Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Of Onions and Mosquitoes.

Last Sunday found me on my 2nd Garden Safari of 2013. It was on the whole, a Sit Down Affair, thus maybe Safari isn't quite the right terminology. So there I am sat sitting, (that was just to annoy the language purists!!) watching the world go by when that famous Shrek quote comes to mind.
"For your information, there's a lot more to ogres than people think.
Donkey: Example?
Shrek: Example... uh... ogres are like onions!
[holds up an onion, which Donkey sniffs]
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes... No!
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry?
Shrek: No!
Donkey: Oh, you leave 'em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin' little white hairs...
Shrek: [peels an onion] NO! Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
[walks off]
Donkey: Oh, you both have LAYERS. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions. What about cake? Everybody loves cake!
Shrek: I don't care what everyone else likes! Ogres are not like cakes.
Donkey: You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious!
Shrek: NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later.
Donkey: Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!"

Sorry, felt the need to put the whole quote in. I looked around me and was struck by the Layers of Life, that were unfolding infront of me.
High up in pure blue sky, faclons and some odd looking stork-like birds, were rolling around in circles. Big ones, not little ones (cirles) doing a kind of bird version of mooching about the place. No hurry, no place to go, just floating around on currents of warm air. Then, to my amazement, an enormous bird flapped sedately into view. It was going somewhere, with just a bit of purpose, but there was no hurry. I think it was a Fish eagle. Majestic, is probably the best word I can think of to describe it.
Lower down, but still relatively high, were the Swallows (or Swifts, I never can tell). They were in contrast to the moochers, dashing around frantically. Apparently working to a very tight schedule, that involved constant high speed action.
Just above the tree tops the Burundi version of Crows (or Rooks, I never can tell!!) with their smart white waist coats were noisily organising each other and anyone else available. They appeared purposeful, but lacked a certain credibility. Anything that makes such an ugly noise every time it opens it's mouth (beak), can't really be taken too seriously.
In the trees a variety of birds were flitting around. Doves, Masked Weavers, a tiny black Sun bird, Firefinches and others that I have yet to identify. All working a various speeds and with varying amounts of conviction.  Feeding, preening, singing, another Layer.
As I focused on the birds, a movement on the ground caught my eye, a lizard scuttled across an open space and then back into the safety of cover. Bees, dragonflies, butterflies and a variety of odd, medium-sized flying things, all pursued their own activites at their distinctive insecty pace of life.
Flies, ants crept around at their miniscule rate, in their own tiny universes.
Finally, my eyes and thoughts were drawn to the variety of plants, which to all intense and purpose appearing to be doing nothing. But yet not. Growing , drawing in sunlight, blooming. The Walking Palm, that is actually gradually making it's own ponderous way across the garden.

It was DEEP stuff, I was lost in my own little philosophical paradise, when a familiar feeling struck my ankle. I looked down and there was yet another Layer of Life! eating my leg. A dear little mosquito, having a mid-morning snack. It's in mosquito heaven now. Of course there is never just one of the little dears. Suddenly my focus was drawn firmly away from my observation of Life's Layers, to guarding my exposed flesh. Suddenly, it was all about me, the Layers were gone and I was focused solely upon myself.  After a few more attempts to promote my tiny friends to glory, I decided that it was no use, I would have to give up and go indoors.
But then another thought struck me. Why? Why stop, revelling in this amazing creation just because mosquitoes are biting you? Go inside, put some Repellent on, and come back out. You don't have to be dictated to by these tiny irritating things.
That done, I brought my now slightly greasy, sticky, nasty smelling flesh back outside and sat again.
No longer bothered by the Mosquito squad, I was able to return to my observation of Life's Layers.
Then it struck me. How often are there 'mosquitoes' in our lives? Things that force us to focus on ourselves, to guard our own comfort. Things that force us to retreat 'indoors' and out of the sunlight. Things that we could easily protect ourselves from. But we don't bother, because it's maybe a bit inconvenient or uncomfortable. So we hide away and avoid the mosquitoes and at the same time miss the rest of life.
I don't think you have to come to Burundi and sit in the garden to take time to step back and observe the Layers in creation around you. Have a go. Find out what your mosquitoes are and deal with them!

The following pictures are 'A Study in Bark'. Having overcome my mosquito distraction, I got really carried away exploring every last detail I could imagine.

By the way, I also ended the day looking rather Lobsteresque ! Forgot to look quite that high!

Interesting or what?!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Field Trips....!

I'm back! Did you miss me?
Since my last Blog I have spent two weeks in England, moved house AGAIN!! and today completed my first official 'field trip' with my class. Plus a few other things that are too mundane to mention.

Firstly, my trip to England. I would like to confirm that England is wet and cold and dull. I wore socks for the first time in four months and rediscovered the joys of walking in the rain with cold, wet feet. However, it was great to spend time with the family and friends. I had a fantastic time discovering the delights of Kingswere and Dartmouth with Evie (4 yr old granddaughter). We saw a seal, and a dolphin and caught buckets of crabs. I'm looking forward to going back in the Summer!

On my return to Bujumbura I was given a rapturous welcome by a host of mosquitoes. Who even held a banquet in my honour! At no cost to themselves, it was all entirely on me!!

My new walk to school - yes I am living in the Capital city
The road I live on.
My first day back I moved house! It's a long story and not very amusing, so I wont bore you with all the details. What I will say is that I have a whole new potential for Safaris. My new housemates are two muzungus, who have been in Bujumbura for many years and one grey cat, that despite being Burundian speaks very good English. We even have our own washing machine. It has electricity and drainage, but no water supply! It's a whole lot more than most people have in Bujumbura!

So what of today's Year 6 Field Trip? (Drum rollllllll) We went to the ..............Post Office! Yes, that's it. We went to the Post Office, queued up, bought stamps, stuck them on our letters and posted the letters. Then, after being given an impromptu tour by a very enthusiastic Post Master, we went and opened our Post Boxes to collect the post for the school and CRIB house. It's hard to begin to describe just how exciting it was and how awesome it was for me to be part of it. I think it's one of the things I love best about this place. It's so easy to do something special.

I love being in a place where, treats are things like; cheese on toast, squash and popcorn, drinking chocolate, music during lessons, watching a film on a big screen in the garden, having an IT lesson in the computer room, going on the bus to the Post Office, getting a football shirt from England, having a packet of Randoms for the first time ever.

I am experiencing problems with getting pictures onto this Blog. So will post it without. But if anyone out there knows what's going on, please let me know!

PS: Finally done it!! Thanks to Picasa web albums.

 Please, please take our photo too....................

My new house. It's mostly garden with a house nestled in. Paradise as far as I'm concerned.

So exciting finding our way into the school Post Box.

Mission accomplished!

Bulbul , a very chatty little birds, that likes to be near you in the garden.

Masked Weaver, captured my attention for ages!

Ox heart fruit - Nomination for the ugliest fruit I have ever seen. Not tried it yet, not sure I ever will.