Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A Transformative Moment

The luminously talented Steven from The Golden Fish has inspired his bloggy friends and followers from around the world to write about a transformative moment in their life, and post it today. He, too, will share his absorbing story with us, and will link us to other writers, photographers and artists who have written of a moment suspended in time which changed them, influenced or inspired them.

There have been many moments in my life – as I’m sure there have been for others – which have left me breathless with wonder and awe. Almost all of those moments still resonate somewhere deep in my heart and I have written of these encounters and adventures elsewhere on this blog, with an encapsulation of them in my first ever blog post – Shikamuu.   But I think the moment that held the deepest significance for me was during a safari with my sister and brother-in-law to Kenya’s fabled Jade Sea some 30 years ago now. Please, come with me as we journey to Lake Turkana……

lake turkana6

Set like a many faceted jewel into the arid desolation of Kenya’s northern frontier there is a lake of insuperable beauty. It is surrounded by volcanic boulders and purple hills blanketed by brilliant sunshine and star-bright nights. A hot dry wind stirs the sand into wavering drifts which veil the rocks and fill the water carved gullies that jut out like dragon’s teeth from the deep blue-green waters of a lake called Turkana.  Hemmed in by an apocalyptic moonscape of extinct volcanoes and towering ants’ nests, this inland sea whispers of legend and mystery.

The little Cessna banked steeply and we flew low over the water like a seabird seeking its quarry. Approaching the tiny cluster of bandas on the far bank, Ian waggled the wings to announce our arrival as the plane skimmed the makuti roof of the main building. Beyond the lodge the terrain spread wide and empty to the far horizon. A thick cloak of dust enveloped us as we landed and when it settled, Ian opened the door and we clambered out over the wing into the searing heat of a desert sun. The air thrummed with cicada song as I turned and squinted towards the fabled ‘Jade Sea’ which glistened with a sharply aqueous light in an almost surreal contrast to the ochre and blackened earth which spread away from it to the hazy purple mountains beyond. The cicadas stopped their cacophonous clamour abruptly as the throaty roar of the pick-up Land Rover gathered momentum and crashed its way over stony ground towards us.

lake.turkana

 

The water was deliciously cool against our burning skin as we slid, gasping, into its silky embrace. After a fast burst of crawl, we stopped and treaded water. I lay back and looked up into the blue expanse of sky where the pale slither of a ghostly moon drifted imperceptivity along its celestial path towards the night. Floating alongside me, Janie touched my arm and in a menacing whisper hissed “Here be croc-o-diles!” We shrieked simultaneously and a rush of adrenaline propelled us back to shore.

Wrapped in kikois we walked away from the lake and out into the scrubby desert. It was here, in this rocky wilderness that we met the Turkana herdsman with whom I swapped my bush hat for a dozen brass bangles. With no common language, we communicated with nods and smiles and laughing gestures.

offering1

It was a little later, as the sky turned from deepest blue through a paint-chart backdrop of bold reds, succulent pinks, soft mauves and moody purples to herald the night, that we realised with a transcending certainty that we were at the very heart of Mother Africa. I sat close to my sister in the flickering light of our campfire as we listened to the symphony of an African night backed by the gentle murmur of the lake breathing softly onto the shore.  For a moment my eyes caught the dance of firelight on the bangles given to me by the herdsman and then I looked up into the night.  It was at that precise moment that I knew that it was indeed possible to reach up and touch the stars which, here at the pulsing heart of this majestic continent, had gathered like a million dancers into the vast folds of darkness.  I knew, too, that I would never leave Africa.

night sky 

“It is never easy to keep reaching for dreams. Strength and courage can sometimes be lonely friends, but those who do reach, walk in stardust.”

So you see, dear bloggy friends, you can touch those stars. Yes, you can.  I promise you.

54 comments:

Merry ME said...

Beautiful.
Thank you for this message.

pink dogwood said...

Oh how I love this post - I fall in love with your art and writing over and over again :) Thank you so much for sharing.

Lorac said...

Wonderful! You brought me there to see it with you! Thank you.

Sarah Laurence said...

What a special in a beautiful place! I love the color of the lake and the contrast to the volcanic rocks. Glad to hear you escaped the crocodiles - yikes!

willow said...

(((sigh)))

Kay said...

to beautiful for any more words!!!

Holly said...

