Tarry a While



I don’t know how many miles we did. Two thousand? Three?  Days and miles and dusted-horizons blurred so that I never knew whether it was Monday or Thursday, March or May.  Big vistas, broad views, aquamarine seas and emerald trees and lilac-bruised hills, blushing clouds and wide expanses of water as mirrors for Africa to admire her freshly laundered look in.  The rains are well and truly in the East and flame lilies push themselves forth for a long drink and a palm frond is bedecked with brightbeadeyed bats cradling babies.

But I do know now – today – what day it is (the Outpost anchors me in grownup reality, time to be responsible): a Wednesday in the last lingering days of watery April.

And I know that my eldest daughter hasn’t done as many miles this week as she was meant to do.

Was I, I wondered, the only person in the world who offered a silent prayer of thanks for the ash that the volcano spat across highwhitewide skies?

Mother Nature in quiet, cunning cahoots with Motherhood: I secured my position for a few days more and my daughter didn’t go back to school: she came home. With me.  You’re part of History in the Making, I told her: an unprecedented event, I said.

I check her reservation when I wake. On Wednesday. British Airways confirms it has been rescheduled but they warn of further disruption: Union wrought this time, not effected by God or the gods or whichever deity tweaks tectonic plates and earthly fissures just to test mankind’s sense of endurance or humour or versatility, just to prove somebody else is boss mainly. Not Gordon Brown: I was never sure what it was stranded passengers expected him to do exactly? Plug that spewing crater? Throw caution to the ashstrung wind?  

And I watched weary travellers battle their way home across a grounded continent – some demonstrating more endurance/humour/versatility than others and I thought about Africa’s stoicism when on the road and how she’d never expect anybody to come to her rescue (for she knows it would nevereverever occur to her fat politicians that her plight was anything to do with any of them as they roared by ensconced in the chilly air-conditioned interior of brand new 4x4s without so much as a glance in her direction through smoked-glass windows): she’d just get on with it.

Her erect posture and graceful sway, a bucket balanced upon her head. She’d sell a chicken roadside. Or a woven mat. Or, alas, half of her own precious forests bagged as blackly bleeding charcoal.

Or she’d  sit and wait. In the shade of a tree and watch the world go by and the clouds scud and bruise a sky.    

And she’d probably smile in the gently resigned way she has learned to.

And I had to wonder: do we hurry too much?

15 Responses to “Tarry a While”

  1. R. Sherman Says:

    We do hurry too much. Thanks for a post to help us stop and look around occasionally.


  2. Iota Says:

    Oh gosh, yes we do, of course we do.

    Husband is stuck in England. I’ve told him “relax, you can’t do anything, enjoy the time”. He’s staying with my mum and they could be having a lovely time together. But he’s all anxious and stressed, and not enjoying it at all. He says he has to spend hours on the phone to airlines, the car hire company, bla bla bla, and I think he just wants to be home.

  3. little red hen Says:

    Those are all really beautiful pictures. Yes, we do hurry too much and it seems to be getting worse.

  4. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    I think the volcano crisis has brought it all home – we live in a crazy world, rushing around by air travel and SO reliant on it. And you’re right, nobody would ever go to Africa’s aid over something like this.

    I was thinking that if I had been my teenage self, about to return to boarding school after the holidays, I would have been delighted by the delays.

  5. Angela Schmidt Says:

    Its name is Eyjafjallajökull, and though I do like the name, it made my daughter stay home instead of going to her so much-looked-forward trip to Africa. Nevertheless, it could have been worse. And we all here in Germany enjoyed the beautiful skies with no vapour trails in the air. No one could see the ashes, either. All very interesting and humbling. Perhaps we do learn something from it?

  6. blackmzungu Says:

    well the so called modern life people are so wasteful even with the global warming one never realize how much we contribute to pollution…..but where are we rushing to…. Africa is beautiful and the people dont care if they sit on the bus for 18 hours or on a bicycle for 20 km its just life….

  7. Mud Says:

    We definitely hurry far too much. No time to stand and stare. I’m guilty. But a delicious moment of just Being comes as surprising respite these days.

  8. doglover Says:

    The volcano made me laugh. I was at home, not going anywhere. I heard and saw on TV the panic and distress of people delayed a few days from getting home. I was sorry for the mothers with small children waiting endlessly in airports or travelling in hot coaches, but for the rest …?

    If they rush around like headless chickens now, what do such people do when confronted with a real problem?

    I think I’ll take old Tom, my Labrador, for a walk and think about this wonderful human race of ours.

  9. paula Says:

    I think Africa teaches us a thing or to about reality. We learn to look after ourselves, and to take the rough with the smooth. We learn that every journey has its moments of sitting under a tree and waiting for the “ash” to clear:))

  10. nuttycow Says:

    I’m glad you had such a good time away. I admit, I worried too much about not being able to go places and do things when we were under the Ash Cloud of Doom ™ but now I think about it, you’re right, why worry?

  11. Tattie Weasle Says:

    So pleased to hear those extra few days were truly appreciated – a gift. I loved teh fact that there were no planes or helicopters thudding noisily over my home and I cold hear the insects buzzing about their business. Sheer heaven…

  12. Family Affairs Says:

    How brilliant to enjoy that unexpected extra time…..hope you’re OK about being home Lx

  13. ali la loca Says:

    Your photos brought back so many memories of my time in Mozambique…different country, obviously, but so much the same – the flowering trees, the Indian Ocean beaches, and the tall sacks of charcoal on the roadside.

  14. MTJAM Says:

    Yes, we definitely hurry too much. I wish I could learn to slow down a little; I seem incapable of functioning at any slower than 100 mph, and I feel as though I will break if I carry on at this rate. Perhaps I really do need to come out to you for a holiday – just to learn to stop and look and listen…

  15. nmaha Says:

    I’ve just started reading your blog and I don’t know what I feel….I’ve grown up reading Wilbur Smith and this seems to bring all the information I have on Africa to life……..please keep writing

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