The Not-so-Secret (But Undoubtedly Magical) Garden

November 22, 2022

Blake Lyons, SUNY ESF

The Cramer docked in Christiansted, sent by Heather in the groupchat and teasingly titled “She’s waiting for ya!”
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The Cramer docked in Christiansted, sent by Heather in the groupchat and teasingly titled “She’s waiting for ya!”

Evan and Ben chillin’ with the turts!
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Evan and Ben chillin’ with the turts!

Today was as lovely and relaxing a day as anyone could hope for and we greeted the morning as any sane person would, with a visit to the St. George Village Botanical Gardens! The gardens contain over 1,000 varieties of plants and sprinkled throughout are the remnants of an 18th and 19th century sugar cane plantation. Our paths through the gardens were varied, some choosing to take the route laid out by the garden map- featuring accompanying descriptions of garden subsections and landmarks. While others chose to wind their own way through the living history of the island. Regardless of the path chosen, the grounds offered a steady outpouring of knowledge- both sensory through vegetation, and intellectual through posted signs and small museums. It was wonderful to walk through history when so often our learning is relegated to the pages of a book.

Ethereal Anna in the Biomedical Garden

Ethereal Anna in the Biomedical Garden

The gardens also offered a tie to the land and local people that our marine studies and endeavors don’t always have the time to encompass. Several of our guest speakers have emphasized the importance of remembering that the land and ocean are not separate from one another, but old friends, and that the ecosystem processes and anthropogenic influences on the islands will bleed into the waters- ridge to reef. This opportunity to step from the rolling waves and ground ourselves in the land and the people was invaluable. Many thanks to Ben, our phenomenal history Professor and all around great human, for taking us to such a wondrous place!

We spent hours at the gardens before piling in the van and returning to the Feather Leaf Inn for a lovingly prepared lunch!

The afternoon was free and people were left to choose their own adventure. A small group of snorkelers set off for a return expedition at the pier and a romp around Frederiksted. They of course spent more quality time with the turtles! Others jumped at one of our last chances to stretch our legs before boarding the Cramer and set off on a run that landed at the sand for a little beach bumming! A few stayed at the Inn for some total relaxation or productive personal time.

Meanwhile, Heather and Isa ventured out to the Cramer to drop off supplies and send us teaser photos of our lovely ship! They also valiantly went to the grocery store and gathered all of the items we had personally requested. Thank you endlessly! You are our heroes!

We all found each other again around the dinner table and swapped stories of our afternoons. The party continued with a screening of "Everything, Everywhere, All At Once" and couches were corralled as everyone settled in for our first, and likely last, movie night on the island.

Love from St. Croix to all our friends and family! Especially to Grant, happy birthday you crazy kid!

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