There is a simple solution that doesn’t require calling property management. “What we need is a stick,” said Tom.
Easier said than done in our city neighborhood. Oh, we have trees, but even in the parks or by the river the windfall sticks are flimsy things, unsuitable for holding up a 45x50 section of window. What we need is a substantial tree branch, a good piece of driftwood, or a leftover from a carpenter’s workshop.
Yep, we need a stick like we’d easily find on North Caicos.
We solved our problem by using a heavy milk-bottle-shaped ceramic vase that I mosaicked for Tom, but the whole thing got me thinking about how important the simple stick can be to island life.
First and foremost is the sliding door stick. This is what you throw down to make sure that even if someone breaks your door lock, they can’t get in without a lot more effort. Cut to size, the stick fits nicely into the slider track. There may be some unimaginative, retail-conditioned types who go online to get a device designed for this purpose, but most of the island folks I know figure out how to DIY for free. You want fancy? Paint it, or get an artist friend to do so. My downstairs door stick was painted with fish by LynnRae McLean; my upstairs one has trilliums and bougainvillea blossoms by Tom.
Ballpark measuring sticks are also useful. These are most often used to determine if a cistern has sufficient water, but there are other uses. Our first island vehicle, a purple CJ-5 Jeep named John after its previous owner, didn’t have a working gas gauge. The stick kept track of the fuel level.
Anyone with a yard needs a knocking-things-down stick, to get high fruit off a tree without dragging out the tall ladder. Ours was originally a long-handled tree trimmer. It broke, but the stick part is still useful.
And what is a conch pounder but a good, heavy stick? You won’t find many island homes without one.
Now that I got myself started, I’m thinking of so many uses I’ve had for sticks in my island home. I’ve used them as window valences (gussied up with shells or beads), islandy picture frames and, of course, for keeping certain tricky windows open. I even have some that are purely decorative, thanks to LynnRae’s stick-painting-for-fun-phase (see photo).
Actually, I’m forming a little island-living theory here. Want to know if those new people will stick? Count their sticks. The more, the merrier.