On a trip to Laborie in February, the STAR stumbled upon a quaint wooden structure opposite the Laborie Credit Union, draped in the glorious colours of the St Lucian flag. We met a passerby in the credit union parking lot and inquired as to who dwelled in such an almost fairytale abode.
“Oh! Mr Mc Farlane! A real nice guy!” was the response we got.
We called out for Mr Mc Farlane. A chirpy answer came from within, “I’ll be right there.” A woman came out of a side door carrying a gorgeous bouquet and behind her appeared a homely man giving advice on what to do to keep the flowers fresh longer. Introducing ourselves and inquiring about the décor, Collins Mc Farlane was more than happy to welcome us into his home.
His story begins many decades ago, when at 18 he recognized he had an eye for detail. Originally from Vieux Fort, this soon to be 67-year-old dabbled in decorating and designing from an early age and continues to do it today. His mother was very influential in his talent. She made dolls and he learned to sew clothes for them. As his talent grew, he moved on to decorating the Vieux Fort Catholic Church for weddings and funerals. There his interest in botany spurred. He began growing flowers and making wreaths and bouquets. He then became employed at Halcyon and stayed there for fifteen years. From Halcyon he moved on to the St Jude’s Hospital where he truly found his calling and stayed employed there for 21 years until his retirement. At St Jude’s, Collins learned he loved caring for those who couldn’t do it for themselves. It came in handy when his mother took ill. He left his home in Vieux Fort to live with her in Laborie, to take care of her. She eventually passed and Collins decided to remain in Laborie. Even after his retirement, Collins still goes around his community to keep the elderly company. He visits different homes when he can.
Speaking about his décor skills Collins told the STAR, “It’s a gift from God. I will just sit there and while eating my eyes will wander and ideas will start coming to me. I don’t really do it as much now.”
In his backyard is a thriving kitchen garden. Just before we left his house he exclaimed, “Oh! Are you hungry? Have a sandwich.” Before we even had time to respond, Collins popped into his kitchen and popped back out with two sandwiches wrapped in foil.
Obviously the question arose, “Do you always keep sandwiches handy?”
“Of course! I have different types of sandwiches. I prepare them and keep them close just in case someone passes and they’re hungry. I sometimes go around the village and give them out too. I prepare them fresh everyday and I use the things I grow in my garden to make it tasty,” he smiled.
If you’re ever in Laborie, be sure to stop by Mr Mc Farlane for some homegrown hospitality.