Saturday, August 24, 2013

..of stars and polaroids...

we take the back roads to town and back now because of the road works. it seems the ‘flaggers’ have no control. they blissfully wave the red and the green flags, as dexterously as fire dancers, almost flagrantly, it seems, sending buses, fuel tankers and dala dalas careering towards each other on one lane diversions for a happy head on collision. nobody seems afraid of dying here. one little twist of the steering wheel and its over….it's not that we're afraid of dying, i assure you, it's just that, frankly, not right now.thanks. too much to look forward to, ya know?  so, instead, we take the back roads, through the dry, golden maize fields, down bumpy dirt roads and passed little dukkas with sad billiard tables outside. at night it’s best. those roads you thought you knew like the back of your hand morph into roads that seem strangely familiar but cast a sense of unknown. we always hope to spy an aardvark or an owl. or a porcupine. perhaps a duiker or a dik dik or score high with a striped hyaena. mostly, they're seen dead on the tar.

last night the stars were too distracting for night spotting. our eyes were outward and upward, not delving into the dry scrub lining the track. the evening star was as big as an orange, low in the west, guiding us back to our hill. you could tell stellar dimensions…which ones were close and which ones were far, as though each one was dangling on its own invisible fish line. star gazing and driving IS possible, especially on the back roads at night. you might hit a bump too hard, or whack a maize stalk over. 'as all. the wild wind pushes the old Toyota along, dust engulfing the car as you slow down for a karonga,  road ribs or a zig zaggin' hare in the headlights. we don’t care about the dust anymore. it’s pointless. you simply give in to keep the windows down, the wind in and let the dust shape your hair and line your skin. it makes your bogies black. just sayin'. "Louisiana" plays on the cassette, stretched from overplay and we can't even remember what rain feels like.

TANESCO staggers on…and mostly off, as always. it’s spooky getting home to a dark house. moonlight shadows, a crunched footstep in the dark and the ever present menace, a silent, dark house. the dogs dancing around your legs banish the demons.  i was loathe to start the generator but teenagers need light and power it seems. i’d have been happy enough with the old oil lamp and the constellations. 

somehow, after everything,  the stars are still fatter and spikier and the winds stranger here, binding me with invisible ribbons to this dusty, wind blown little round hill. i need to get on the horse and ride out, make a gypsy camp out on the plains, hang little flags from tree to tree and sing next to a fire, listening to wind songs and the sigh of the appaloosa, spy the shy Pleiades and wake early enough to see the morning star and the softest of all horizons before the sun flattens it all into a harsh reality and i’m back at school…which starts on monday. mondays have never seemed so terrible.

i had the best holiday ever. we drove for miles and miles along roads i have never been, around corners where the world fell away into breath taking crinkled mountains, passed farms which sparkled with frost in the early morning, speeding through mists of other countries’ blue twinkling winters.

i saw the morning star above the Indian ocean where the whales will soon start to migrate. i walked under sun warmed lemons and through beatrix potter landscapes, with a pale winter sun glinting through avenues of old oaks. orchards of peach blossoms buzzed with bees – the flowers blooming like idjits who thought summer had arrived and winter was a forgotten thing of the past… stepping out into a cold Nairobi morning, i saw what had happened to winter…it had traffic jammed in east Africa, grey, dirty and solidly unromantic. 

arriving home, ghosts whispered in the corners where the pictures are stacked. i hung the new wind chime which sings different, prettier wind songs, drawing me away from the ones i know so well, the ones which have lost notes because of the wasp nests inside the pipes. i threw the plastic flowers away, the red ones, which have graced the lounge for the last 8 years and replaced them with a live curly wurly fern. long may she live.(remember? i kill plants just by looking at them…except for cactii and jasmine.) the jasmine grows wild and true and prolific outside. it scents the house, riding the little winds which curl through the open windows. it makes me smile. i put some in my little office next to my Buddah and another spray on the fireplace which burns brightly with coffee wood and keeps me warm in these cold, quiet times. 

in the dark fire lit hours, i plan zanzibar safaris and brighter, warmer times. i listen intently to the mountain wind rattling the old tin roof, the moon bright and full through the loft window and sleep, lost in dreams i vaguely remember in the morning. i used to be so good at remembering.

sometimes it’s better to understand the world through music and images. they encapsulate moments, like a floating string of polaroids, blinking in the dark space of the mind, like the very pretty stars in the night sky.
music, poetry, old letters and  photographs are such a consolation.
and stars, oh bloggin' babies, stars.

so i leave y'all with a most beautiful version of Dylan's Buckets Of Rain' by Beth Orton.

toodely toot, y'all and bisous X.X.X.sweet jasmine ones, on yer dust laden lips. x j


donna baker said...

Beautiful prose Janelle. Loved the bucket of rain song.

Janelle said...

yeah! isn't it great donna? love it. thanks for actually clicking the link. x j

k said...

Oh Janelle this is so beautiful. I probably say the same thing every time I comment on one of your posts. Hard to explain why beautiful snapshots of a life on a hill in a place I have never been are so evocative. I listened to the song and imagined the night time arrival home in the dark to jasmine and stars and I cried. I love the way you write. Every post is a treasure. Thank you.

tut-tut said...

A great post; a prose poem.

Janelle said...

ah thank you very much k...! it makes me happy to know someone loves to read what i write and that they feel it so. x j
and tut tut! thank you! x j

Robyn said...

I want long unknown roads, with dust in my hair and red feet and to be surrounded by a blanket if stars...Hogg and that noddy badge!
Monday. Hellish indeed. Hope you slept on Sunday!

fushandchips said...

Just re-read this. Cracking post. Yes.

What Possessed Me said...

Gawd, girl. Your writing. I just feel like everyone else should give up trying. You transported me. xo

Silvia Byrne said...

Beautiful beautiful writing. As always. Africa is right here where i am sitting. x

Janelle said...

Thanks Robyn ...just take the tracks off any main road and follow your nose! Bingo! Thanks for swingin' by. X j
Why thank you Fush, darlin' ! Yay. X j
You don't do so badly yerself WPM. So there! X j
Thanks Silvia...yeah...Africa stays in your bones, especially when you're far away... Thanks for leaving a comment! X j

Sarah Jambiani said...

Was thinkin of you strong today and was going to email you and then went to your blog...and so glad that I did. Killer lines in here...the windchimes, more. Miss your energy, although we met only briefly. But then I come to your blog and here it is, shining, in this stunning prose. Have been sitting here online instead of writing, myself..and this is the shove I need, except not a shove, more of a beckoning. Beautiful, Janelle. Hope to see you soon.

Mark said...

Re-read...escapism. Thx.

toomuchaugust said...

i, too, used to be good at remembering. i think this is why we both depend on fat stars. good to read you again. xos

Bridget W. said...

You got it baby! You Gooood!! " the stars are still fatter and spikier and the winds stranger here, binding me with invisible ribbons to this dusty, wind blown little round hill."
Love the music too ;) x