Transformation in Nature


Burnt pieces of tangerine peels lavished with the scent of Christmas baking, smouldering bright burning coals in the heat of a fire pit, the polished sparkle of gold jewellery in an Arabian souk – enticing would-be brides, the flashing mesmerising seduction of the movement in a flamenco dancer’s skirt, the delicate powder of solid connection and seven-lifetime’s of commitment sprinkled on the hair parting of a married Hindu woman, the dull yet seemingly living crumbled rust on an old piece of discarded scrapyard metal, the delicate almost anonymity of lightly coloured candy floss and the unmistakable vibrant emeralds that seem to sparkle like the lushness of Ireland from the air.

A cacophony of oranges, bright hot yellows, velvety-rich browns and russets, deeply congealed reds, the playful innocence of light pretty pink and endless but distinctly different greens that play games with my minds eye.

This is the start of the transformation that is caused by the intoxicating rainy, hot, post-dry season in Chunya, Tanzania.

Welcome moments of relief mark the landscape, like a long awaited lifelong friend that finally graces your home and brings new energy and life.

With every drop of rain a new creature blesses the surrounds, each with fascinating beauty – cerulean blue butterflies, giant moths with transparent wings that look like delicate lace, bright blue and orange lizards that chase smaller grey and yellow playmates, shiny armoured black beetles that constantly find themselves on their backs with fighting little legs hoping to somehow get turned over so that they can scurry along with their activities.

Seasonality is different here – but it is just the way it is supposed to be. Not the familiar or distinct four seasons from most children’s storybooks. Rather the seasons here are two parts of the endless African narrative – the two sides of the same coin that dictate life in rural villages throughout the heart of the mother continent.

I am struck by the difference in Chunya, and how the western hemisphere and largely developed country chronicle of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter doesn’t apply here. The trees began to let out tiny signs of life just before the rainy season – like they knew when the rains would come. Tiny shoots of green like the colour of fat juicy green caterpillars in animated movies.

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The rainy season also heralds a sudden burst of autumn, as some trees move from russets to green. Entire hilltops bare witness to skeletal grey silhouettes transformed by honey coloured canopies that look like fur coats. And seemingly in the time space of the blink of an eye, these warm fur coats are quickly changed into rolling paintings of luxurious green splendour. This autumn in reverse, that heralds life and newness from oranges and browns has made me think differently and motivated me to write this piece.

Everything sounds different too: hoards of sun beetles fill the air with incessant chirping, complaining hornbills echo their observations to an boundless menagerie, footpaths come alive with the sound of invisible movement in the surrounding grassy patches, even the bark of the guinea fowls sounds happier.