’m talking country-country. You know, country outside of . . .  my country.

If you’ve been reading the blog, you would’ve picked up that I have roots in the south. St. Elizabeth, a.k.a. St. Bess, that is. And, whenever possible, I return to St. Bess for a quick visit. I did that earlier this month.

We drove through Brown’s Town, St. Ann. And the St. Ann part, I’m sure, took up at least a half of the three hours it took to reach our destination.

There are serious, winding roads on this route, my people, but some nice views: big, country houses; farmland; hills and valleys; cows; nuff goats; and free-like-a-bird-to-roam-the-streets-day-or-night, mongrel dogs. It was lovely.

Snapshot 1 (8-26-2016 6-32 AM) Spur Tree
Bus-window view of Spur Tree Hill road.

This is the part of Jamaica where if you’re zooming by, the people on the roadside stop and stare. And, if you’re lucky, they might give you a big wave.

This is where you may also experience wide variations in temperature along the way: from early-morning heat in St. Ann’s Bay to crisp, cool air in Spalding, Manchester; from cooling rain in Lititz (try saying that three times, fast, fast, fast) to midday mist in Top Hill, St. Elizabeth.

Of course, at midday, if hungry tek yuh in St. Bess, you’re in the right parish to get sumptuous fare. St. Bess has the best cooks and sweetest tasting food in JA, hands down, argument done.

Down to the vegetables in St. Bess taste scrumptious. And I don’t particularly like vegetables.

We stopped at a little restaurant in Southfield that we’d stopped at during our last visit. Couldn’t tell you the name. But I can tell you, it’s across from a gas station and beside a Western Union.

We bought barbecue chicken, fried chicken and stewed beef served with rice and peas, pasta salad and raw, shredded carrots and cabbage. People, as my St. Bess grandma would say, di food eat good! And the bill didn’t send us into cardiac arrest. Five of us adults ate generous servings of food for less than US$25 (total!).

Beef stew4
Leftover stew beef from the previous day’s nyammings.

After a few hours with family, discussing the food and family, we filed back into our bus, about late afternoon. Our driver, being the consummate St. Ann touristy guide, pressed play on a Bob Marley CD as we eased on down the road.

Have you ever listened to Bob Marley while driving through the Jamaican countryside and gazing at the scenery through a bus window on your way back home at the end of a long day?

Never gets old.

I’m not sure if the feel would be the same if we were playing another reggae artiste. Probably not.

I’m not even sure if the feel would be the same on a country road in foreign. I’ve never had occasion to try it.

My foreign friends, have you tried it in your home-country? If not, I’m giving you homework.

Next time you’re travelling through the countryside and gazing at the scenery through a bus window on your way back home at the end of a long day, please pop in a Bob Marley CD (or whatever they call it these days). Make sure you have the music set up beforehand, please. Then drop me a line to tell me how it feels.

How should the vibe feel?

It should feel . . . mellow.


Peace and love,


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