Your life...your life....oh, your life. I love that quote. I am going to steal it. No, I'm not, you gave it to me to use...so I'm going to do just that.

Hugs to you today.

NanU said...

Wow! I'm so glad to have found you and your beautiful blog.

The Bug said...

Exquisite! I spent some time in Zambia & dicovered that the center of the universe was NOT Hickory, NC (my hometown) - but was most likely somewhere on the road to Kariba...

Nora Johnson said...

What beautiful images!

xxLOL LOLA:)

steven said...

tessa!! oh i could read books of this. books!!! i love the way your senses reach out and draw in the details and then reassemble them into a whole - it's like painting isn't it. but you know what? my absolute favourite tiny piece of this tapestry of writing is the touch from janie. i was right inside that moment and would've screamed and thrashed as hard as i could to get to shore and been alternately furious and laughing. what a wickedgood piece tessa. thanks so much as always. steven

elizabethm said...

Wonderful piece of writing. I haven't felt so hot all summer long!

Lisa Holtzman said...

Your writing is magnificent. You paint the images with your words so well I can see even without the added visuals. Thank you for sharing your experience so beautifully!

Sid Smith said...

I almost caught that moment coming off those words. This is so beautiful. Thank you.

linda said...

this is too sacred to clutter with words~thank you for such a thoughtful post.

lakeviewer said...

More...Beautiful rendition. I too crave to experience what you experienced.

Eryl Shields said...

To think I nearly didn't click on the link to here on Steven's blog because my eyes are tired from staring at the scree for so long. Your lovely prose has made them feel much better than packing it in for the night would have. I must come back soon and see more of your story.

Barry said...

Beautifully written and powerful.

It reminds me of a night my family spent camping on the mountains in New Hampshire. One of my daughters needed to use the washroom in the middle of the night and when I opened the tent to escort her outside we were over whelmed by the blaze of stars in the night. In fact there were so many stars it seemed there was no room left over for the black sky of night.

That is a moment I will never forget.

Kathryn Magendie said...

What incredibly beautiful writing - you have a gift....spellbound...thank you.

breathtaking . . .

along with the images...ahhhh!

San said...

A moment of entrancement that altered your life. Pure magic.

Lola said...

...you definitely CAN, yes...

Once more darling Tessa you have brought tears of nostalgia and Love to my eyes. Thank you for taking me to the lake and for guiding me there with your poetic narration.

Photos are superb too...

Love,
~Lola xx

Beth Kephart said...

You are invincibly beautiful.

And I love the relationship that you have with your sister.

The Sagittarian said...

Oh just lovely! I love the art and the words that go with the art. I do recall one night in Australia a few years ago. My in-laws live in a remote part in northern Queensland, and we walked down to the local pub one night. On the way home it was quite dark but the stars were so bright, with no light pollution, they were almost within my grasp it felt that way anway. It reminded me of when I went caving once and the cave had glow-worms. Anyhoo, I was wandering along the road just staring up into the night sky, when my husband asked out loud if theere would be any snakes on the warm road? Well, talk about a thump back to earth! I think I may have run the rest of the way home.

INDIGENE said...

Wow! That was a fantastic voyage...I meant for me! Thank you for sharing it!

Little Ms J said...

Simply beautiful.

Delwyn said...

Hello Tessa

thank you for writing about this special place with such heartfelt language and feeling...

you had my legs covered in goosebumps with that feeling of interconnectedness that has a way and a mind of its own and reveals itself to us sometimes quite unexpectedly...

I touched the stars...


Happy days

Yoli said...

I am in tears, I cannot put into words what you have made me feel.

Ribbon said...

Awesome! :)

Ribbon said...

ps... your link to 'a golden fish' doesn't appear to be working.

karen said...

wow, how beautiful. Thanks for sharing the azure lake with us, and reminding us to touch the stars!

Carol said...

That was a stunning post!! Thank you for sharing it with us!!

C x

lucy said...

I love your story and I love the quote at the end. Can I use it? It describes where I am right now. Thank you.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Thank you for sharing that experience - riveting.

Reading your words felt like being bathed in warm healing waters. What a gift you have.

Nothing like the canopy of stars - and my guess is the canopy I have seen does not match the spectacle Africa offers.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Wonderful insights here. So many people, it seems, experience profound feelings when visiting Africa. I suppose as it's where humanity started, we are all just returning home.

