The Garden of Eden
04 March 2008 | Black Point Settlement
Beth - weather clear, sunny, perfect
We were feeling kind of sluggish - full stomachs, lack of exercise - so Jim and I decided to go for a late afternoon walk at Black Point Settlement. We hadn't gone down the road past Lorraine's before so that's where we headed. It was, appropriately enough, where the road swings around a corner that we met an older, bearded gentleman coming our way and the tenor of the afternoon changed.
That fellow was Willie Rolle - creator and keeper of "The Garden of Eden", and he asked us if we'd been to the garden yet. "No," we answered, "but we've heard about it. Which way is it?" Willie smiled and said, "I'll take you there." As we walked along, he told us about watching the clouds in the sky and keeping an eye on the shapes he sees. When he has noticed an image, he goes into the woods and looks for a replica of it. As he told us, he doesn't just pick up pieces of wood and imagine what they might be; he has the picture in his mind first and goes looking for the wood.
Willie's garden is something to behold, and it was our good fortune to be able to walk through it with him as our guide. Without his encouragement and hints, we would never have been able to "see" as much as we did. It helps to move into "right brain" mode - setting judgement aside and seeing whatever presents itself. What I think sets Willie apart from a gatherer of interesting wood pieces and puts him into the genre of artist, is his ability to see the shape in the abstract, his desire to cultivate that vision in others, and his willingness to leave open the possibility of other interpretations by other viewers. Most times, Jim and I said "Of course!" as he told us what the piece meant to him, and a few times we saw it before he gave us any clues. Sometimes, Willie would ask, "What do you see?" and sometimes he would say with a twinkle in his eye, "Maybe you haven't seen that animal yet!"
Besides the sculpture part of the garden, we were amazed to see dozens of plants and trees growing from every little pocket of soil in Willie's rocky plot of land. He had guava, papaya, tamarind, plantain, banana and mango trees, tomato, pumpkin, pepper, lettuce and squash plants. He walked us all around the yard, pointing out this tree and that; he plucked an almost ripe papaya for us (delicious) broke off a piece of tamarind for us to try. Willie accepts donations but puts no pressure on that side of things. He loves his garden; he loves to share it with people. He has been building it for 30 years, adding, removing, adjusting pieces, and when he started planting his edible garden, it was against advice from many folks. They said only a fool would start that - he'd never live to see it produce anything. When the same folks came back to ask how he did it, he told them a fool wouldn't be able to tell them, so he didn't!
Mike (Sapphire) told me he thought this might be my kind of thing, and sure enough, he was right!! How easily a simple walk can change into an excellent encounter with a fascinating man and his life's work. The whole experience - the garden and the man - really appealed to my belief that we all have really cool possibilities inside us. Perhaps it is not everyone's Garden of Eden, but it is Willie's, and Jim and I loved spending time in it.
This picture was taken by Sandy and Dana (Sol Purpose). Pretty, eh?