An Island to Oneself
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Thomas Francis "Tom" Neale (November 6, 1902 - November 27, 1977) was a New Zealander bushcraft and survival enthusiast who spent much of his life in the Cook Islands and 16 years in three sessions living alone on the island of Anchorage in the Suwarrow atoll, which was the basis of this autobiography.
tin-snips in case the tin roof of the shack should need attention. And when I was in the hardware store, it suddenly seemed a wise precaution to buy two tins of paint to protect any new building I might have to erect. I needed some spare hacksaw blades and when I bought some eighteen-inch lengths of round iron, with the idea of making them into spears, I had to buy two extra files. I had made enough fish spears in the past to know that even the toughest file doesn't last for ever. Then I bought a
would think there would be a use for a bicycle pump on the island, but I used one with, I hope, good advantage today. A young breadfruit tree, about ten feet high near the garden is badly infested with White Aphis or Mealy Bug, and the black rust mites (a sooty-like deposit): true name unknown to me. I sprayed it with about three gallons of soapy water which I used this morning to boil bed-clothes. The bicycle pump made an excellent spray." Or there was the inevitable moment on the home front
reluctant. I took a matchstick and bound some very fine, almost hair-like feathers of a bosun bird with cotton on to the end to make a miniature brush. Since I found it virtually impossible to distinguish the female from the male blossoms as they hung in clusters on the plants, the best I could do was to brush from flower to flower without taking off any blossoms. I went over the whole tomato crop two or three times, first one way, then another, and it worked. Once I had fertilised the blossoms,
and for a while I was faced with a shortage of eggs. Nor had I any tomatoes, for though the plants were as tall as I am, the blossom still did not always turn to fruit. Soon I was forced to begin taking long rests in the middle of the day, something I had never done before in my life. Next I developed an insatiable craving for meat; in other words for the single, solitary tin of bully beef which was now all that was left, but which I was determined to keep for Christmas Day. It sounds
eighty-foot palms in such a way that they stood out almost in silhouette — jet black with a dazzling light shining through them. It seemed to me (perhaps understandably!) that the island had never looked more beautiful, and as we rounded the south end into the lagoon I noticed first the canopy of shorter palms that bent almost protectively over the beach, like a natural umbrella, and then the old pier which looked much as it had when I left. Frisbie's five big tamanu trees were still standing —