Archive for January, 2018

Silver Linings

January 27, 2018


Already the year is racing by.


I write. But I do not write enough. Not here. I don’t write enough here. Here in this invisible space where I can write what I want to write, how I want to write. There need be no message, no Expert Input to validate my opinion, no word count constraint, I can even make up words to lend fullfistfullfat impact. Here I can be Me.


At the very end of last year we celebrated Hat’s 21st, early, before she headed back to South America. We celebrate on a verandah, a sultry evening, a syrupy moon hung in a salty air and the waves rolled up and down the beach unravelling as lace. I gave her a silver bracelet, a herd of tiny elephants, trunk to tail, to wrap about her wrist so that Africa would always be close to her skin, no matter how far away from it she was. And later that night, dancing on the sand, she lost it.


We hunted. Of course we did. And then we gave up. The beach is long and deep and the Spring tide high so I imagined the bangle halfway to India come the New Year.


But two days into it, two days into just-unpacked January, walking along the beach alone, anticipating – sadly – imminent departure from home of all those I love most, I noticed, partly buried, a tangle of silver, as if somebody had discarded the foil wrapper from a stick of gum. It can’t be, I thought. I took a step closer and the sun caught the metal so that it winked encouragingly and grew a shape: a tiny herd of elephants lay in the sand, trunk to tail. I let out a squeal, scooped it up and ran up the beach.


I have had an omen, I announce to everybody, all assembled eagerly for lunch. They look up, I’ve had an omen, I repeat. Yes, they say, expectantly.


2018 is going to be a good year, I say and I open my palm to reveal Hat’s lost bracelet, it’s dainty clasp broken: a miracle as her dad observes, to find something so tiny in a veritable ocean of space.




So now I am home. Home on my mountain. And back at work. Writing for a newspaper in a country I have never visited – such is the extraordinary mileage afforded on the magic carpet of the ether – minding my words, remembering to quote my Experts, counting characters. But in the slip of the day when I’ve done my time, I stand from my desk and stretch back and shoulders, roll my neck which I can hear creak for all the still, strained hours hunched over a screen and I whistle up the dogs to walk.

The garden here needs a little taming – but only a little. I do not presume to rein Africa in. I need only to know the grass around my home is short enough not to harbour snakes, beyond that I am happy to let a wilderness of acacia and thorn scramble unruly.

The sun is settling itself in the west so that it throws Meru into sharp dark-pencilled relief. Marmalade coloured light leaves reluctantly. The gnarled branches of trees, the tall, ancient trees that stand in my new-old wild garden, shred it as fingers, so that ribbons of gold wrap and gild the green.

I stand and watch my millionmile view disappear in darkness and rose-dust. I can hear the evening call of the Turaco in the forest. I think – I hope – I can feel peace settle.


sunset blog