The Travels of Reverend Gordon

r ocean 2At least once a week, Caroline Sawyer (whose family owns Sundowners Bar and Restaurant) walks the shores of Green Turtle Cay, picking up trash.

Often, during these outings, she spots unusual items that have washed up onto the sand. Recently, however, she came across what she describes as her most interesting discovery by far.

Near Pelican Point on the ocean side of the cay, Caroline noticed a canister nestled between the rocks. Thinking it was empty, she retrieved it to toss it into her trash bag.

But something inside the container rattled. Caroline opened it and found some papers and a small vial. Without her glasses, however, she couldn’t be sure what the items were, so she tucked everything into her backpack and carried on with her walk.

Only later did Caroline realize what she’d found. Inside the canister was a letter, which read:

Dear World,

I say goodbye for a second time to my wonderful, caring and loving Mom, Rev. Miriam (Eileen) Gordon.

The enclosed program for a memorial service in Buff Bay, Portland, Jamaica in her honor speaks to her life. A similar memorial service was held in Peekskill, NY on December 11, 2013.

My mother traveled the world and wanted to see more of it. My wish is that these waters of the Caribbean Sea will take her ashes contained herein to new and wonderful places. I know that she will enjoy the journey.”

Along with the letter was a program from Reverend Gordon’s funeral, and of course, the vial containing her ashes.

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The contents of the canister
Photo: Caroline Sawyer

Caroline rang the enclosed phone number and spoke with Reverend Gordon’s daughter, Margo, who lives in Jamaica. Having set the canister afloat six months ago, on April 26, Margo was thrilled to learn how far it had traveled.

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Reverend Miriam (Eileen) Gordon

Her mother lived a full and interesting life, she said. Reverend Gordon was born in Jamaica, and later moved to New York. According to her online obituary, she worked with IBM for nearly twenty years, and prior to that, worked with the Mental Health Association of Westchester County. She was active in civil, social and religious organizations throughout her life.

Caroline, who says she’s honoured to be the one who found the canister, promised Margo to return her mother to the sea. She’s added a couple of Green Turtle Cay postcards to the container, along with a letter asking the next person who finds it to contact Margo and let her know where it was discovered.

Brian Sawyer, Caroline’s husband, plans to take the canister out to the ocean on his next fishing trip, so he can place it into the current and give the Reverend a head start on the next part of her journey. Happy travels, Reverend Gordon.

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Reverend Gordon’s funeral program.
Photo: Caroline Sawyer

Fish Hooks Restoration: The Front Yard

Once Fish Hooks had been moved backward onto its new foundation, we had a fantastic new front yard. The bad news? It was little more than a gaping hole filled with debris, broken concrete and centipedes — as unsafe as it was unattractive.

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A “before” shot of our new front yard

One important project during our last trip to the cay was to convert this pit into a safe and welcoming front yard. Knowing Fish Hooks is one of the first things visitors see when they step off the ferry, we want to be sure our house and garden are as attractive as possible.

As soon as the porch was complete, we got started on leveling out the yard. Since garden soil is virtually impossible to come by on the island, we ordered some fill and sand from Wade Cash of Sunset Marine and Construction. And, as is his style, Wade exceeded our expectations. Instead of the plain rocky fill we anticipated, he turned up with a truckload of dark, rich earth.

He happened to be excavating a project site that week and had some soil to spare.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, garden
Tom celebrates our good fortune

This dirt soon became the subject of much interest. At least a half-dozen of our neighbours stopped by to ask where they could get some.

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Charles Smith, our gardener, and his crew spread the newly delivered earth

With the rainy season due to begin any day, Tom and I realized that until we had a lawn to anchor it, we’d need to keep that precious dirt from washing away. Especially since several friends had jokingly promised to “liberate” any of it that ended up on the public roadway.

After a bit of thought, we knew just what to do.

When Fish Hooks had been moved a few months before, we’d set aside a couple dozen beautiful old stones. Some had been part of the house’s original foundation. Others were pieces of Ma May’s outdoor stone oven. At the time, we had no idea what to do with them — we just agreed they were too historic and beautiful to part with.

