| Abandoned | Till Rot Brings It Down

With eyes enlarged and hearts inflated we stepped into the grounds of this abandoned mansion. Broken and empty, windows dilated in despair. A silent lion molders in the thicket. A naked woman petrified, eyes forever fixed to the heavens. Scars on the front door from an angry axe, and the air seethed..... 

1972, Finland. Three young boys decided to camp in these grounds. The owner, who's family had held this land for generations, was stringent about trespass. That tragic night, he confronted the boys with a loaded pistol and shot all three of them dead. He was convicted for the triple murder and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. The confirmed details are vague and I cannot find enough information in English about this horrible case. However, for one reason or another, the convicted owner was released  early. A year later, he pointed a gun at himself and took his own life. 

From what I understand, the property and the land still belongs to the same family, though no one wants to make it their home nor invest in restoring it. It is listed and cannot be demolished. The mansion, is a timber construction and doesn't have the opulence nor extravagance of what many associate with mansions, and is instead, quiet and humble with Nordic elegance. Its fate is to remain in solemn silence until the rot  or a bolt of lightening brings it down.

It's not often that we have permission to stroll within the grounds of an abandoned property. Not because we have a fetish for trespassing, but more because it is often difficult to work out just who we should be asking permission from.  But on this occasion, and through my uncle's connections, we found ourselves with permission to wander. Given the history and the emotion attached to this place, even with permission, it was not a comfortable place to be.

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Polepole Means Slow

"Polepole" means slow in Swahili. 
Polepole is how I've started 2017. S l o w l y.

We welcomed in the New Year in Japan, muffled in the balmy warmth of family life. No mad parties. No hangovers. Just beautiful food, smiles and sincere appreciation. 

Every New Year must begin with a promise, and this year I've promised myself to go slow. I spent so much of 2016 feeling various shades of weary. Not something I want to repeat this year. I realised that I was habitually chasing ridiculous to-do lists that were completely un-doable. Unachievable, because I was trying to do everything that I used to do before my son was born as well as everything I had to do now that he is here. Unachievable, unhealthy and, if I am brutally honest with me....unnecessary too. 

So this year, I am grasping on lessons from my roots. In a hazy daydream the other day, I saw my mother again. 

She was in the front garden winnowing some dried beans. Lifting the woven sisal tray with a jerk that made the beans leap into the air. High, high, high they would go before the breeze would rush between them taking the dust and remnants of their husks with them. In those moments she looked like she was doing magic. Commanding the breeze and the beans. When she was done, she would walk, hips swaying,  this way and that as she passed by me. I follow her with my gaze and my eyes rest on the faded proverb printed on the back of her skirts. They say to me ; "haraka haraka, haina baraka". "Hurry, hurry, has no blessings".

So, I am going polepole. Polepole like a tortoise, or a chameleon or a caterpillar. Polepole mama, that is me...Mama Polepole.

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