I'm a retiree in his seventies. That may not be significant to many, since there is a bunch of us Baby Boomers around. However, in the year 2,000, when I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, I expected to be dead in three to five years.
This may be the final post that I get chance to write for the Silent Eye… that decision has been taken out of my hands. I spent much of last week in hospital, having, as many of you know, been diagnosed with incurable small cell lung cancer last September. It has been an interesting and…
— Read on thesilenteye.co.uk/2021/02/28/the-last-post-2/
At seventy years of age, I have a veritable Library of Congress-size collection of memories to draw on. I can remember episodes of my life from the point my memory banks became operational to now. My memory provides comedies, dramas, documentaries, and a plethora of mental theatrical productions that Hollywood can in no way match for entertainment value. That old saying about seeing your life flash before your eyes when you’re about to experience a tragic accident couldn’t possibly be true. How in God’s name could all that I’ve experienced be flashed in a few seconds.
The year 2020 put a damper on so many memory-generating opportunities for people worldwide. Think of the number of weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries of all kinds, events of countless varieties we look forward to in the normal world, a world of predictability. Our chances to experience many of the fun things were removed from the menu and replaced with the darkest of experiences one couldn’t imagine before the pandemic came upon us.
The pandemic has in just one year changed things for the worse for so many people. It has caused us to access memories of events that happened not so long ago. For example, my family had one of the best family reunions in the summer of 2019. I blogged about it Familial – oldblessedwordpresscom. Many of us at that event, gathered for a Christmas celebration in Sierra Vista, Arizona at the end of 2019. My cousin Hansel lives in Sierra Vista. He and his wife Martha retired from California to Sierra Vista. They had been talking up the virtues of Sierra Vista for quite some time. It seemed like the perfect location to spend Christmas away from home. If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that Hansel and Martha were part of the gang of five family members who made the trip to Ghana, West Africa this past Christmas holiday season…another great memory-generating event.
Unfortunately, events that birth memories aren’t always joyful and pleasant to draw on at some point in the future. Scenes of bodies covered in temporary morgues, where the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll, are memories I would rather not draw on; however, they are in my memory banks and they will flash images on the screens within my head whether I wish to see them or not. The death of some of my own family members from the attack of Covid-19 on their frail bodies reminds me that all of us are probably in the crosshairs of this horrendous virus. What’s that old phrase? But by the grace of God go I. That phrase was quite personal a few weeks ago. Both Chris and I contracted Covid-19, but we’re now doing fine and I’m happy to report we don’t seem to have any long-lasting effects so many victims experience.
Memories. They contribute enormously to our lives. They allow us to rewind images in our minds, to review the building blocks of our character, to see much of what has made us what we are right now. A few days ago, the media started to report that the United States had reached a dark milestone. Five hundred thousand people had succumbed to Covid-19; 500,000 of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and other family members who have ceased to contribute to the precious memories of far too many of us. Considering all this darkness, I’m hopeful that you are, at the least, having those micro experiences that are loaded with joy. I am. When I see the faces of my grandkids; realize that Chris and I still here; or have a brief phone conversation with one of my siblings; my memory banks are charged with fun stuff. Think often about the good stuff that has happened!
I remember a few years ago when I first started to think about writing a blog. I was somewhat hesitant to start because I didn’t think I had anything worth saying. After much contemplation, however, I thought I would give it a try. After all, I had read many books that didn’t quite reach the level of quality I thought necessary for publication. If some authors were brave enough to deposit their work in the public domain for others to read, why shouldn’t I blog. Deciding on a handle for my blog wasn’t hard at all. I was in my mid-sixties at the time, and I had undergone a health challenge that many folks I knew didn’t survive. Old and blessed just seemed to fit.
If you follow my blog, you know I live in the state of Arkansas, United States. We have nice springs, hot summers, nice falls, and short winters that often don’t provide an opportunity to wear heavy, movement-restricting outerwear. Although I’m not qualified to offer a scientific opinion, I do think our winters have gotten a lot warmer since I was a kid. I distinctly remember wearing heavy jackets and coats in October and having them readily available for use through the middle of March. My grandfather had a rule: Don’t take off your long handles (underwear with long legs and sleeves) until the first of April.
As a kid, I welcomed with joy the snow days of winter. A good snow-day, with six inches of the white stuff meant no school and the opportunity to play outside. The warmth of the inside couldn’t hold me back from going out to frolic with wild abandon. I always applied my undeveloped skills at sculpting a snowman. He never looked that good, but the joy of playing in the snow was the point, after all.
Now, let’s move forward to February in Arkansas 2021. Today is Wednesday February 17 and it’s been snowing since Sunday night, except for the sunny day we had yesterday. Although the day was sunny, the temperature remained frigid, not allowing for any significant melting of the powder that had fallen before. It’s common in Arkansas for snow to fall one day and be gone the next, after being exposed to some of that good Arkansas winter sunshine. That hasn’t been the case this week though. It started snowing again last night, and it’s still snowing all day. The stuff is covering everything, and it’s forecasted to keep coming right on through midnight.
