Posted tagged ‘Ghana’

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”

January 30, 2017

I woke up in the darkness of this cold early morning. I believe winter is most defined by cold darkness. I can hear the heat trying to blow away the coldness of the house. I am sleeping on the couch: actually, we are sleeping on the couch. Gracie is better, but this is the easiest way to keep an eye on her. I heard Maddie running up and down the stairs and across the floor. I wondered why, but cats aren’t easily explained.

When I went to get the papers, I gasped from the cold. I saw my windshield was coated in ice. I think that’s the first time this winter or maybe I missed the other frosty mornings by sleeping in late. The brown grass on my front lawn also had a coat of frost. Winter has made a grand appearance.

In Ghana, in the Upper Regions, this time of year is the harmattan. The days are hot and dry. The wind blows sand which obscures the sun. Day after day is the same. The nights, though, are wonderful. The temperature drops to the low 70’s which doesn’t sound cold, but the days are over 100˚ so 70˚ is chilly. I had a wool blanket on my bed to keep me warm. My students wore layers in the morning. My lips chapped and my heels cracked from the dryness, but feeling cold for a while was worth all of that. I just have to remember that feeling, that love of the cold, when the frost has to be scraped off the windshield, the house heat is blasting, I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm and an afghan on my knees is comforting.

Gracie and I are going out today. She will wear her coat for the first time this winter. I’ll just wear my hoodie.

“I believe in dressing for the occasion. There’s a time for sweater, sneakers and Levis and a time for the full-dress jazz.”

January 27, 2017

When I woke up and looked out the window, I saw a sunny day and a blue sky. The thought I might be dreaming crossed my mind, but I wasn’t. It is a lovely day, a bit chillier than it has been but still quite lovely.

Gracie and I are going out to do errands. My imagination has both of us shielding our eyes from the sun as if we’ve been living in a cave.

I have a list of places to go and things to buy. Gracie, as always, will be my co-pilot. Her favorite place is Agway. They give out free biscuits.

My return to Star Trek Voyager is almost over. I am watching the final season. Science fiction right now is far more hospitable than the real world.

When I lived in Ghana, it was during the birth of the Second Republic. The army had overthrown Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. They called it Operation Cold Chop. I love that. Chop is food in Ghana and roadside chop bars were the places to eat. We used to get food just about every Sunday from a chop bar in the lorry park. Anyway, the CIA backed coup   was for a multitude of reasons, one of which was Nkrumah’s close ties to Russia.

I used to love to watch the lobsters swimming in their tank in the front window of the fish market. I remember the guys behind the counter wore white aprons with bibs. They sold fish fillets from a display case. I didn’t care about the fish. Back then, the only fish I ate was tuna from a can.

I used to wear dungarees lined with flannel when I was a kid. Girls’ dungarees had a zipper in a front pocket. I wore blouses. If I got cold, I’d put on a sweater, a cardigan. Mostly I wore white sneakers. My clothes weren’t very colorful. They were heavy on the blue. I think every girl my age wore the exact same outfit.

My brother wore dungarees and striped jerseys. He even wore dungarees all summer. He wore white, high top sneakers, Converse sneakers. Mine too were Converse. Every boy his age wore exactly the same outfit, including Beaver Cleaver.

Last night I had a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for supper. I would have used Marshmallow Fluff instead if I had any. My supper choices are quite limited. It’s time to shop. I’m keeping a list in Alexa. I just added Fluff.

“Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.”

January 26, 2017

“Rain, rain go away come again another day.” When I was young, I thought this nursery rhyme had a bit of magic about it. If I sang it enough times, the sun would reappear, and I could go out to play. I’m singing it now with the same hope. It has been raining since Monday. The sky alternates between angry clouds and greyish white clouds. The rain is sometimes heavy and other times just a fine mist, spitting rain my mother use to call it. I saw the sun for an hour or so the other day. It gave me a bit of hope.

