“Africa, your sufferings have been the theme that has arrested and engaged my heart. Your sufferings no tongue can express, no language impart.” (William Wilberforce)
See my paper “The Crisis of the Secularization of Society, What Africa has to offer the world: Implausibility structures and the deconstruction of defeater beliefs”, which you can read here.
Another damp and drizzly day in the North-West and I am longing for the desert …
“Sitting in the flickering light of the candles on this kerchief of sand, on this village square, we waited in the night. We were waiting for the rescuing dawn–or for the Moors. Something, I know not what, lent this night a savour of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang songs. In the air there was that slight fever that reigns over a gaily prepared feast. And yet we were infinitely poor. Wind, sand, and stars. The austerity of Trappists. But on this badly lighted cloth, a handful of men who possessed nothing in the world but their memories were sharing invisible riches.”
Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars.
An old classic quote by Sterling Hayden from his book Wanderer:
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea … ‘cruising’ it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
‘I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.’ What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of ‘security.’ And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”
Anvil Island is the studded gem of the Howe Sound. From the granite spire of Leading Peak (at 754m), you are treated to a superb 360 degree vista, leading your eye all the way from the Georgia Straight through the Sound right up the Squamish valley to towering Mt Garibaldi behind.
From Snug Cove on Bowen Island it makes for a 7hour testy adventure; a 30km paddling round trip through glacier-tinged waters, with an unnervingly steep hike in the middle.
The wind flags the faded prayers
No one notices
Except in passing a glance
At the known
Pray only for the unknown
Look across shrinking glaciers
Huddled in a hut
Alien the Priest of people
Solo climb the line with our eyes
Caress the cold iced cracks
Warm our hands
Feel the anticipation
Lets kneel and bow our heads
“The Cederberg is like no other place in South Africa, or even on earth … It is a unique world of fissured and cracked and crazed stone in every shade of ochre and sand and rose and rust. It is surrounded by mountain ridges like endless ranks of jagged teeth, and at sunset and sunrise, they light up in unearthly and glowing colours. It’s like another planet, one with a skin of stone, not soil. The sparse vegetation is specially adapted to this thirstland, and makes up one of the most rare floral kingdoms in the world. For a few short weeks in spring, every valley is carpeted with blazing indigenous flowers. Wherever there is water, a river or rock-pools, there is life: birds, lizards, small mammals, insects. At first, visitors may be disconcerted by the harshness and stillness of the surroundings; within hours, they fall under the spell of the Cedarberg; by the time they leave, they’re in love … it is truly a place of magic.”
Helen Moffat in Lovely Beyond Any Singing
More from Chris Jansen:
Clothes jerk and flutter
The wind cuts our bodies
Force the elation
Cold lava pierce fingers
Numb feet feel for toe holds
Noses drip freezing pearls
Irritated in the wipe
The rope tight
Hurry with care
Swallow the view
Inhale the exposure
Sheer drop down in breathless beauty
Our bodies struggle for comfort
Sleeping bags glued to the ledge.
(Comment: I have not been able to get hold of Chris, but I presume this poem reflects our bivvy at 5000m on Mt Kenya a few years ago. Good writing mate!)
Two sisters, two birthdays, lots of surprise balloons from a great friend, our favourite green field, some party guests, and there it was!
[Where are those balloons going?]
From Chris Jansen:
Mountains inspire awe in any human person who has a soul. They remind us of our frailty, our unimportance, of the briefness of our span upon this earth. They touch the heavens, and sail serenely at an altitude beyond even the imaginings of a mere mortal.
Elizabeth Aston, 2005