Yet I have found treasure on North Caicos, "buried" in a long-neglected house. It's not pirate treasure, but it does capture the heart and imagination.
It's a cache of paintings on silk, more than 50 of them, in vibrant colors and depicting the island's flora and fauna and everyday life. They were given to me by my friend Addison Forbes, who rescued them from the otherwise empty Whitby house when he was called on to do work there.
Beyond admiring the pieces, I saw their existence as a mystery and set about to solve it.
I had a few leads, including some people's memories of an artist who had lived in the house and tried to establish a North Caicos Art Society, plus some names from the signed paintings. So I posted notices around the island asking for more information, hoping I could bring together the artists and their work.
I heard only from Gill Hopkins, a Canadian who has regularly stayed on North Caicos for more than 30 years and who remembered the painting project. She told me about the artist, Regina Thomas von Bohlen, who sought to tap into the creativity of the islanders. In addition to teaching the techniques of silk painting to island youth, she gathered poems, stories and recipes into a booklet called "North Caicos Soul."
Regina's North Caicos Art Society no longer exists. Regina left the island, and the children who made these paintings in 1996 are adults, many also living elsewhere. None of the artists contacted me.
Their youthful spirit and creativity, however, is still alive in these pieces of silk, begging to be shared. And so I am trying to find a way to let the North Caicos children of the past benefit the North Caicos children of today.
My first thought was to try to exhibit and sell these pieces, putting the profits toward a playground for the school in Bottle Creek. I'm working on that. But I'm also open to other suggestions.
Every time I look at these pieces of art, I am taken by the talent and creativity that Regina drew out of ordinary people. Now it's time for me to be creative about this buried treasure.