Over The Hill And Through The Woods To Grandmother’s House We Go

Miss Lillian's Grandmother's House, St. John's, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Miss Lillian’s Grandmother’s House, St. John’s, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

All In The Family

I met Miss Lillian on one of my many daily blogpost trips to Scout’s Place (most reliable free WiFi of any bar/restaurant on the island). Around Christmas, she was putting up lights on the tree, and I noticed the angel was backwards and not quite on the top branch. In my largesse, I offered to help her straighten the angel out, and promptly snapped that little bugger’s light off. So I promised to buy a replacement angel…which I did, but too late for this Christmas.

Miss Lillian
Miss Lillian

Miss Lillian is kind of a staple around the island, a big hearted woman with a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh whose primary job is licensed nurse at the local hospital and part time job is Scout’s Place hostess/bartender. Her family goes back generations in St. John’s. I’d wandered past this aging house many times on the way to The Bottom, always curious about it, but I finally snapped some pictures of it on my way to Thais Hill the other day, unable to resist the browning wood shingles, the sides overgrown with clover and flowers that have spawned all through the yard. Look closely in the lower right corner, and you can see pooled water at the top of the steps with tiny fishes darting around in it…how they got there I have no idea, but life always finds a way. In any case, I showed Lillian this picture, as this house is just above where she currently lives in St John’s, sheltered away from the direct weather exposure of St John’s flat. She took a while to recognize it, then said, “Ah, that’s my grandmother’s house.” Turns out after her grandmother passed, the place had bounced around the family; her great uncle was the last to live in it before he passed as well, and to the best of Lillian’s recollection, no one’s occupied the house for the better part of two decades, though it looks like it could’ve even been longer. But then again, Saban weather and tropical moisture ages unoccupied houses quickly. Lillian’s family would like to rebuild it because the location is so good (right next to The Road), but it’s a significant financial effort for the family. I’m posting this picture as a duotych to illustrate the two sides of the coin I see when I look at this place; without being too melodramatic about it, the black and white is sort of a ghostly image with a lot of inferred history, while the vibrant color photo reminds me of how life continues on here in spectacular fashion. Lillian pointed out that the kitchen and stove–no longer visible here, as its overgrown–was separate from the main house.

If you remember or know Miss Lillian from Saba, be sure and comment on this post so I can tell her it was worth posing for the picture. She was a tad reluctant šŸ˜‰

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