An African's Anecdotes and Accoutrements
Robert Byrne’s words have been on my mind a lot this weekend. I’ve been unpacking our winter clothes this weekend; a singularly depressing task. When I packed them away earlier this year I honestly didn’t think I’d be taking them out again while we were here. We had a dream and a plan... sadly Allen Stanford destroyed those hopes a few months before they could become reality.
I don’t mind winter. What I do mind is the layers of clothing one has to wear in order to go anywhere. In our house I can get by in a tracksuit or long sleeved t-shirt. But planning a simple trip to the shops is not that easy. In order to turn on the car so it has a chance to warm up before trying to drive anywhere one has to go outside. And in this house that’s going to take some careful consideration on my part.
I’m a very clumsy person - I’m always knocking things over, tripping over things like carpets and dogs’ tails or knocking into doorways with my arms. I’d love to blame my missing limb, but I’ve been this way since I was born. Unfortunately that missing limb makes me worse. I should take out shares in any company marketing arnica cream, because it really does help minimise bruised body parts.
But back to this house...
To get to my car I have to walk down twelve ceramic-tiled stairs, only two of which are covered. We’ve been getting a bit of rain at night, so in the morning those steps are wet. While the tiles have a matte finish they do get slippery, and are treacherous for me. With my propensity for crashing into things I’m already wondering what they’ll be like next month, when the temperature here really starts to dive. Don’t get me started on snow - I love the stuff, but thinking about it melting and refreezing on those tiles makes me break out in a very cold sweat.
I’m also getting nervous thinking about going into Yakkakoy. Because we live in the mountains north of Izmir we’re already much colder than Bornova and the city centre. I remember driving with Denis and Denise last year around this area after the first snow fall (December 21) and the roads didn’t take long to ice up. In fact, the highway to Manisa was closed for two or three mornings in a row last year because the roads iced up so quickly. There’s a steep hill we have to drive up to get to Yakkakoy, so I guess the minute it snows I’ll be driving along the winding but flat road to Ulucak - if I have to go out. More planning required on my part to minimise my road presence.
Needless to say I can find beauty in winter, especially in this part of the world. Coming from Africa we don’t get snow, so for me the first snow is always spectacular... as will be the sight of snow resting in the branches of the pine trees all around our complex. I love putting my foot into freshly fallen snow, watching my shoeprint form and hearing that crunching noise as the icicles compact. I love to see the trail of footprints left by my dogs as they wander over the carpet of snow, and watching them catch snowballs I throw at them. The snow sticks to Jabba’s black fur, and he carefully and methodically takes it off when he moves off the lawn. The snow also compacts between his toes and turns into lumps of ice. I’ve watched him carefully remove and eat those “ice cubes”, often putting his entire foot into his mouth.
Then there’s those lovely fires... messy to clean up but well worth the effort for the roasted chestnuts... and the lovely dancing flames.... not forgetting the crackling sound as it burns. I bought my first chestnuts on Friday, but I doubt I’m be chucking them onto the fire for a few weeks. Those will be cooked in the oven - I love chestnuts too!
I guess this means I winter!!!
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus, French Philosopher. 1913 to 1960