Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where on earth we live

Our house lies on a busy-ish road, teeming with all manner and speed of human and animal traffic. Slow rusty bodas (bicycles fitted with a cushioned seat for paying passengers), motorbikes, minivan matatus busting at the seems with people and packages all compete with a steady stream of foot traffic and meandering herds of cows and goats. It's an interesting kind of chaos, but it's hardly picturesque. 

But it takes only a few minutes walk to enter some of the most astonishingly beautiful landscapes I've ever seen, rolling green hills dotted with small shambas growing a patchwork of crops.  Driving through the countryside literally takes my breath away and inspires all kinds of romantic notions of giving up modern life for what appears (I'm sure falsely) to be idyllic farm life. The land is literally overflowing with the most varied vegetation in all shades of green rooted in a rich copper earth. Looking at the scene, the words "lush" and "fertile" pop into your head, completely out of your control. 

Many places of natural beauty in the US are such due to their sheer dramatic expansiveness - monochromatic vistas of evergreen, large and imposing mountain ranges, and even oceans of corn fields.  But the scene here is an amalgam of all variety of tree, shrub, bush and farm all working in complex and beautiful harmony.  It's wild interspersed with tame, and the human footprint of shamba and storefront seems to coexist peacefully with the ancient and feral land.

Now, I know there might be environmental impacts that my lyrical musings miss, and I don't want to over romanticize what I'm sure is an arduous farming existence.  But I love that I can stare out a window or walk through shamba path and drink in the natural beauty that hasn't been conquered or controlled by and even seems to flourish alongside and as a part of human activity. This is not something I often experienced in the US.

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