Now, we realized they’d make the perfect border across the front of the yard.

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The rock border in place

Originally, we’d planned for this stone border to be temporary — just until we installed a proper fence. However, we love it so much, we’re thinking of keeping it and working the fence and garden around the stones.

After the yard had been leveled out and the soil secured with this low retaining wall, it was time for grass. We chose Zoysia (it’s similar to Bermuda grass and is used a lot on golf courses), because of its resistance to salt, sun, drought and weeds, and for its fine, soft, carpet-like texture.

Charles planted small clumps of grass throughout the yard, promising that before long, it would spread and cover the dirt.

Sure enough, within a week or so, the rains started and the Zoysia began to take hold. The photo below was taken a week or so after it was first planted…

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, zoysia

… and the two pictures below were taken last week by our friends, Mandy Roberts and her son, Dillon. Tom and I are so happy with the yard to date — can’t wait to get back to the cay and begin planning out our garden!

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, zoysia, grass
bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, grass, garden, zoysia

Abaco Potcakes Need Your Help

bahamas, abaco, potcake, stray dog, dog rescue, spay, neuter, veterinarianIf you’ve spent time in Abaco, you’ve no doubt encountered stray dogs, known locally as potcakes. In the past, many of these creatures were left, emaciated, injured and/or diseased, to fend for themselves.

Today, however, non-profit organizations such as the Abaco Shelter (aka Pop’s Shelter) and Royal Potcake Rescue rescue Abaco’s strays, giving them food, shelter, medical care and love, and finding them forever homes.

To help control the local potcake (and potcat) population, Abaco’s animal rescue groups are co-sponsoring a series of spay and neuter clinics over the next few months.

Clinics are scheduled as follows:

  • Marsh Harbour — October 24-26 at the Island Veterinary Clinic
  • Sandy Point — November 8-9
  • Foxtown — December 6-7
  • Green Turtle Cay — December 13-14 (cats only)

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Photo: Royal Potcake Rescue

Approximately 200 animals were sterilized at a similar clinic this past April, and organizers are hoping for comparable results at the upcoming events.

However, the success of clinics like these depends in large part on contributions from folks like you and me.

To donate online, visit the Abaco Shelter website or Royal Potcake Rescue Donations Page. (Royal Potcake Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organization, meaning U.S. donations to this organization are tax-deductible.)

Donations can also be made in person at the Abaco Shelter (please make checks to Pop’s Shelter.)

In addition to financial support, clinic organizers are seeking donations of the following items:

  • # 10 scalpel blades
  • 3×3 or 4×4 cotton gauze pads
  • Alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Bottled water
  • Canned dog food
  • Coloured duct tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Disposable gloves
  • Flea and tick spray
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags
  • Garbage bags
  • IV catheters – cats 24g x 3/4″, dogs 29g x 1 1/4″
  • Kennels – all sizes
  • Markers
  • Paper towels
  • Pens
  • Povidone-iodine
  • Q-tips
  • Scrub brushes
  • Sheets and towels
  • Slip leashes
  • Surgical drapes (disposable or cloth)
  • Syringes & needles – 1cc majority, 3cc, & 20 or 10cc
  • Tarps
  • Thermometers
  • Tweezers
  • Vet wrap

If you can contribute any of these items or if you’d like more information about the clinics, contact the Abaco Shelter at (242) 367-0737 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or the Island Veterinary Clinic at (242) 577-0397, Monday through Friday.

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Post-op recovery area at the April 2014 spay and neuter clinic

 Free Vaccine Clinicdog 9

In conjunction with the Marsh Harbour spay/neuter event this weekend, Island Veterinary Clinic is offering a FREE Vaccine Clinic on October 25, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Two hundred units of vaccine  will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dogs must be older than six weeks and should NOT have been vaccinated this year. All dogs must have a (free) check-up before vaccination.

For more details, contact the Island Veterinary Clinic Monday through Friday at  (242) 577-0397.

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