Teatime in Jo’burg

July 29, 2009

Teatime in Jo'burg

teatime, détail 1

Some years ago a friend sent me the manuscrit of a book she had just written. The novel unfolded in South Africa, a story of love and adventure in a vast and beautiful country. Men and animals were never far from one another as soon as one left the big cities.  Several episodes were set in  colonial houses at teatime. Peace and quietness on luxuriant terraces or inside cool rooms. All around the houses there was wilderness, unindentifiable sounds and cries, strong smells and traces on the soil that meant : animals were close.

This story my friend wrote stayed in my mind for a while. I lived in Central Africa for a few years and those sights she described were alive in my memory and brought back images I thought I had forgotten.

One day as I sat in my sewing room, I came across a pretty English fabric : teapots, cups, flowers on tables, the perfect setting for  teatime.  Then I had this idea of sewing  a quilt that would show my feelings as I read my friend’s novel.

It was not long before I found in my baskets of African fabrics all I needed to create my own story : Teatime in Jo’burg. A moment when animals would be even closer to men.

teatime, détail 2The main material was a green and golden batik I had bought in a women’s co-operative in Rwanda. The other fabrics came from various countries: Tanzania, Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Each with its own colour and symbols. A kind of United Colours of Africa.

It took me a few days only to sew the top, joining animals and cups of tea. My own version of my friend’s book. A quilt I truly enjoyed imagining and sewing.

Enchanting encounters

June 19, 2009

Walking in the forest, even if you go the woods  every day, does not always prepare you for the strange encounters you can do. I have noticed and admired these variations in all Seasons. Nature changes and so do trees, bushes,  anything vegetal. The light goes through various shades along the day and over the months. It is a never ending pleasure and surprise to see  today what you had not really paid attention to yesterday. So  it was with this strange “couple” I really saw on a Spring morning. How many times did I walk on this path and looked without seeing these two tree trunks on the edge of a pasture. Then all of sudden Spring had transformed them completely. In front of me stood two vegetal creatures. “She”, the Lady of the Woods, was particularly visible, slightly bent forward, her long disheveled hair falling on her back. I was stunned and just had to take this picture so as to be sure I was not dreaming !

the lady of the woodsAccording to the time and light of the day or to the weather, rain, frost, snow, the simplest forms of life look like magic natural sculptures.

forestdialWalking in the woods after the rain one day, I almost went head first into this spectacular spider’s web. At that moment it looked to me like a huge forest dial trembling in the light breeze, raindrops trapped in its threads like pearls. A magnificent view !

crinièreSometimes a noise or a slight movement makes you lift your head or turn around. Often you do not see anything. It can happen that your steps disturbed a bird or a lizard and you just hear something without seeing them. But at other times you meet some of the forest inhabitants. In this case  a horse grazing in a field at the edge of the woods was hidden by the tall grass Its white mane barely emerging. A real lovely, peaceful moment on  a hot Summer afternoon.

fox close-up

walk in the wood 2.6.07 031Some encounters are more surprising and really take you aback. This fox was standing on the side of the forest track, not more than 30m away from me. I slowed down hoping to take a picture before he ran away between the trees. But he would not move, he just stood there looking at me, maybe wondering if I was a friend or an ennemy. It was hunting season. I continued walking slowly towards him until I probably got too close  and all of a sudden he was gone !

A curious and lovely looking animal not rare

at all these days around the farms and houses in the village. Not always welcome. His cry at night is frightening. But I do love seeing one of them running across fields or in the forest,  tail almost as long as the body, elegant and rapid, glancing swiftly in my direction before disappearing in the wheat or corn fields.

Today I did not see any animal friend in the forest but I heard many ! It was right after the rain,  as the day started to grow dark. Birds were singing their late day songs so cheerfully, beautifully, competing with each other or just answering good night messages. This is my favourite moment for a walk into the woods. For the softness of the air, the unique light playing hide and seek between the trees and… for the birds songs of course.

light in the dark