A pied crow cheekily scouring the back garden for any snacks — that rough cawing and hopping about. I laugh as I watch.
Autumn is here with barrow loads of squash and butternut and my kitchen has baskets piled high with yellow and orange squash, sweet carrots with dirt still clinging, papery brown onions and tiny flat white cipolino onions, banana shallots, plaited strings of garlic and dried jalopeno chillies.
My housemate has gone walkabout, taking her first walk up through the village all alone with a single crutch, stopping to greet neighbours and pay an electricity account. She has had cabin fever all week and was determined to get out and walk about like a free woman.
Sat in on and helped facilitate a women’s workshop with women speakers from north Congo talking (in French through translators) about recovery from life-threatening trauma, the attacks on women by criminal militia. Very moving shares — one of the women is coming to help out at the local clinic and may stay with us for a while, 65 years old and raped by militia in front of her children and grandchildren — she suffered terrible fistulas after the rapes, then had her throat cut, but survived and laid charges, demanded refugee status elsewhere. She has a great sense of humour and is physically strong as whipcord. It was humbling to listen to women like her, surviving the unspeakable, the unimaginable, and reclaiming their lives. And I once again I realize that Africa punches the sentimentality out of those of us who live here.
In a nearby garden, somebody is chopping firewood. I wonder idly what kind of wood: vine stumps or acacia thorn or branches of rooikranz, appalewood, black wattle. In the evenings and early mornings there is the scent of woodsmoke from cooking fires and chimneys. Many villagers have old Dover and Rayburn wood-burning stoves and save on electricity, keeping tall pots of black coffee simmering on the back plate. It is good to know the years of egographical escapes has passed, that I have come home to myself. Sobriety is the only landscape or horizon I want.