Madame DeFarge said...

This sounds amazing and the photos are fabulous. I've never been to Africa, never really wanted to, but this just sounds so great that I could change my mind.

Titus said...

Tessa, that was absolutely stunning, beautiful words about an area that fascinates me because of its importance to the earliest origins of man but which I knew nothing else about. I am enriched by this, thank you.

Reya Mellicker said...

You definitely CAN touch the stars. In fact, we are stardust, mostly. Fabulous story of revelation and transformation. And indeed you never have left Africa, have you? I've heard that before - that once you go, it's never the same ever again afterwards.

Love your new format - it's spacious, like the lake and the sky in the images. Wonderful!

Renee said...

Tessa this is stunning.

You my dear friend are a beautiful gift from the heavens.

Love Renee xoxo

Renee said...

And what a sky it is.

I love you Tessa and thank you.

Love Renee xoxo

adrienne trafford said...

wow that's incredibly beautiful!

soulbrush said...

there is nothing as lovely as an african sky....sigh...thanks you for these lovely posts.

kj said...

tessa, when my daughter was very little, i would tell her that if anything ever happened to me, she could look up at the stars and i would be there, shining brightly, making sure she was safe and loved.

when i read your words and fell into your pictures just now, i remembered that moment in my own life, because you do that: you transcend the earthly and show how to reach for the heavens.

one day i think i will hold a book in my hands, by tessa edwards, and it will transform me again and again, every time i open it.

love to you tessa,
kj

Janna Qualman said...

The pictures and your telling are just beautiful.

Thanks for visiting Something She Wrote, and for your kind comment. :)

Tess said...

Hello *looking around* beautiful blog and wonderful post today.

I followed you over here from Janna Qualman's blog because your name caught my eye. Not many of us Tess' around (though I know you are a Tessa). Still, not very usual.

Lori ann said...

Tessa Dear,

Thank you for the magic carpet ride that are your posts. I know that everytime I come here my experiance will most surely be one of great pleasure and delight.

Your children post speaks to my heart, I couldn't agree with you more. I'm so grateful for the time and place where my children were raised and the fact that there wasn't alot of money so life was simple, and sublime.

Uganda. Oh my god. what a post, the photos, your words, I had chills, I know I would have loved it. It was amazing. You have SO many adventures!!

And then the Matatu's! hilarious. I've never ridden on one, they make me very nervous, but I suppose if I had to. I love the names painted on them. You ought to paint one. On a dusty road...

oh one more, Lake Turkana, a beautiful post. You don't ever have to worry about leaving Africa, She will never leave you.
Dear Tessa.

xoxo lori

kj said...

tessa, i'm back again. i couldn't help but reread and you know why? that last line. every word is a buildup to your last powerful line. lori ann says your blog is a magic carpet. indeed.

now, also, just wondering: blogland lane is humming with new residents. i assume you will be on the beach somewhere. your neighborhood "logo" is finding its way to many blogs. and i'm practicing TESSA!TESSA! IT"S KJ!

love from my corner to yours

Cynthia said...

Lovely...the tree highlighted against the landscape is strikingly beautiful. Africa is stunning through your clear appreciative eyes, Tessa. <3

DEB said...

There are people-eating lions, deadly snakes, scorching heatstroke days, and countless bug-born diseases in Africa. WAY out of my comfort zone. I can deal with the crime and hazards of American cities, but I WOULD leave Africa. But, you make me almost want to go there. Beautiful post!

Renee said...

I have come to ask you one specific question.

How is the book coming? The one you are the author of.

Love Renee xoxo

Maithri said...

I thank whatever hand flung those stars into the sky... that you are exactly what you are...

In all your tenderness, and vibrancy, and uncomplicated beauty...

Your heart is an open flower dear Tessa,

Blooming under a universal sky,

My love to you always,

Maithri

Val said...

travelling in the blogosphere is like touching stars. I always wanted to go to Lake turkana - one day........you write and paint so beautifully - you are a big shiny star. thank you

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Amazing post, stunning experience!
There's a little something for you over at my place... xx

William Wren said...

wow amazing

Polly said...

ah, you know, lately I came to realisation that some dreams are never meant to come true... but I also realised that it's possible to have a moment of complete bliss (like yours at Lake Turkana) even if not all my earthly dreams come true. that happiness may be still possible...