Our truck was unloaded last night. Together with various electrical appliances for the house and a large bucket of chin chin – basically biscuit dough rolled pencil size, chopped in short lengths and baked – we brought at least a half gallon of fresh organic honey with us in large screw top jars. It has a very distinctive flavour, with a heavy hint of wood smoke, and is added to the morning coffee and just about anything that needs sweetening.
I’m keen to get started with sketchbook entries, so after coffee I step out the side gate into Ilobu Street, a dirt track leading down to a grove of fruit trees and houses before turning this way and that down to the main road. There are small goats and tagged chickens (it’s bad form to steal someone’s chicken) here and there, freely wandering wherever they please (this is true of busy commercial streets also), and the already ubiquitous agamas warming themselves on the track ahead. Large butterflies glide and flap low across my path from flower to flower.
I take a chair out to sketch the lane, drawing attention from the teenagers in the house opposite, who gather round and watch, no doubt a little bemused why anyone would want to spend time drawing their everyday view.
Here, ‘Auntie’ Sade appeared returning from shopping just in time to be included in the sketch. The rustic poles are all at angles, with the wires under little tension. In front of the banana tree are concrete blocks ready for building to start (block making is a common roadside business). In the middle distance is the grove of fruit trees; tangerine, orange, kola nut and paw paw. In the distance are buildings towards the main town.
A few days later I strolled down to the grove and sketched the grapefruit and melon-sized paw-paw fruit. A black kite passes lazily behind. Back at the house, after several attempts at pronunciation, Auntie Tanimauwo corrects my spelling of the Yoruba name for paw paw bottom left of the drawing.
I realise that I’m going have to go with the flow a great deal here, and to avoid visual overload, “a large brown and white butterfly” or “small yellow flower” will suffice…
all that pouring over field guides will have to be another trip entirely!