Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Keepsake #4.


I went to a birthday party on a crisp, clear night in July. I remember talking to a boy from New York. He liked my red boots and we both loved the same obscure band. I didn't receive the message with the dress-up code but later I discovered the houndstooth heart he'd pinned to my sleeve when he said good bye. There were vodka jellies and interesting truffles. The next day my recollections were a little hazy. 'ek hou van die storie van die kremetart in die nag'. (I like the story about the baobab in the night.) This text message from The Man With The Generous Heart at first confused and then reminded me of the story I had told him so excitedly.

I'd arrived home earlier that afternoon exhausted and fallen asleep to a soothing birdlife program on the tv - a David Attenborough-type voice with which to gently lull. When I woke up, that small seaside world had changed and become a jungle forest - from the top all dark green cover, with giant baobabs towering above all the other trees. My childhood memories of baobabs consisted of arid, red, dusty earth and single giant trees with strange fruit - like fuzzy grey sweet potatoes. These television trees were completely different - tall tapered trunks with vast bases for retaining moisture, glossy dark green foliage and foot-long flower buds. The flowers opened at night, the whole affair taking just one minute - the outer creamy petals splitting open and curling back to reveal dark magenta depths, more delicate petals and lots of stamens that corkscrewed madly about. Small nocturnal monkeys came out in droves to lick the nectar from the insides of the flowers. The smallest monkeys of all monkeykind, with bulging eyes, round ears and triangular pink tongues. All this licking, however, did nothing for pollination, so the next sitting arrived. Big hover moths. They flew in like fighter jets with fast whirring wings and pointed furry bodies.

The whole nature program disciplehood suddenly made sense to me - it was glorious to imagine these things happening somewhere else in the world, while I followed my little city paths. It awoke another brilliant memory - some years ago I picked a bud from a yellow balloon flower bush and put it in a glass of water next to the couch where I was lying and reading a book. I heard a small pop and saw movement from the corner of my eye. Breathtakingly, in an instant, the flower had opened, filling the room with the mysterious scent of otherworldly pineapples.

4 comments:

Chris said...

I saw you that night. and the red boots. :-)

Lily Turner said...

!! afterwards, at Marvel. The Dirty Skirts. I remember. x

Marie said...

Ek hou ook van die storie van die kremetart.

Like your balloon flower popping, Vince and I watched an evening primroses unfurl its bondage-like green bands around its pointed white bud, and burst open in about 6 seconds in the mountains of Lesotho, one early evening on a still path above a cold mountain stream.

Lily Turner said...

the stuff of koue rillings!