Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I had only intended to make a quick grocery run that day, grab some yogurt, cilantro, and a few other things I needed for dinner from Al-Nour. But I'd gotten distracted and found myself heading south on 400, into the city. The drive is a long one and covers an unending stretch of serpentine tarmac lanes contained between brutal concrete barriers, beyond which the unchanging scenery of kudzu-covered forest lay. In some places the Marta tracks run alongside the road and then fly overhead only to disappear into the weald. I imagine there are squirrels and other woodland creatures in there too, but the trees' branches grow thick and any movement is easily veiled.

I am constantly surprised by the sheer abundance of the natural resources here. It is embarrassing to keep having such an unsophisticated and romantic reaction to something as banal as trees but it's really something to see. My impression of forests growing up was that they were quickly being depleted, to a paltry 3% in my native Kenya at that time. Once, driving across the Kenyan-Ugandan border, I was stricken at the difference in the landscapes - Uganda's luscious greenery and well-fed livestock offering a stark contrast to Kenya's arid semi-desert and it's prehistoric looking Zebu cattle.

Juxtaposed to this memory of a less bountiful land, is the thought of the people who were at one time forced to turn this dense boscage into farmable fields. I think it was James Baldwin that had recorded having felt that this fertile red Georgia earth had gotten its color from the blood dripping down from these trees.

And here I am, an embodiment of contradictions and complicated convergences, empowered and frightened by this history that predates me and excited to see what my contribution to this narrative will be.

No comments: