MY ISLAND

When I was a young girl this island was a wonderful place to live. I can remember how lush the gardens were, how vivid the wonderful flowers. Each season passed by astonishing in their richness and complexity. My father owned the hotel and bar and my uncles farmed the fertile soil that surrounded our small town. In the Spring the scent of cherry and apple blossom filled the air and gentle breezes brought drifts of pink and white to garnish our hair. With Summer came large green melons and sweet scarlet tomatoes. Fall was redolent with fresh oranges, cherries and ripe apples. With Winter came deep, crisp snow and delicate Snowflake flowers. Our tiny island seemed to throb with life.

We were the centre of a bustling trade route. People came to our island to trade, travelling in wonderful sailing vessels that seemed to skim across the vivid blue seas. We traded crops and animals for exotic spices and cool wines. Up in the mountains men dug jewels and precious gems from deep inside our hills. Everything we touched seemed to only make us happier. I thought it would never end.

We didn't know, or could it be that we had simply forgotten, that the prosperity of our island came from it's protector, our island Goddess. There was a dim memory of tales of a deity that existed in the centre of our island. A mammoth tree grew from the centre of our land anchoring us to the very life around us but we didn't seem to notice.

Year on year we passed it by until it became just one more item of curiosity and finally just there. We became so complacent that we forgot and the tree began to die. No-one made that long climb to to mountain any more to clear away the weeds and remember.

It happened so gradually it was some time before we noticed the changes. The weather started to become less predictable. Storms blew up from nowhere and laid waste to crops and homes. With the changing weather came a change in our fortunes. Farms struggled and failed. One by one my Uncles left our island and took their families with them. I cried as my childhood friends disappeared from my life.

One night at the height of the worst storm of the year there was terrible sound ,it was as if the very heart of the island were being ripped apart. We cowered in our beds too terrified to move. I clung to my new young husband and prayed that we would both live to see the morrow. When the dawn finally came we crept from our homes to survey the damage. Not one home was left undamaged. In the harbour the pier had gone as had the fishing boats moored there; smashed to so much matchwood. Two families who lived down by the coast were no more and the sound of sorrow could be heard all around. We gathered in what remained of the village square to assess what to do. My Charles led a search party into the mountains to attempt any rescue we could offer. They came back with the bodies of the miners and the news that the massive tree had gone. Its shattered stump was all that remained of the once mammoth tree.

Since that day life has been hard here. The crops are slow to grow and no-one comes to trade. Our lives are a mere shadow of what they once were. I too have suffered such loss. My Charles was taken one stormy Winter and my son and I stayed to try to make a go of our Inn. Hamilton and I have spent hours looking through old papers, stories, legends even child's tales to try and work out what went wrong.

Now we know, through our own greed we lost so much. The goddess doesn't smile on us any more and our lives our poorer for it. There must be some way we can turn her love towards us once more. Some of our children have dreamt of her but to no avail. Now we can only live in hope that a saviour my come. Hamilton has a plan. I don't hold out much hope but we can't just do nothing. Tomorrow a ship is due, the first for many long months. Maybe this ship will bring us someone who can restore that paradise we lost.