The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barthelemy film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  July 2001
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  SEASON'S GREETINGS
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  Basically there are no seasons in Saint-Barth. Not the kind of seasons we had back home in Pennsylvania anyway, where words like winter, summer, spring, and fall trip lightly off the tongue and phrases like "White Christmas" and "April Showers" actually relate to seasonal phenomena.
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   Here, the hot season perspires its way from month to month and it's not really clear when the rainy season is, if there is one. Instead, the island has invented seasons of its own, generally referred to as "high" season and "low" season, or "in-season" and "out-of-season." High season means that hotel rates and rental car prices are higher,while low season means a lower number of restaurants are open. Actually high season is the winter months when there the number of tourists on the island climbs to its highest peak, and summer is the low season, as the tourists are lying low. Or lying on the beach someplace else, crowded together like sardines in East Hampton, for example, while the beaches here could accommodate entire schools of whales.
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   The only weather-related season here is hurricane season, which can mean anytime from early summer to late fall, when everybody anxiously watches the tropical waves that form off of the coast of Africa, hoping they don't develop into waves of destruction. Summer is also the local holiday season, then the islanders celebrate something or other at least once a week. This season effectively starts on Bastille Day, or July 14, and runs through the end of August, with as many work-free days sandwiched in as possible. These include patron saint days, including St Louis and St Barthelemy, as well as Swedish friendship day and a celebration in honor of the town of Gustavia. You can usually tell you just missed one of these celebrations when fireworks start going off in the evening.
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   The low season is also a popular time for sporting events, with tournaments in everything from deep sea fishing to volleyball. This year in the annual fishing event, the goal is to reel in a marlin weighing over 669 pounds in order to break the record set last year. But with the new "tag and release" rules, we will no longer see these giant creatures of the sea brought back to land. In theory, they are weighed aboard the fishing boats and released back into the sea, to help preserve the species. But it seems as if this information has not been communicated to the fleet of fishermen operating out of Saint-Martin who bring in every kind of fish that can be found. Nobody really knows the fate of the released marlin, but I'll bet they are happy when the fishing season is over and they can hang a "closed" sign on Marlin Boulevard.
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   But the best thing about not having any real seasons is that it's perpetually summer, and that's why a lot of us are here in the first place. It's summertime, and the living is easy...

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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