Sometimes you try to keep things a secret but the Universe has other plans. Over the past few months, while working on a novel set in my birthplace of Jamaica and weaving in some ancestry stories, I created a character out of my imagination. This character was a woman who loved birds and had a room full of birds. She lived in the 1860’s in my ancestors town of Falmouth Jamaica. I wanted a character with a name that could not be traced back to anyone that I knew because I am writing fiction here. There are some small elements of truth in it based on my experiences and there are small elements of truth in the ancestral stories but all names are fictional, or so I thought. I named my bird lady of the 1860’s Mrs. Angela Sutton. I chose the name Sutton because I know no one named Sutton in Jamaica. This character got woven into the story as an ancestor to the main character.
And now I’m getting towards the end of my first draft and I’m doing research on Jamaican birds. I am looking up a bird they call locally the Mountain Witch, endemic only to Jamaica, this bird lives in the Blue Mountains and it’s proper name is the crested quail dove, a beautiful shy dove with iridescent purplish coloring. And this bird research takes me deeper into Jamaican Birds and now I’m looking at birding expeditions to Jamaica. I’d like to do one of those I think. And I reach a website describing a birding tour and the guide writes, “and then we’ll leave Marshall’s Pen and say goodbye to Mrs. Sutton.”
And I go what? Who is this Mrs. Sutton at Marshall’s Pen? I have heard of Marshall’s Pen – it is a prime birding destination for people on bird tours in Jamaica. It is situated not far from some of my ancestors home in a place called Mandeville in the center of the island. I look it up to find that Marshall’s Pen is owned by Mrs. Ann Sutton, conservation biologist, one of the premier birding experts not just in Jamaica but in the whole Caribbean.
What are the chances of me creating this 1860’s fictional bird woman character with the name of Mrs. Angela Sutton and then finding out that Mrs. Ann Sutton is the bird expert of Jamaica?
One thing I know for sure, there are no secrets. The collective unconscious is a real thing. I got the proof. Carl Jung had it right. There is a collective unconscious. There I was doing my best to use fictional names… the universe laughs at me.
I have needed to process this revelation, this secret that the internet coughed up for me yesterday. I don’t know what it means.
Maybe I need to go and pay Mrs. Sutton a visit. I watched a video of her on Youtube. She says she has writers come and stay at her property to visit on retreat. She has all the endemic birds there on her 19th century great house property. She can probably introduce me to the Mountain Witch. © Kathy Stanley
Links: Marshall’s Pen and Mrs. Ann Sutton
Watch: Video of Mrs. Sutton talking about Marshall’s Pen
Watch: Fantastic video from Birding Adventures of their time birding the endemics of Jamaica and their search for the elusive Crested Quail Dove.
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