Friday, May 28, 2010

Bricks and Logs

Bricks & Logs

Started the day with another wonderful breakfast at Balenbouche. On the menu was homemade granola, fresh mango, papaya, and fresh baked rolls. During breakfast had an interesting conversation with Uta, the owner of Balenbouche. She talked about how our environment can affect us personally. She felt our surroundings influence our thoughts, self esteem, and quality of life.
We got our creative juices flowing at the Almond cottage. This morning, Daphne Stephen and Ulrica Nuptial were demonstrating the art of basketry and weaving. These ladies have been working in this craft since they were young girls. They both create baskets to provide income for their families and their products are sold in their personal shops. Basketry is an organic, time consuming, and for these ladies, solo process. While solo, Daphne mentioned she enjoys watching Judge Judy, which we all found funny. All the materials are picked straight from their properties from the Khuskhus Grass to the Screw Pine leaves. The materials must be processed before they can be used. Before the leaves can be used they must be dried, baked, bleached, and stripped of sharp edges.
Following the demonstration the ladies attempted to teach us to make a simple weave, ha-ha! Soo, after some excruciating time passes and frustration developed, some of us were lucky to actually create some type of pattern…however, these bloggers had no such success. While the attempts were being made Ulrica brewed up some Cocoa Tea for us all. She used all homegrown ingredients which span from cocoa powder to whole cinnamon bark. It was SO good! We jotted down the recipe and plan to give it a try when we return home. Professor Patricia Fay made an interesting comment, “Basketry is a complex spatial puzzle”.
We enjoyed a lunch on the veranda with the ladies then split into a bricks team and a logs team. The Bricks returned to Alicia’s to continue work on the kiln. We had to make a pit stop at the lumber yard to pick up some material that would be integral to creating the arch of the kiln. Some two by fours, a large piece of masonite, and some rectangular lengths of metal were thrown in the SUV, it was tight but we managed the winding St Lucian roads. We got to Alicia’s at the same time as the afternoon thunderstorm so we had to take some shelter. The afternoon rain gave us some time to devise our plan for the arch.
When the rain stopped we trekked on down to the kiln and began working with Alicia, Catty, Irene, and Auntie Mary on the kiln. Under Fay’s guidance, the form was made for the arch and after a couple of revisions with thought we had it. Now the brick laying began. Cutting bricks with a machete, smashing them with a hammer, mixing mortar out of sand and clay it was quite an endeavor. Placement of bricks was integral to creating the arch. Hmm, another “complex spatial puzzle”?
It was hot, it was humid but with all of us working together after about 5 and half hours of hard physical work, we had an arch! It was an awesome feeling! We had worked until dark ! Now it was time to celebrate with a cold drink and a bite of Catty’s boullion! A great way to end our day! But we’re not finished yet! We’ll be back in a couple of days to remove the arch form……

The Logs Team – the environmental students - sat down with Uta and Verena to discuss organization and details of the nature trail. We experienced the same rain shower that the Bricks did and took shelter under an umbrella hut until it became a light drizzle. Soaked, we hiked the planned trails and decided where benches were appropriate. Six locations were decided on, each of which had very different, very spectacular views. We divided into our bench making groups (Professor Win Everham, Eddie, and I) and GPS locators (Andrea, Mandy, and Andrew) to start tying everything together. After a couple hours of manual labor we had a rejuvenating break with tea and cake on the Balenbouche porch. Back to work we went where we finished up the majority of our tasks. Loggers placed the base of the benches in the locations of the trail stops, found precisely by the GPS locators. Stinky, soaking, and exhausted we jumped in the car in search of Raisinettes that have been in high demand here on the estate. Even though we were beat down mentally and physically, both the logs and the bricks felt very accomplished and satisfied with the day’s success.

-Ellen Boliek & Lara Collier