Dear Family and Friends,
Yellow might be the colour of cowardice but as January came to an end,
it would be more appropriate to describe yellow as the colour of
foreboding in Zimbabwe. After a month of almost daily rain in which
many places received half of their annual rainfall in less than thirty
days, it was with considerable trepidation that the view from the
window was contemplated when the heavens finally dried up.
In urban areas roadside maize planted illegally in any and every open
space is a contradictory hotchpotch of disaster and bonanza. People
who had built up contours around their little self apportioned plots
and added compost, fertilizer and mulch are smiling all over their
faces. Their maize is towering, the leaves dark, glossy green and cobs
full and ripening.
‘Help yourself,’ a man said when I complimented him on his crop.
One cob was selected and snapped off, not too big that it would be
tough, not too small that the kernels wouldn’t be sufficiently
formed. It took only a couple of minutes to cook, the leaves getting
paler and thinner as they were peeled back to the centre. The mouth
watered and fingers burned as the fine, soft yellow silks that lie
between the lines of plump, juicy kernels were picked out; a few
smears with the butter knife, salt, pepper: heaven.
Right next to this bounty are the little plots of people who planted
and ignored: no compost or fertilizer, no cultivating and worst of all
this year, no contours to save the soil. Incessant rains have left
these squares heavily washed, any goodness long gone, the plants
yellow and scrawny, some trying to promise a cob or two, but most
failing and flailing in the breeze.
Then there’s the view from the country window, the roadside farms.
Oh my word what a fearful foreboding this sight gives for our country
in the coming months. Almost everything looks to be too late. People
were still planting maize after Christmas and into early January, too
late in the best of seasons. Then the heavens opened and the rains
didn’t stop for three or more weeks. Instead of being head high and
with their flowers waving in the wind, the maize plants are barely
calf high, in some places ankle high, and almost everywhere it is
pale, sickly yellow, you can almost hear it pleading for a few
handfuls of fertilizer but it’s too late.
Away from the depressing little squares of yellow and trying not think
where our broke government will find the money to import food needed
to replace these failed crops, spirits lift at the glorious natural
yellow everywhere else. In the wild open spaces that we collectively
call ‘the bush,’ there’s an explosion of yellow in the carpets
of wild flowers. In some places it’s a bright, dazzling yellow and
in others it’s a quiet, soothing, ‘mellow yellow,’ as hypnotic
as the song of the sixties. And for those lucky enough to be in the
right place at the right time, there are exquisite pure yellow flame
lilies trailing in the grass, climbing up the rocks, waiting to be
discovered and admired, just breathtaking . Until next time, thanks
for reading. Love cathy. 2nd February 2013.
Copyright Cathy Buckle.
For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and
Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent
Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of
the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe to
Cathy’s letter, please visit the website or contact [email protected]
See other recent posts from Cathy Buckle
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