I know I've said it before, but we are so blessed to be living where we are right now. It's like a gift that God has given us during these times of uncertainty. I have been trying to take time each day to just sit and soak in the beauty that is all around us. It really is a feast for the senses.
Everywhere I look, I see amazing displays of God's handiwork. When I manage to roll out of bed on time, I can sit outside with my coffee and watch birds, so many different kinds of birds, flitting from tree to tree or hopping along the ground gobbling up little bugs and other tasty treats. There are bright, metallic blue birds that I try to follow as they move from tree to tree just so I can get just one more glimpse of their shiny azure feathers and there are speckled woodpeckers with a crown of orangey red feathers on their head. There are so many different shades of green to take in; various trees and shrubs, each with their own hue, the grass in the yard that is a bright healthy green from being watered and tended daily and the tall grass out in the bush with its darker stalk and lighter head, swaying in the breeze. The sun rises too early for me to enjoy its first dawning, but I love to watch the sun set and see how it changes the color of everything it touches, including the zebra that have been camping out around us these past couple weeks. Their black stripes look so bold against the rest of their stripes, which can look white, yellow, and even pink depending on how the sun happens to hit them.
I smell smoke coming from a neighbor burning branches and bush a few farms away. The smell goes from light and pleasant to harsh and acrid as the wind changes direction. I smell my children, the sweet, salty smell of kids that have been playing hard for hours on end. The hot sun beats down all around me and makes the grass give off the scent of summer. I smell the sweet, somewhat overpowering scent of the marula fruit as they lay overripe on the ground. I smell flowers, their scent carried on the breeze; I recognize the scent of orange blossoms from when we lived in California and had orange trees in our yard; I also smell my favorite flowers, the white ones with the yellow center that I know not by name, but by their scent. On game drives I have smelled wild mint, a smell I remember from when I was 4 years old and our house in Roselawn, Indiana had small mint plants growing around the foundation. In line at the post office, I smell bodies, some sticky with sweat, some lightly perfumed, but it is a smell that has become welcoming to me the longer I've been around it.
My ears hear so many different sounds. I hear traffic from the tar road; fast moving busses, taxis full of people, cars and trucks passing through or going home. I know the sound of our car, with its diesel engine, before I even see it and walk out to open the gate for Darin as he returns home. I have heard the sound of birds in flight; their wings beating against their bodies, lifting them in flight. Have you ever listened to a bird as it flies overhead? It is amazing. When there are animals nearby, I listen to their sounds as well; hooves stomping on packed earth, the bark of an impala, the snort of a blesbok and the howl of a jackal. The wildebeest are always so skittish that they are bound to make a ruckus if they see you watching them at the watering hole. I hear the small, high pitched voices of children on the wind, and not only the 2 children living with us, but the little ones across the road as well. If I am listening closely and if the wind is blowing just right I can say "I hear Tshepang" or "That must have been DD".
I taste things as well. Sour plums growing on a tree near the fence and the sweet juice of the marula. We pick lemons and make a tangy glaze for cookies, or drizzle their juice on our crepes or put bright yellow slices in a cold cup of water. Amos brings me mangos from the trees at his house. They are smaller than the ones I am used to buying at the grocery store, but still so sweet as I eat the flesh right off of the pit, not even bothering to slice it up. I taste salt and vinegar seasoning, sprinkled generously on our French fries; a meal that we enjoy several times a week for both its ease and economy. I savor Cadbury Milk chocolate, so cold coming right from the fridge, yet warm and smooth as it melts in my mouth. I eat fresh garden tomatoes, beans and beets as well, planted by my daddy, with my kids, and now lovingly tended and picked by my husband.
I feel the rough bark on twigs as I bend low to scratch words in the dirt or teach the kids how to play tic-tac-toe on the driveway. I feel the wind as it blows all around me, carrying scents, lifting birds, rustling leaves. I touch flower petals, some paper thin, some waxy and smooth. I knead dough for homemade tortillas and baked fruit pies. I feel warm drops of rain, falling lightly and then sometimes just pouring down without a warning. I feel the warmth of Darin's hand, closed around my own, as we walk out to water the garden together before calling the kids in for bed. I feel the lock on the gate as I struggle to pinch it shut and sometimes I feel the poke of the barbed wire as my struggle increases (Don't judge me, I have little old lady hands). I touch damp laundry as it comes out of the washer and later, after it has been dried in the hot sun and warm breezes, I feel the sharp freshness of shirts as I give them a snap and then fold them neat. I feel warm pillowcases, and later, as I crawl into bed, I feel smooth, clean, sun dried sheets under and on top of me.
Mostly, I sense God and His presence all around. I hear Him in the wind, I see Him in the sunset pinking across the sky, I feel Him in the still air and I taste His Goodness in everything. I hope that in return, I can be a fragrant offering, a pleasing aroma to Him, who has abundantly blessed me with so many good gifts.