As I was growing up, my father was in the weather service in the United States Air Force. We were lucky enough to live all over the United States, and sometimes beyond. In the early 1960’s, from the time I was a toddler through first grade, Dad was stationed at Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda. Fortunately for us, he was allowed to bring his family for his four-year tour of duty. It was quite a change from our previous home at Rantoul AFB in rural Illinois. Living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean meant that all household goods and everyday supplies had to be delivered by ship or by plane. Most of our belongings were put in storage back in the States, and only a minimal amount was shipped to our new home in Bermuda.
Bermuda is not just a single island but rather a series of smaller islands strung together with bridges and causeways. So almost any errand involved traveling along the shore, around a harbor, or across an inlet. I have vivid memories of riding in the school bus across a long bridge each day, entertaining myself by counting the colorful fish in the crystal clear water. All future school bus routes paled in comparison! Our house in Smith’s Parish was a classic Bermuda pastel pink stucco house with a crisp white roof. It was perched on the side of Knapton Hill overlooking the South Shore and its world-famous beach resorts. From our front porch we could watch the ever-changing sky over the Atlantic and see whales breaching and spouting off the coast.
Being a British territory, Bermuda was a new cultural experience for us. There were always Bobbies patrolling the streets of Hamilton. There were British-style phone booths and British pubs. Businessmen went to work in Bermuda shorts and knee-high stockings. Tourists came from Britain and Europe as well as the U.S. My mom and dad planted so many beautiful flowers in our front bed that Bermuda cabbies would stop in front of our house so their tourists could admire our garden. Because of the warm climate, many plants could grow outdoors that we had previously only experienced as indoor plants. Poinsettias, for instance, grew outdoors year-round and reached astonishing proportions.
One thing did NOT grow in Bermuda, however – Christmas trees! So every year a ship would come from the mainland with a fragrant load of firs and pines for all the residents of island. We couldn’t put up our Christmas tree and decorate it until the ship had docked. One year, the ship was late, and the trees did not arrive until Christmas Day had come and gone. No one had a tree that year! Our house had a fireplace for warmth during chilly days (no heating system). We burned driftwood collected on the beach, because there were no “firewood trees” in Bermuda, either! The salt-laden driftwood burned with pretty colors and created a festive holiday atmosphere for our Christmas celebrations.
Living in Bermuda was the best gift of all.
Content from Panstoria: Cottage Arts This Is Life 7 Scrap Words and Everyday 8 Paper, Kaisercraft Turtle Dove, CM Boots and Braids
Featuring Casually Denim from Jennifer Fehr
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