Monday, October 20, 2008

ilanga liyaqanda

I have a lot to do, but I feel like writing for a minute. Here's what's left of the trees in my backyard:

The weather right now is perfect, to me. Walking the colorful streets of Provo reminds me simultaneously of two wonderful places: Gweru and Manti. I can't specifically remember ever visiting Manti in the fall, which makes me think that I'm reminded of Manti by my remembrance of Gweru.

Gweru is the third or fourth largest city in Zimbabwe and is situated about half-way between Harare and Bulawayo. Crossing Zimbabwe from east to west, Gweru seems to be the last city before the authentic African savanna begins -- tall yellow grass dotted with Acacia trees. And if I were to pick one word to describe that city, it would be sleepy.

My stay in Gweru was the shortest of all the places I lived as a missionary. I stayed in Bulawayo from July to November, Harare until August, Lusaka until January, Harare again, then Gweru from May until the end of June -- just one transfer. As a result, the Gweru of my memory is in a permanent fall. And in that fall, I love retracing my steps and rides through Lundi Park, the Bata factory, Southdowns and Ivene. I miss talking to the members of the Church there, and I miss eating a half-loaf of bread with a sack of milk for lunch. I miss the relaxed life that they live there. I miss bags of biscuits. I wonder how Omega's doing. I wonder where George ended up -- I'll never forget the day that he literally gave me the shirt off his back. I wonder if I'll ever again get to taste one of those lemon-doughnuts from the bakery in town.

Mentally walking through Gweru (or Gwelo as it was once called) reminds me of Manti -- peaceful Manti. Small houses without sidewalks and old, tall trees. I love simple Manti. Life is so simple there.

I'm glad that I will forever be blessed with remembrances of Gweru when the fall comes around -- it's nice to remember a simpler time.

I've been flipping through the end of my mission journal and found this gem (from after I came home):
"I ... attended the Single's Ward. I didn't like parts of it, but it was mostly okay. The talks, all of them, were very well-prepared, but, let me copy down a thought I wrote in my study journal: 'Being intelligent can be a downfall because it draws the user of the brain to leave out the unintelligible feelings of the heart. Never forget your heart... Live by your heart.'"

Here's the street I live on -- just took this picture on my way home today:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

To stumps

This week, something happened that I never really thought would happen. In my backyard grow two enormous Lombardy Poplars.

They've been growing for (let's see... I think my parents moved there in 1979... so) about 29 years. The mathematically astute will note that my age lies to the left of the trees' age on a standard number line -- they've always been there as far as I'm concerned.

The two giants are the grown remnants of a family of dead-looking sticks, which arrived in the mail some 30 years ago. My mom planted several of the sticks along our back fence looking forward to a beautiful wall of leaves. My dad accidentally (wisely) mowed over all but two of them, foreseeing the wall of leaves annually becoming a lake of leaves to rake up. And the two became the poles for our hammock.

But last week, because they're beginning to die, they're chopping the trees down. I went over after one had already been half cut down. This is what's left:

I'm sad that the trees are going -- it's almost like they're part of the family. But that's the way life goes, I guess.

After saying farewell to the trees Saturday morning, I went hiking with some friends around Y Mountain. We started in Rock Canyon and came down Slide Canyon (to the South of the Y on the mountain).

The leaves were spectacular!

We only took two "detours." I'm really glad we took the second detour because it landed us in an enormous, deep valley. That's where this picture was taken:

and this grovey picture:

Val brought Buster, who buried several biscuits along the trail:

We had to move through prehistoric leaf-bushes:

There were bugs:

and flowers:

and logs:

and helicopters:

and sun:

We stopped for a picnic at the meadow just inside Slide Canyon. I had bought bags of fresh peaches and pears from a fruit stand on Canyon Road the day before, so I delighted on those, some graham crackers, Ammon's butter crackers, some cookies and a spoonful of peanut butter in the meadow.

And then we descended to the Y:

This is the first time I've hiked down the Y without having first hiked up it. My knees hate hiking down the Y.

After getting off the mountain, I completed my adventures with a trip to the French bakery on State Street. I had two wonderful fruit tarts. And later that evening I enjoyed a French movie, "The Chorus" at the International Cinema.

So the trees are gone, but life goes on. And General Conference is this weekend!