Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The open road

The other weekend I did something unusual, for me anyway. It had lodged in my brain as a possibility over a month ago and refused to budge in spite of the guilt, the recriminations and the arguments. These before I even told the family. So having spent the previous week in a state of nervous indecision I finally told the children I was abandoning them, for one whole night.

There were tears, of course, from the Brown-eyed Girl. "But I want you and Baba" she pleaded. A few minutes of uncertainty ensued as she gauged how serious my threat to leave was. Then the major question arose: "Who will put me to sleep?" Baba wouldn't do. She thought a few moments "I'll put myself to sleep". I sighed with relief and got ready to go. Little Boy Blue seemed unfazed, even watching me board the bus he was fine.

On the bus I admit to suppressing the urge to soothe the crying baby before being distracted by the young woman beside me. Apart from fiddling with the air conditioning at irregular intervals, she rang at least ten people to tell them she was moving 100km south of where she had been. She ignored the signs warning passengers to turn off their mobile phones. One wasn't enough either, she had to have two phones.

I missed the children, though not as they are now; confident, articulate, ambulant. I missed my babies, their cuddly helplessness and easy smiles. They are not so big that I've forgotten everything though. Neither slept through the night until during their third year; the frustration of not knowing what was wrong as they cried; the need to keep them constantly entertaine; and the eating cold dinners after catering for everyone else first. Actually the last still applies, it's a rule to ask for something just as Mammy sits down, first one, then the next and so on. Then when they've got everything they want, they demand to be fed. Maybe one night away isn't enough.

After three hours and countless local bus stations, we arrived at our rest stop to be greeted by bare-chested beer-bellied Bulgarians drinking beer. It was a shock to my delicate sensibilities to be confronted by bare chests on the street. So I hurried downtown to make my virtual friends real.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Autumn colours

The ridge is a wash of russets, reds and browns. The few pale glimpses of green are slowly overtaken by the darker colours.

But these are evergreen trees, dying in the wake of the fire.

Already a lot have been logged, standing stacked by the roadside, shorn of their burnt bark. The village workers are shrouded head to foot in black soot, pale eyes standing out against the burned earth.

Here and there the growth begins, hints of green sprout from the ashes. Our gozlemeci has reopened in the petrol station a few km's down the road.

Life goes on.