Miss Lassie’s home gets a Christmas cleaning

| 17/12/2015
Cayman News Service

Intern Kathleen Helvester rakes Miss Lassie’s yard with a rosemary broom

(CNS): The Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) carried out traditional Christmas preparations last week by cleaning up the yard of Miss Lassie’s 130-year-old wattle-and-daub home in South Sound. Known as “Mind’s Eye -The Visionary World of Gladwyn K. (Miss Lassie) Bush”, the home of the iconic artist is a Heritage Watch site.

The “Christmas of Yesteryear” event is not only held to spruce up the yard of the home, but is also a tangible way to carry on an important Caymanian custom.

Done shortly before Christmas, the tradition served to prepare homes for the return of seamen who would have been at sea for months or even years. It was also a way to demonstrate pride in one’s home and community.

“Of course, we will need to pull bush in some areas, and tend to any areas of the garden that need our attention,” said Lorna Bush, CNCF Heritage Programmes Specialist.

“This event gives us a chance to embrace Caymanian Christmas traditions and work together as any family would have done, to present our home – in this case, ‘Mind’s Eye’ – in a beautiful way for all to see and enjoy,” she added.

In years gone by, minor repairs were carried out on houses, which were usually repainted with a limestone wash and the walkways lined with fresh, new conch shells. The inside of the house was swept and dusted, readying it for the season.

“We will actually be preparing the mixture on site, mixing up the white lime and scrotchineal or cochineal (a type of cactus used to prevent yellowing) concoction, which will then be used to paint the outside of the home,” Bush said.

At last week’s event, CNCF staff, along with a handful of volunteers, “backed sand” – which is the removal of clean white sand from the beach – to spread around the yard in front of the home; this was done using large silver thatch baskets as containers which rest on the person’s back, hence the term “backing sand”. The sand in years gone by was sifted on site, placed in little piles all around the yard and then spread with homemade rosemary brooms and rakes.

Christmas lights will also be put up with the hopes of drawing attention to the home both in celebration of the season and the heritage site itself.

The CNCF spearheaded the movement to restore Miss Lassie’s house with the aim of preserving it as a national treasure; the home was opened to the public as a cultural heritage site in 2012.

For more information on Mind’s Eye or to book a tour or school field trip, email CNCF or call 949-5477

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Category: Culture

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