The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Just because we could

Some days, wisps of memories force themselves out from some forgotten recess of my mind and play themselves out, like an old-time movie, before my eyes. They are happy memories; memories of childhood summers. And they are vivid. So vivid that I can feel the languid air of the fan as it gently caresses my warm skin. So seemingly recent, that my eyes are blinded by the silver light of mid-morning bouncing off of my white bedroom walls.

Outside my open window the cicadas sing shrilly to their hearts’ content; drunk on the heady heat of an unyielding sun. I can almost smell summer – that strange scent of dust and dry vegetation. I am staring at the ceiling, noting the strange patterns that the paint and the light seem to be conspiring to create on it.

It’s time to get up. But do I really want to? The hours stretch out endlessly. It seems like sunset is an eternity away. There are so many minutes to fill up. I gaze back up at the ceiling, thinking I can see the outline of a sheep in the furthest corner of the room. Perhaps it’s not just the cicadas who are drunk on the heat and the light. I can hear nothing else but their crazy, tuneless song but I force my ears to drown out their dizzying sound.

Now I am able to hear the clock tick-tocking away in our hall. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. How many more tick-tocks till nightfall? Maybe  I would stay in bed and count them, while conjuring up imaginary patterns on the ceiling.

Somewhere outside the cool, blue expanse that is the sea beckons and friends are impatiently waiting, anticipating a game of hopscotch or hide and seek. I could get up. I should get up, throw on a dress and start my day. Or I could lie on my entangled sheets and continue to count each tick. And each tock.

Just as quickly as it came, the memory fades. Ah, childhood, when time seemed endless and we wasted it by the bucket-load. Just because we thought it would last forever. Just because we could.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Down the garden path and into mystery

On the hill leading from Floriana to Pieta, there is a garden. The entry-way is so unobtrusive that you will almost miss it; and people seem to do so because, most days, it is empty. Even on a public holiday we were the only people there except for two other couples.
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It has a name, of course, but I like to call it The Secret Garden. My secret garden. Secret, because it’s almost always deserted and secret because my inquisitive nose has smelt out a mystery (or rather my writer’s soul has created one just for the fun of it; because it would be inconceivable for me to live without a little mystery in my life).
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It’s a leafy sort of garden with huge trees providing a cool oasis on the warmest of days. But sadly, it lacks flowers, except for the wild ones which grow out of the most unusual cracks and crannies. For some unfathomable reason, no one thought of planting flowers here; of coaxing rainbows out of the earth. But I have. Because in my most secret heart, I have made it mine and I would fill it with a riot of blooms and colours.
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For I would plant hydrangeas and arum lilies in the shaded spots and roses where the sun shines for a few hours and then hides its face. And geraniums of course, in the full light of the sun, because that’s how they like it and no Maltese garden is complete without them. Sunflowers, to follow the course of the shifting light. Rosemary, lavender and thyme for their glorious scent. Succulents at the edge of borders. Pittosporum to form fragrant hedges and bougainvillea, that hardy, quintessential creeper, that requires so little care and rewards us with buckets of blossoms. There would be water-lilies in the renovated pond and a frog or two or three but the carved lions would remain as they are now: pock-marked with age and weather-worn.
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I can see it so clearly. My wild, secret garden. With it’s five different levels and its carving on the walls and its stunning views and its crowning glory – a watch-tower from which to survey, well, everything. 
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There is so much whimsy here, from the military crests carved into the bastion walls, to remnants of statues and a miniature sculpture of the  Castle of Gibraltar (of all things).
This all-but-forgotten garden below a line of fortifications known as the Bastion of Provence, has it all; and then some. But it could have so much more. If it were mine.
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With a sigh I wrest myself out of my newest reverie and slowly walk down the garden path, out the doorway and into the world. For any wanderer’s soul, like mine, visiting this garden always feels like falling through the looking glass. There is something strangely ephemeral about it. A curious feeling that time ceases to be. That nothing is but what is not. So we will bid it goodbye for now lest I continue to wander in the land of dreams.
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And what of the mystery, I can almost hear you ask? Well, I think that for now we will leave it be, because mysteries tend to lose some of their lustre with the telling and some secrets have to remain just so. Secrets. Whispered by the breeze in the indifferent ears of time.
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Location: Sa Maison Garden, Sa Maison Street, Floriana (May 2015)


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