Shrinking Spaces

 I spent Christmas with extended family at my Cucu’s (grandmother’s) in the Aberdares. It was over really far too soon, but while it lasted we ate a lot of chapatis and meat, took family pictures using a selfie stick, and walked off all the chapatis and meat from lunch. Many of my cousins are really young, and it often feels like history is on repeat; when my sisters and I were young children we would visit our grandparents every December, and spend days on days running about in the endless fields of green, yelling across the hills– “Hello!”– and waiting to receive an echo of our message in return– “Hello-o-o-o”.

 Now we’re adults, and something that I’ve been realizing is that as one grows older (and larger) spaces start to feel smaller. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but I find that this applies especially when we’re talking about spaces that you used to visit regularly as a child. It always feels like this at my cucu’s– the gates, the sheds, the stream by the side of the road, the house, everything has grown smaller in the last couple of years.

With the exception of this one place. When I was really young, like five or six years old, there was a small piece of land by the road where the sheep used to sleep. At night they would be locked up here, and in the morning they would be let out to graze. And sometimes they would
get very close to the edges of the field and their coats would get caught in the barbed wire and in the morning you’d find small pieces of wool stuck caught in the barbs of the fence.

After a little while, the sheep were moved somewhere else and the piece of land became a garden for cabbage and potatoes. And then after that, tree seedlings were planted there. Over the years the seedlings have grown and grown, so that now, when we visit, while everything else feels smaller, the opposite happens in this field. You feel smaller, shrunken in size as you stand in the midst of sweet smelling towers of pine.

Merry Belated Christmas, and here’s to hoping you’re having beautiful holidays!

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