26 July 2007

The Blue Flower Mountain by Ivor W. Hartmann

The waning sunlight glimmered softly through tall ethereal gum trees that waved in zephyrs, crisp from snow capped mountains. A narrow red earth dirt strip road sliced languidly ahead into Fynbos foothills. A small blue sign fat nail hammered onto a termite mud encrusted crumbling pole, jutted out from the wild grasses roadside. Neatly painted in elegant white script it spelt out the name, 'Bloublommitijies Kloof', or Blue Flower Mountain.

I had arrived at the crossroads and wanted to fall down on my knees; beyond the sign lay my learning. But to the free and feral mountains lay the genuine urge to go truly insane, running naked screaming into labyrinth forests. To let the weight of five years of misapprehensions moulder me, curled into the forest floor. But the potential in the dappled roadway that curved down beyond the sign beckoned too strongly, life and curiosity called out and won the clash. I heaved up my worldly possessions and guided freeway tired boots past the sign, down under the cathedral creaking silver boughs and thin whispering leaves. A swift versant dusk blossomed shadows rapidly encircling my footsteps, crunching down the loose scree road.

In the gloom I smelt the cows first; a burly spicy musky scent that boldly slapped, stripping the closer pungent wafts of wind bruised eucalyptus. The long steep roadway finally unfurled into an infinity vaulted sky, wreathed in a rural bright blast of stars. Stretched beneath me, bathed in incandescent silver silhouettes that melded together into a single sinuous ribbon, that twisted, gurgled, laughed and burbled its way northward down the centre of a wide deep valley. Dim hulking trees, lent bent and elbowed arcing over its three mile course before it plunged into a strict, pine stylus stabbed horizon. The pine stretched from a dense scribble to the valley summits on either side, and then ranged in thick formal swathes along skyline, to embrace and frame the whole valley. To the side of the stream, elbow nestled near the far pine. A raised dam with tall crowds of sharp leafed reeds that stirred each other in gentle waves around its faint star pointed, shimmer and ripple.

I walked near the night cloaked and enclosed, gum pole tin roof byre from which crescent flashes of doleful thick lashed eyes, surveyed my passing with a ruminating punctuation shake at my new scent. They were the first to greet me in a string of low contented groans, which bubbled from behind cud soaked teeth that shuffled back and forth, methodically as a seasoned Hemingway punching out, The old man and the Sea.

The tang of hidden firelight tickled the back of my throat, and I could hear the laugh of distant children and the slapping of their bare feet. With a loud clank of metal on wet concrete, light shot outward and revealed an open inside milking parlour dotted with fresh piles of steaming manure. From an inside doorway came a thin lean but skin wizened man with a large afro and green overalls. He waved as I went past and greeted me with a language I could not understand, but I waved back and greeted him, and his eyes sparkled with the excitement of something new and we were together in that moment.

Treading past the remote winking of open firelight's, I could see dark moving forms gathered around that ancient warmth. Following the road around another twist, I came between two Cape Dutch style houses, which shined fresh whitewash luminous, high above me in edge cornice fluted scrolls. Green lined wooden shutters cast thick yellow lines in the settling evening dust from behind them, came muted guttural conversations and the culinary chink and clatter of dinner.

The gardens took me by surprise, a wealth scents assailed me from behind a whitewashed wall, braced and heaved by close growing tree trunks, which creaked ever so softly and tenderly swayed their branches. Further I could not see, but a riot of subtle and not so, bountiful thick vegetation aromas wrapped around my shoulders and lingered like a cheeky schoolgirl whispering what lay beyond.

In the gloom again a far light beckoned, slowly it began to illuminate a low green roofed cottage framed with vigorous vines and herbaceous borders. A low quick bark and then a rush of padded sprints, a pack of black and white collie dogs led by a unusual rusty red and white. His eyes shone an island sea blue in the vivid contrast of his colouring; he boldly went right to my hand and sniffed for my instant character reference. Satisfied he yipped and began to circle around and the others dived into that same circle, smelling, licking and generally checking, if he had been correct in his assumption.

The collie dogs twined beneath my feet before disappearing back into the night, and I reached and knocked on a dark green stable door. Mischievous looking clay fairies, with rainbow silk wings twisted and turned, suspended on pins around the doorway. The door opened to a tall and slender man with black hair cropped and a well trimmed beard, clad in jeans and a navy blue jumper. He had arctic blue eyes and a twinkle that matched his warm and open smile. I had arrived and been welcomed at every step of the way that led me to this door, and this man was the force behind all that and the lands surround. He brought me into the brilliant light of his kitchen and poured me home-brewed ale to wash the travel dust from my dry mouth. I felt it then from within before that first quenching gulp, warmth that took me by surprise, a familiar feeling, that sense of coming home.

Together we would sweat and bleed, together we would grow to understand; each other, this land, this communal spirit infused into every rock and root. We would become respecting teachers and learners of each other, the people who lived in, and passed through this valley. That light of kinship would jump from spark to flame to long fireside conversations, that would make me realise, that there was no choice down at the crossroads, no need to fall down on my knees. In the days ahead I would recapture my own sense of eternal essence. So when today I walk the road, I remember how it started, at Blue Flower Mountain, from the darkness to the light.

The Blue Flower Mountain was written by Ivor W. Hartmann.

Copyright © Ivor W. Hartmann 2007

Ivor W. Hartmann, is a Zimbabwean writer. He is the author of Mr. Goop (Vivlia, 2010), and was nominated for the UMA Award (2009), and awarded The Golden Baobab Prize (2009). His writing has appeared in African Writing Magazine, Wordsetc, Munyori Literary Journal, Something Wicked, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly, amongst others. He is the editor/publisher of StoryTime, and co-editor/publisher African Roar, and on the advisory board of Writers International Network Zimbabwe.


Colin said...

Hi Ivor

Very descriptive and strangely moving. It almost seems more of a poem than a story.

If I could offer one little criticism, perhaps consider using fewer adjectives. Not every noun needs an adjective.

Sarudzai Mubvakure said...

The perfect opening scene to the movie - Blue Flower Mountain!. I would certainly want to watch it as i would be curious to find out how the 'young man' was brought from darkness to light.

Blue Flower Mountain sounds like a beautiful place. As 'he' said, gives you the sense of coming home. The dogs knew him and the man at the house knew him. I suppose the journey from darkness to light would be, for the 'young man', a journey of self discovery - maybe !

Blue Flower Mountain - a picturesque piece of writing!

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