I do a couple of house chores every day. Yesterday I watered plants, changed my bed and paid my bills. I haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t wanted or needed to. Tomorrow, though, I have a list of errands so Gracie and I will hit the road. Maybe if I cross my fingers and wish for sun, it might work.

When I was young, I had snow boots but not rain boots. Nobody I knew had them either. I also didn’t have a raincoat or an umbrella. I always got wet. It was the usual thing.

During the rainy season in Ghana, I got wet. Sometimes I had to run from my house to the classroom block when the rain was heavy, but I didn’t mind. The rain was always welcome. I’d even shop in the market while it was raining, but if the rain got really heavy, I’d stand in the doorway of a building or inside a small kiosk until it lightened or stopped. The rain was a gift to make crops grow.

I love the sound of rain. Even when I was kid, I loved the rain beating on my bedroom window. In Ghana the rain on the tin roof of my classroom was sometimes so loud that I couldn’t teach, but I could fall asleep listening to the rain. Its steady beat was comforting in a way, amost like music, maybe even a lullaby.

“Colder by the hour, more dead with every breath.”

January 15, 2017

This morning I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was 9:15 when I first woke up. Considering how late I went to bed, I figured it was too early to get up so I snuggled under the covers and went back to sleep. I slept until 10. Maddie started howling. Gracie was snoring. I decided the bed was too warm and I was too comfy so I went back to sleep. It was easy. I slept another hour so it was close to 11 when I dragged myself out of bed. I have no guilt at sleeping the morning away. I have no obligations, no errands and no chores though I could do a laundry, but I won’t.

Last night I want the Patriots beat the Texans. It wasn’t the Pats best game as Brady was intercepted and sacked, but my Pats prevailed. The game started late, 8:15, and ended late so my friends and I decided to make it an evening. First, we ate Chinese and played Phase 10, our favorite game. I happened to win. Clare and I alternate winning. Tony hasn’t won since last March. We’re planning a gala for his anniversary of one year without a win. He isn’t looking forward to the festivities.

It was cold last night, 24˚, so today at 34˚ feels warmer. The low this evening will be 19˚. When I lived in Ghana, it was hot and dry in January. It was harmattan. Dust blew over everything. The sun was obscured. Rain was months away. My candle melted without being lit. The water was often turned off. I took bucket baths, and I had to take a few before I got the knack. I got good at it.

During Peace Corps staging, a time when we all came together for nearly a week before leaving for Ghana, I was asked if I minded going to the north. My response was to ask why the question. What was it about the north? The psychologist asking the question didn’t know the answer. I told him I didn’t care where in Ghana I was to be posted. That settled it. I went to the far north, the Upper Region. I even knew before I left staging I was going to be in Bolgatanga. The remote posting areas were filled first. That was Bolga. That was the place with a long dry season when days reached 100˚ or more. I think of that this time of year, the coldest time of year here in New England, but if I were given a choice between the two, the hot, hot dry days or the freezing days and nights, I’d chose the cold. I couldn’t escape the heat, but I can always bundle up to escape the cold.

“I fear thee not, O untried morrow!”

January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Today is far too warm for January, the mid-40’s. It is truly sweatshirt weather. I’d be disappointed if I were a kid who got a new sled for Christmas. This is new bike weather.

When I was in my 20’s, I wore dresses or skirts and blouses to work. After work, I lived in flannel and denim. My friends and I didn’t need an excuse to party. Cheap wine, some chips, and a bowl of onion dip were all we needed. We often went to Friday happy hours. I can’t remember a weekend when we didn’t get together. I was young.

I’m older now and I’m thinking life just happens so my plans for the new year are simple. My dance card is mostly empty. I’ll survive the winter with good humor even if it snows. We’ll do summer movies on the deck. I’ve bought a few already. I’m thinking a lot of grilling. I’ve been saving recipes. I have no travel plans except for my yearly visit to New Hampshire.

