Saturday, May 31, 2008

Icarus dreams

One year, I lived in an apartment block nestled in a valley of sorts in the Northern Range. The view from the porch was a spectacular close up of Cumberland Hill and the various crowning antenna. Many a rainy night, with most of the lights turned off, Dog and I would curl up together in the arm chair lodged in the midst of the potted plants, the porch just wide enough to sit, have an occasional draft of wet but not get wet. There we'd spend hours watching the show as lightening danced over the spiky spires at the top of the hill. You could smell the dry, metallic odor of electricity and feel the air bristle with it. We were far enough away that it was entertaining but close enough to marvel at the colours. Who knew lightening could be pink, blue and red!

One day, a then friend trying to share an experience took me up there. In hindsight I think we were both mad. Even then, it was not the safest place, mostly deserted, the track overgrown with bush in places. But despite being old enough to know better, secure in our stupidity and blind faith that we would be able to overcome anything, we parked the car and hashed our way up to the observation tower.

Trinidad spread out before us, we were royalty looking over our subjects, or the only people on earth; Diego Martin, Westmoorings, Carenage and the Five Islands on one side; St. James, Port of Spain, a glimpse of the Caroni Swamp, Point a Pierre and in the faint distance, Venezuela. A topographical map of varying shades; bluish grey, concrete, moss green, forest green, green green, from that distance it was like looking at a monopoly board, the buildings insignificant. The wind was the only noise, the higher we climbed that tower, the cleaner the air smelled, the lighter we felt. Nothing to anchor us to the ground other than the fragility of our bodies, like Icarus, we wanted to fly, instead, we sat on the platform. Saying nothing, listening to the hush of air flowing over the wings of the corbeaux as they flew so low overhead you could almost reach out and touch them. Loath to break the peace we sat for what seemed like hours, watching, the towering antenna silent sentinels.

At the time it was dry season, but up there, even though the earth was dry, it lacked the crispiness, the cracks were barely visible through the long grass. The vegetation was lazy, fecund, drooping sensuously against the earth, swept gently back and forth in the breeze. When we got there the sun was well past it's hottest, it was cool so high up, strangely disconnected from the world even while being surrounded by communications tools, it was truly liberating. Almost like being in the sea but without the currents to pull and tug.

I have never been back, preferring my memory of the place rather than having it defiled by current events and the subsequent degradation of the surrounding hillsides. For one perfect moment, I flew with the Corbeaux and knew what it was to rule.

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