Posted tagged ‘wood fires’

“Autumn bowed to place a beautiful crown on the Queen of Morning, and her velvet robes sway merrily in the chilly breeze.”

November 4, 2017

The morning was chilly. I took Gracie out into the backyard and sat and waited for her. I smelled a wood fire and all of a sudden my memory jumped back to Ghana and mornings during the harmattan. Those mornings were cold, as cold as I ever felt in Bolga where daytime temperatures often reached over 100˚. The morning air was filled with the aroma of wood fires burning in the compounds behind my house. I could hear muted voices and the sound of water from the tap filling my students’ buckets for their morning baths. Roosters still crowed. Those mornings were a delight.

Gracie has muscular degeneration. Signals aren’t getting to her back legs. The vet said it will get worse, but she is hoping we can slow the progress. Gracie is now getting a pain pill every day. In two weeks the vet will assess the value of her continuing to take them. After that two week mark, Gracie is going to start acupuncture. She’ll have two sessions and then an evaluation to see if it has helped.

I could barely walk this morning and my back pain was horrific. Yesterday I had to lift Gracie three times: twice to the car and once to the backseat of the car after she had lost her footing and couldn’t get back on the seat; consequently, I have ordered a back dog lift. I wish I had it yesterday.

Every time I look out at the deck, I feel a bit of sadness. All the furniture is covered. The flowers have been moved off the rails. The candles hanging off the branches are gone. Only the bird feeders remain.

When I was a kid, the preparations for winter were my father’s jobs. He took down the screens and replaced them with the storm windows. He removed the screens from the two doors and put in the storm doors. He went to the gas station and had the snow tires put on his car. Every weekend he’d rake the lawn, move the pile of leaves to the gutter by the sidewalk and then burn them. The smell of burning leaves is one of my all time favorites, and it carries memories of my dad. I can see him standing there by the flaming leaves while smoke billowed into the air. He held on to his rake and used it periodically to move more leaves into the fire. I stayed until the leaves were gone.

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.”

June 7, 2016

So far today is another lovely day. When I got the papers this morning, I could smell the scent of the flowers from my front garden. I had to stop to look and to smell. The air was summer. This afternoon the storm is coming with rain, heavy winds and even the possibility of hail. Right now with sunlight, small breezes and the singing of birds the rain seems improbable.

My microwave just died after a long and useful life. I will replace it today if I can find one I like. The dead one was small. It fit on an old child’s desk in my kitchen. My African cookbooks were on top, and kitchen towels were in the space beneath the top where school books used to be stored. I figure I’ll need my neighbor’s help hauling the old out and the new in. My back doesn’t do heavy.

The flight to Ghana is booked. We’re leaving on September 20th and returning on October 7th. The only glitch is a long layover in New York, five hours, before we leave. We’re hoping that may change by September. If not, we’ll be lounge lizards.

Traveling with my friends will be the best part of this trip. They are funny, amiable and sarcastic, one of my favorite traits. They will be driving from New Hampshire to meet me in Boston. We have a few places already on our to visit list including the new lodge at Mole National Park (http://zainalodge.com). It is expensive, but we figured we deserved it.

We have decided to fly from Accra to Tamale. The land trip is long and tedious, and we’ve done it enough times that we don’t need to do it again. I flew that route a few times when I lived in Ghana. It was a luxury on my monthly pittance. After the lodge, we’ll rent a car and driver to go to Bolga where we hope to stay in a former student’s new house. She is hurrying to finish so we can stay there. All we need is windows and a bathroom that flushes. I hate aiming at a hole. AC would also be nice.

I always knew I’d go back to Ghana. Over the years I said it many times when people asked me. I don’t know what took me so long to get there. Now I’m going to make my third trip in five years. The first time back I remember getting so excited as the flight neared landing. When I got outside the airport so many memories rushed back at me. The air smelled of wood fires and trees and thick bushes. I could hear Twi being spoken and Ga, the local language. The Ghanaians were hustling to make money carrying bags. That too was so familiar. They use to rush us at bus depots and train stations. I felt the heat and the humidity. I started to sweat. Yup, that was Ghana.

 

“Every morning a new sun greets us and our new life begins.”

August 13, 2015

Gracie and I are out on the deck. She is sleeping in the shade of the oak and pine trees. It isn’t quiet. Inside my house Roseanne and Lee are cleaning, and I can hear the vacuum and conversations in Portuguese. My next door neighbor is back from Brazil. I can hear her yelling at her kids, but she too speaks Portuguese so I have no idea what the kids are doing. The ever-present birds fly in and out. They eat at the feeders and wait in line to use the fountain as a bird bath. Gracie thinks it’s a water fountain. All of us appreciate it. The day is lovely, warm in the sun but cool with a nice breeze in the shade. I am in the perfect spot.

Yesterday morning I was up early. When I went to get the papers, I could feel, hear and smell the morning. That probably sounds strange, but I swear early mornings are different. It doesn’t matter where you are. Ground fog rises in the morning and lingers until the sun holds sway. Birds sing louder than during any other part of day. On city streets, outside the small cafes, sidewalks are swept and chairs and tables are arranged. Some places serve eggs and bacon but others serve cold cuts, rolls and cheese. The bread is always fresh, soft. In other places the smell of wood burning fills the air as breakfast is cooked over the flames. Smoke curls above the fires. There are fewer people out and about in the early mornings. They always look a bit sleepy to me as if they have yet to find the day.

I am also drawn to the night. I love staying up late and being the only one still awake. The houses around me are dark except for the one behind me. He leaves his back light on. I think of him as the unpleasant neighbor. If Gracie barks more than three times, he yells which makes her bark more. He plays his country music so loud on Saturdays I have to go inside the house for a bit of peace. I don’t yell, one in the neighborhood is enough.

Last night I went outside to try to see the meteors. I was barefoot and walked tentatively as I didn’t turn on the light. My feet got wet on the grass, but I avoided the pitfalls and made it to the road without incident. I stayed for about 40 minutes, saw only two, got discouraged and went inside.