The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography. #fpj-photo-challenge

This week's challenge was challenging for me. I was looking up the definition of nostalgia.

a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I was born and raised in the former British West Indies. The culture, food, buildings and beaches are not duplicated in anything that can be found in New Jersey. Or anywhere else on the East Coast. Or the United States. I spent my youth living in St. Vincent, Bequia, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua.

The family home and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea are thousands of miles away. I spent my early years living upstairs in the old Barclays Bank in Princeton Margaret beach in Bequia. The entrance to the building was about 200 meters from the beach. This is where I spent a lot of time with my brothers and friends. We played beach cricket with tennis balls and bats improvised from the dead branches of coconut trees. Sometimes we played intense games of marbles "for keeps". I don't remember the rules of marble games, but I know the games were hotly contested. Sometimes we just ran up and down the beach as fast as possible. I was always the fastest.


Sometimes my Mom would take us to visit our grandparents at their home on Monkey Hill. I loved helping my grandmother gather eggs from the chickens. Less enjoyable was moving the goats from one pasture to another. Goats can be difficult. If I was lucky, Mama1 would take me with her to pick sapodilla and sugar apples and we would climb all the way to the very top of Monkey Hill. There was always a good breeze, and I could see everything down to the coast below.

Grandmother, Me, Mom | Thursday 6 August 1998

Those were good times.

I have no access to any of that, and in the thirty-two years I have lived in the United States, I can’t think of anything I have experienced in the USA that evokes those memories. The Jersey Shore beach water is brown. The ocean air does not smell the same. The food is American. It doesn’t feel the same.

I don't have old photos to share. My parents either didn't own a camera at that time, or my mom has them in some precious album of her own. My mom lives in Florida, but right now is on holiday in St. Vincent.

I drove over to a shop in Hopewell, Twine, looking for inspiration. Twine sells various items; wooden boxes, old painted stools, flashcards, pencils, scrabble tiles, labels, books, etc. My daughter came with me. The only thing that seemed nostalgically familiar was the stack of marbles. I bought a handful.

Next door was an antique store, Tomato Factory. I saw a few things — vintage oil lanterns — that reminded me of my early life in the British West Indies, but ultimately there was nothing that I could take home. Photography in the store was not allowed.

This marbles photo does not include boys in khaki pants, beach sand or sunsets.

I was saddened while I was writing this. All this thinking about my past had made me acutely nostalgic. I realise how much I have lost.

The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers to share both new and old photography. This week's theme is nostalgia.

  1. All the grandchildren called her “mama”. ?

July 10th, 2011 - Bush tea

When I was a kid, my grandmother, I think the grandkids called her mama as shorthand for the French grand-mama, used to make me a herbal remedy when I was sick or couldn’t sleep. “Bush tea” as my mama called it was made by boiling the leaves of a plant that grew wild on Bequia, the island paradise where she lived. I later found out that the plant is the bay laurel.

I ordered a couple of specimens over the Internet from Richter’s in Ontario. I’m hoping that I can grow these plants enough to harvest the leaves and make my own “bush tea”. I miss my mama.

Uncle Athneal

Athneal Ollivierre, my granduncle and a significant figure from Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was celebrated for his deep expertise in whaling. This tradition was a part of Bequia's economic fabric and a cornerstone of its cultural heritage. Born in 1908, Uncle Athneal grew up when whaling was integral to the islanders' way of life, a tradition deeply rooted in their daily existence.

Bequia whaling was notably different from the large-scale commercial practices seen elsewhere. It was a community-oriented activity conducted on a much smaller scale. The methods employed were steeped in tradition, often involving the skilled use of hand-thrown harpoons, a craft meticulously passed down through generations, including within our family. This approach to whaling was inherently sustainable and carefully regulated to prevent overhunting and ensure whale populations' preservation.

Uncle Athneal's role in this tradition went beyond his prowess as a whaler. He was revered for his profound understanding of the sea and marine life, symbolising the islanders' deep connection with their maritime environment. His life and career epitomised a relationship with the sea founded on coexistence and a deep-seated respect for nature rather than mere exploitation.

In the heavily accented, lyrical poetry that passes for common speech among Bequians, Mr Ollivierre will tell you, “ The day I harpooned my first whale, there was such joy in my heart, I couldn’t speak. It turned my mind. You must choose what will please your life. You must have plenty of courage and be fast thinking.” The Spells of a Bright Bequia Morning, New York Times

Upon retiring, Uncle Athneal didn't just step back from whaling; he embraced the role of a cultural ambassador. He passionately shared his rich experiences and knowledge with younger generations and visitors, ensuring that the stories and traditions of Bequia's whaling heritage lived on. His legacy is more than a memory; it's an enduring part of Bequia's cultural identity, reflecting a profound respect for nature and sustainable practices.

While whaling in Bequia has often been a topic of debate, especially among environmental groups, it's essential to understand its context. For the islanders, figures like Athneal Ollivierre aren't just historical footnotes; they're emblematic of a cultural identity that champions a more harmonious and respectful interaction with the natural world, starkly contrasting industrial whaling practices.

In 1996, the Ollivierre family ended their participation in whaling.