Monday, February 28, 2011


Black Point, Exumas 24º6.04N | 76º24.12W

In my imagination, the Garden of Eden is a mythical, magical, mystical place where the fertile ground erupts with bounty to feed the body, greenery to nurture the eyes, dappled shade from overhead, velvety green grass underfoot, everything needed to survive and thrive.

In Black Point, a faded, handpainted sign along the road says 'Garden of Eden,' pointing the way to an even more bedraggled entrance, an entrance to what at first appeared to me to be a bunch of dead sticks.

Garden of Eden entrance.
Then I met the gardener, Willie Rolle, a local celebrity of sorts, well covered in the cruising blogosphere.

"How did you start collecting these 'sculptures'?" I asked.

"Oh, I got the idea from the clouds," he replied in his thick Bahamian brogue, explaining how we all look at clouds and see fanciful things, an elephant to me might be a motorcycle to you.

Willie took us on an enchanted tour of his sculpture garden -- all driftwood found on his own property -- enchanted, because a tall arcing stick under a wave of Willie's hand would reveal itself as a graceful ballerina.

A roaring lion, a playful puppy, a beautiful lady washing her hair. In a rock on the ground, he conjures George Washington, and in the moment Willie's spreading his magic dust, I see ol' George too. And every time one of us sees what Willie sees? He giggles with utter delight.

But now, without Willie by my side, the magic gone, I look back at my photos and see, not lions or ladies, but a bunch of driftwood stuck in stone, black and white and barren.

Willie, what IS it?
Gardener? Sculptor? Artist? Wizard? Madman? I guess that just depends on whose eyes you're looking through.

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