Well, I’m drowning. Drowning in the sensory riches of Africa. It’s not like the sensory overload that I’ve heard happens in India, where your receptors distort under the volume of stimuli. Here it’s just so rich and so fecund, and the colours are so delicious that you stand, spellbound, and smile (or if you’ve arrived sleep deprived, cry).
And I’ve stumbled again on a tree I knew briefly twenty five years ago. I’m thinking that it’s got to be Cassia spectabilis (syn. Senna spectabilis). Its wide canopy hung over the mortuary in the mission hospital in Zambia where I was staying, and its huge panicles of yellow flowers spilled their sweet fragrance upon the women, wailing for days on end, in its deep shade. If the scent was visible, it would have dropped from the flowers with syrupy viscosity, and langoured in deep pools in those shadowy depths.
And here it is again, the scent trawling up deep memories to accompany the very in-the-moment smile.