Today I’m writing over at SheLoves with The Sun Will Yet Praise Him.
What is summer like, for real, in Djibouti?
Annie Dillard can describe heat and light and the curve of a leaf and the legs of a moth with stunningly intimate detail. I read a paragraph in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, underlined it and said, “How does she know?!” How could she know exactly what summer was like, what heat was like, what the desert was like? She challenges me to practice descriptive writing.
One example (with my scribbled note):
“There is nothing to catch the eye in this flatness, nothing but a hollow, hammering sky, a waste of sedge in the lee of windblown rocks, a meager ribbon of scrub willow tracing a slumbering watercourse…and that sycamore.” Has she been to Djibouti? Change the sycamore to an acacia and voila.
“It is the time of year when a honeybee beats feebly at the inside back window of every parked car. A frog flies up for every foot of bank, bubbles tangle in a snare of blue-green algae, and Japanese beetles hunch doubled on the willow leaves. The sun thickens the air to jelly; it bleaches, flattens, dissolves. The skies are a milky haze – nowhere, do-nothing summer skies. Every kid I see has a circular grid on his forehead, a regular cross-hatching of straight lines, from spending his days leaning into screen doors.”
Who can read that and not say, ‘yes that is summer’?
Beware Dillard fans, this is nowhere near her brilliance. It is stumbling in the dark and it is a feeble attempt to enter you into our Djiboutian summer and at the same time have you say, ‘yes, that’s what summer is like’ whether in Canada or Djibouti or…
Here’s an excerpt:
The city is quiet, the days heave. The library closes for July and August. Water and electricity cuts increase. Bunches of bananas hang over empty tables at produce stands. Then the bananas are gone and the vendors drape burlap sacks over the tables until September. Parks open only after dark. There are no empty parking spots at the airport, few available tickets out of Djibouti. Rows of empty seats on airplanes coming to Djibouti…
Read the full essay The Sun Will Yet Praise Him here at SheLoves.