Afternoon sun shines on slate roofs. Front gardens sit neatly below small square windows, framed with frilly net curtains. There is no-one around. The quiet is disturbing but the dramatic view of a Rhondda Valley hill, rising up at the bottom end of the road, is breath-taking, as if it was just created, a universe being born.
I face the neat row of terraced houses, taking in every detail of the house where I was born. Imagine what it would feel like to open the little garden gate, to walk the short path to the front door, just as my mother did, starting her new life far from the comfort and security of her Irish home and family, but this was no refuge for her, creating painful memories that would blight her whole life.
The secrecy of net curtains. Watchers, waiting. Someone who still remembers. I cannot take the step towards the past, and yet, I capture this place of my beginning with my camera. It seems important somehow.
Kookaburra’s start the morning chorus, accompanied by the dove, bringing echoes of another age when the world was still young. The song is haunting. Michael says birdsong heals the world. He believes that birds sing every morning to redress the balance inflicted on nature by the wrong-doing of mankind. It’s a comforting thought. I believe he is right.
It’s still raining. Rain-forest trees drip onto broad leaves of banana plants, into muddied earth, to find again the narrow river that will carry the song in it’s gurgling. Above my bed, a huge fly slaps frantically against the ceiling, finally settling into the corner just above my head. Watching the now motionless intruder, I’m convinced it’s up to no good, planning a dive-bomb attack the moment I look away.
From the other room, a suffocating smokers cough. A spoon rattles in a glass, the medicinal drink is mixed, swallowed with a mixture of hope & distrust. He lights a cigarette and heads outside to taste the morning. The smell of tobacco seeps into my room, but I wait for a few considered moments before slipping on my dressing gown and slippers to join him on the wooden deck.
He is comfortably seated on the cushioned bench, smiling with the same happiness that I feel. I kiss his cheek, and together we listen to the rising echo of the waking rain-forest. The ethereal blossom of the Chinese silk tree, pretty in pink, catches me in surprised awareness. I’m not sure who is looking at who. Michael says nature is curious, watching and listening, just like us. He isn’t frightened of dying, he has a profound sense of excitement at realising the next step in the great adventure of his life. The basic survival instinct is manifested in his anger at corrupt governments, at wrong management of natural resources, and sadness, that so many people are blind or indifferent to the escalating deterioration of our planet, but his anger doesn’t last long, and there is no time for sadness.
Frogs call to each other. Birdsong reaches a crescendo. The narrow river below rushes past with purpose. Immersed in the oneness of all things, enraptured, we listen.