On the rocky, northerly cliffs of Aruba grows thousands of cacti. In one particular spot – a small patch –grows one or two samples of every species of cactus (Cactaceae), now indigenous to the island.
The relatively isolated patch is protected. By the “natives” themselves.
Traditional artists set their easels nearby. They sketch and paint views of the ocean, wildlife, and plants. A growing number of artists are returning to the craft of making their own paints and dyes. With special permission, a small group of them extract the pigment colors from the plants located around that tiny patch of cacti. Never within the patch.
Native–native artists use that small patch of cacti as a reference or guide to the species that are available for tapping on the island, for those pigments. Artists, crafters, writers, photographers, naturalists, etc. use it also for inspiration and subject material.
Hoteliers, developers and wealthy individuals with super deep pockets have tried, for many decades, to get hold of that entire “neighborhood.” But protected lands are protected lands. Particularly, on islands where land is so limited.
Some investors have joined preservationists to limit how much plant life – cacti – can be tapped, or harvested, for dye pigmentation. Similar steps have been taken in every state of the United States – out of dire necessity.
Some local governments, such as in Central Florida, have turned the “cause” of land preservation into a major arm of their “job description.” Committing large caches of taxpayer dollars to the purchase, protection and preservation of large parcels of land. Some of these land parcels are still a part of old family ranches.
In the “islands” – all of them, that’s been an on-going battle for centuries. Families, whose lineages can be traced to the earliest of inhabitants, fight to hold onto their roots. Literally!
That’s the case with that small patch of cacti, and its “neighborhood,” atop that northerly cliff of Aruba. That’s the case with the members of the family that own and cling to that parcel, as though their lives depend on it.
On January 31st of this year, I met a member of that Aruba family. She was participating in the Authors’ Symposium, held at the Veteran’s Memorial Library, in St. Cloud, Florida. The author splits her writing time between South Florida and Aruba. She subsidizes her writing income, by freelancing as a photographer in global hospitality marketing.
The covers on her last two novels feature background illustrations of cacti from her family land in Aruba. The sub-plot in both of those novels touches upon the battle to preserve the precious patches of cacti on Aruba.
Toward that end, one hundred percent of the sales from those two novels, and related activities, goes to help pay legal costs to fight for her family’s land. Their roots. Their cacti!
Protecting and preserving our lands are important tasks. And, everyone can help.
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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”