Unlike when I was a kid, I’ve been secured in the house praying that our electric utility company won’t have to start rolling blackouts. Arkansas just isn’t equipped to deal with this type of weather for extended periods. Neither I nor my dog wants to venture outside. I’ve noticed my neighbor’s kids just across the creek in back of us have been enjoying this strange weather anomaly. I think they enjoy the benefits of wild abandonment in a winter’s wonderland. What a difference a few score make. I think I really am too old to enjoy this winter’s blanket. I prefer the electric one we have stored somewhere. I hope I won’t need to look for it.
I remember as s boy, growing up in America, watching Tarzan movies. Movies about this white guy, raised in the wilds of Africa by apes, who somehow developed into this wise fellow. A fellow, who had smarts beyond those of all the dark-skinned natives who occupied the land with civilizations going back for millennia. Africa, as presented by Hollywood back then was this dark, uncivilized place with no demarcation anywhere; it was just Africa. There were wild animals everywhere. As white people on safari meandered through the bush, you would hear exotic birds making noises that would challenge those on safari to even hear each other.
Well, I just made my first trip to Africa, Ghana, West Africa to be specific. Having a keen interest in my ancestral home, I knew that even today the media doesn’t portray the continent of Africa in her finest. We often see images of animals in their habitats running freely. We also see people on safari experiencing the wonders of viewing animals that they might have seen before in zoos. Occasionally, we’ll see some image on the internet of some rich guy from somewhere in the West standing over the carcass of an elephant or some other precious large beast that had no chance of escaping the high-powered projectile from a high-tech weapon deployed to kill it. Images of Africa, so many images are yet distorted even today as they were during the 40s and 50s of the last century by Hollywood.
While visiting Ghana for ten days, I toured urban areas, traveled over long distances in rural areas. Guess what? The only wild animals I saw were birds. Of course, when it came to animals, I saw countless numbers of stray dogs, cats and many goats roaming freely. However, big game wasn’t even observable from the highways as we traversed miles and miles of rural Ghana. I think I’ve already mentioned in one post that even my tour groups trek through the Kakum National Park to access the canopy walk produced no sight of wild animals. We were told before we arrived at the park that there were elephants and other animals in the park; however, they stayed away from the view of visitors to the park. Walking up the trail to reach the canopy walk was deafly quiet to the point that effectual meditation could be had at any point along the way. No. There weren’t this chorus of bird sounds as heard on old Tarzan movies.
I have a friend from Ghana, who has become a naturalized American citizen. She mentioned to me some time ago, as we were having a conversation about countless misrepresentation the western media presents about Africa, that her only chance, as a child to see elephants, lions and other large animals was for her family to take her to the Accra zoo. Unfortunately, my ten-day tour of Ghana didn’t include visiting any municipal zoos, so I missed seeing any elephants, lions or other large beasts in Africa. I did see lots of people; people who were actively involved in the day-to-day challenge of working hard to provide for their families in much the same way as we do in America every day. So much for Tarzan.
I’ve got a sizeable number of pictures and a few videos of our trip to Ghana, December 25, 2000 through January 5, 2001. It’s been of a challenge trying to figure out what to write about and what pictures to share. I suppose I just need to do it. I think I’ve already started over the last day or so?
Ghana is a beautiful country, especially outside of the urban sprawl of its two largest cities Accra and Kumasi. Accra is the capital city located on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea. Kumasi is in south central region about 300 miles north of the Gulf of Guinea.
During our ten-day tour in the country, we took three relatively long bus rides: one from Accra to Elmina/Cape Coast; another was from Elmina/Cape Coast to Kumasi, and the final long ride was from Kumasi back to Accra before boarding our plane for the return trip to the U.S. via Amsterdam. These road trips gave me an opportunity to see the powerful imagery of the greenery that colors the country. Our bus trips took us on long stretches of rural areas. Although the areas were what I would consider rural, people were everywhere. It seemed every other mile of the roads we traversed had some small town with people on the roadside selling fruits and vegetables. Not only fruits and vegetables, but just about any other kind of items you could imagine. The Ghanaian people are quite industrious, making the best of any and every opportunity for commerce.
Let me get back to what the main purpose of this post is: to show you some samples of the Garden of Eden like quality of the countryside in Ghana. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
A few of the brave souls in our tour group and I posing for a photo after completing the canopy walk at Kakum National Park. Many of our crew decided to remain at Africa One Resort back in Elmina. The walk extends for more than 300 meters and includes a viewing platform and seven bridges up to 35 meters above the ancient forest floor. We were told that the forest is alive with animals; however, they stay away from the human invaders.
Chris and I trying to figure out the value of the local currency, as we shop at the Bonwire Kente cloth weaving center in Kumasi. It’s amazing the goods these craftsmen produce using ancient technology.
I’m going to be posting some pictures from Ghana. I’ll let them speak primarily for themselves. Here’s a shot of my cousin, Hansel and me discussing who knows what, while chilling at One Africa Resort in Elmira.