I watched 2017 arrive last night. I wanted to make sure 2016 was gone for good. It wasn’t my favorite year though I do have some wonderful memories. My trip to Ghana tops my list. Way back in 1971 when I left Ghana, I had hope I would return, but I could never have guessed how wonderful that first return would be, and that there would be multiple return trips. Bolga is my familiar Ghanaian home again. I shop in the market, eat all my favorite Ghanaian food, and spend time with my former students. Traveling with my friends Bill and Peg this September brought back old memories and made new ones. I figure I have been amazingly lucky to have had such friends. When I was young, I hoped my life would be filled with adventure. It has been and now I have a new year to fill with more.

“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories”

December 29, 2016

Cape Cod will get rain and high winds but no snow, but I didn’t need a forecast. One look at the sky was enough. It is a storm sky, dark and foreboding. The wind is starting to pick up a bit, but we won’t feel the brunt of the nor’easter until tonight. Meanwhile, I’m staying home. I’m staying comfy.

I woke up so late this morning I am embarrassed. This weird sleep cycle has to be broken. I stay up until one or two or even three and never wake up until some time after ten. I figure I’ll have to set my alarm for an early time in the morning and then hope to fall asleep before midnight.

I still light my Christmas tree every day although it is getting dryer and will so enough have to come down. The house always looks so empty and dark without the tree. It brightens even the deepest and darkest winter nights.

I always expect the new year to be better than the old. I know nothing around me changes too much but everything I saw, whatever I learned and anybody I met makes me more than I was, makes me a bit better than I was.

The highpoint for me this year was my trip back to Ghana. My friends and I had the most amazing time. We saw elephants walking around our chalets just nonchalantly stopping and stripping trees of their leaves while we stood close but still a safe distance away. We saw our former students almost every night in Bolga. We ate our favorite Ghanaian food. We went shopping on market day which was always my favorite day. It was a trip of highlights.

I don’t need a whole to keep me happy. Summer movies and Sunday game nights are never boring or tiresome. We loved sitting on the deck on a summer night with a small breeze keeping the evening comfortable. We laughed at all the bad black and white B movies we saw. One of my favorite creatures was the giant spider scaling the wall of the skyscraper. On Sunday it is Phase 10 and Sorry. With Sorry, just as you think victory is yours, your man, right next to home, gets knocked off back to start. That’s when someone always says  I hate this game.

I’m going to do laundry today, and that’s it. Gracie and I went to the dump yesterday, and there were so many cars, you’d think they were giving something wonderful away. Gracie’s head swiveled.

Now it’s time for lunch and the rest of the lazy day!

“Life is a fairy tale. Live it with wonder and amazement.”

November 22, 2016

Last night was winter. It was cold and windy. My sweatshirt wasn’t quite enough. North of us got a little snow. Thankfully, we were spared. It’s bad enough the temperature is below freezing without adding snow. Today too is really cold. My heat is blasting.

For some reason, the first few days of Ghana popped into my head from my memory drawers. We were all staying at a school in Winneba. The only view of the town was from the second floor balcony of the dorm. I could see rusted metal roofs and palm trees. That was it. It could have been many places, but on the way to my first language class, I saw geckos scurrying away from me. They were green and the first ones I’d ever seen. I remember looking at them and realizing I really am in Africa. It is one of my most vivid memories. I can still picture where I was standing. I remember the whitewashed cement wall about waist high, its flat top and the greenery close to the building and the steps. The wonder of that moment is something I haven’t ever forgotten and is still a delight. Just imagine being in Africa.

I have a few things to do today so I have to brave the cold. This is Gracie’s favorite time of the year because she can ride with me. It’s cold enough that she can wait in the car.

I got a notice for jury service yesterday. I’ve gotten them before and was dismissed three or four times and excused once. For one dismissal they kept us until after lunch when we were told the defendant had taken a plea bargain and we were not needed. That was like a Law and Order moment. Only once did I get so far as to be questioned about my suitability for the jury. I was excused. Come to find out I was excused because I was a school administrator, and the trial centered on some sort of discrimination surrounding the non-rehiring of a female administrator. I guess the prosecutor figured I’d be sympathetic. He was right.