Watching Weather and Red Earth


By Eliza Deacon From up here you can forget that much else exists and your view of the world is only what spreads away down over tops of trees and the Maasai Steppe beyond; at the moment much of that is impassable anyhow after early rains. It would be all too easy not to leave this place and to become deeply rooted in the red soil along with the coffee, easy to become a recluse and slowly slip off the social calender until, in months to come, people wonder whatever happened to you---not such a bad thing really.

The farm grows slowly around us and the coffee seedlings---planted earlier this year---are now knee height or thereabouts. With a nod to the aesthetics of line and form, they are planted on the contours of the hills, gentle curves that owe much to good farming practice; there is something peaceful about following their lines and your walk always finds direction because of them, although the dogs pay them no mind and have yet to learn to tread softly around fragile roots.

I walk a lot these days, frustrations like lack of power (we’re not on the grid) resulting in lack of internet---not so crucial really, except for that lifeline to the outside world---are easier to handle when you’ve been up to the highest point on the farm and squatted down in the red earth letting the view take away often murderous thoughts. I’m trying to learn patience and that all things are not always solved by another glass of wine, when you’re at your limit but you can’t get off the farm, because ‘you can’t actually get off the farm’ as the rain has made the tracks too slippery and you’ll only wrap the truck around a coffee bush if you try. All these things are good. I suppose they’re lessons if only I took the time to remember them.

Our house sits in a wind tunnel and at night the wind howls down off Kilimanjaro and roars straight over the top of us. I now see why the back side of the house is largely without windows and also why we block up the hole in the back door at night with a wooden bread board. I’ve learned, with much cursing, how to start the old cable-pull-start generator for when we need power; two hands and a firm stance are what’s needed, it’s got a mind of its own and doesn’t like me obviously.

It feels far away here. It feels like we’ve left behind a life that was easy, yes, but a tad dull. Here the challenges are not insurmountable, it’s mainly funds---or the lack of---that are much needed, as with any start up project. Our farm, a small but perfectly formed 400 acres, might soon be joined by another 800 or so. You can see that farm on the hills bordering ours, higher up and often in Kili’s clouds; out of reach but perhaps not for much longer. We moved in in July, but already the days have blurred and I don’t think back to where we were; this place wraps itself around you very quickly. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever leave. I rather hope not.