When I was a child in Kenya, there were many many childish things that I went without. I have no qualms or regrets about that. One thing I did have is something that most children today seem to be starved of; the great outdoors!
We had a lot of land. We were not wealthy, we just happened to have this massive plot of land that my dad got cheap and plonked a house on it. It was poorly built, badly designed and it was our home till my mother fell ill. But is was the land that made it special. We just couldn’t maintain it, entire swathes of it grew wild and we let it be. We enjoyed its natural frenzy. It was untamed, unmanageable and it inspired years of fun, creativity and spontaneity. It sparked our little minds with lucid imaginings that no television programme or toy could ever do.
After the rains came and went, our wilderness would be raucous with a flurry of wild flowers. I remember it vividly. Our uncultivated fields would be rowdy with the colourful display of these flowers that we hadn’t planned or planted. Much to my mothers displeasure, I would tear sheets of loo-roll into neat squares at the perforations, leaving them in a little pile before I headed out to raid the field of the flowers.
Blossoms never last long enough and I’d feel so sorry when they wilted into mush. My solution to this was to press their petals between the sheets of loo-roll and deposit them between the pages of the biggest most heaviest books that I could find on my mum’s bookshelves. It would annoy my mum to find her books laying horizontally in stumpy misshapen purposeful piles – so that they would press the flowers evenly. She would tell me that books prefer to stand up straight and not lie down to sleep. I’d try to explain that it was okay and that they would most probably dream of flowers. Mum would upend the books taking care not to spill the floral ‘dreams’ as she shunted them back in their rightful places. When she left the room, I would put them back to sleep.
These memories filter and float through my mind like rising dust trapped in a beam of sunlight whilst I find myself pressing petals into sheets of pristine blotting paper. Nothing really ever dies. It all just exists in a different way. Like my mum. Like these flowers.
| Notes for the Curious |
My method of pressing flowers is basic at best but it’s always worked for me. I don’t use a press and forage for botanicals in places various places (I won’t get my self in trouble by mentioning them here). If you fancy trying to press flowers too, HERE is a good tutorial.