From concrete to vines to mountains to sea

reddirtlattes/ June 1, 2011/ photography/ 10 comments

Summer is here. Storms hang in corners; windows are now perpetually open, as mosquitoes rest on my pillow waiting for me to sleep so that they can have their feast. I thought we’d left bed nets behind in Uganda, but this past week we found ourselves hanging them above and around our bed in Rome, so that once again night holds us in webs.

Construction is also in flower, and every corner and every window barrages the world around it with hammering and drilling, which pound and pierce into my every pore. My husband used to tease me that I didn’t know the world existed beyond the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was as if I had a string that could only go so far, a tension cord, which would swing me back if it became too taught, too far away. But then we moved to Uganda, and as I’ve written it wasn’t easy, but slowly, without me even noticing it, I surrendered to silence filled with birds, and insects, and freedom. I remember going back to NY last summer and for the first time in my life found myself cowering and reeling back from the intense noise being hurled at me. That same feeling has sadly been felt by our daughter here. For seven months now she’s walked with her hands over her ears and asks me why it has to be this way. Yesterday she actually said, “Mommy, Rome is too loud. I think we need to leave soon and find a quieter home.” And then today, while walking her to school we took a different route, longer, but through a nicer street. For one moment the traffic calmed and my 4 year-old daughter stopped me and said, “Mommy, listen. It’s quiet. That’s so nice.” And then, of course, the light turned green and we braced ourselves again.

I write all this as I start to pack to leave the city for the summer. Yes, there will be concrete and steel and noise along the way, but mostly it will be vines and mountains and sea. I look forward to watching my daughter drop her hands back down to her sides, while my husband spreads his soul and being as far as the horizon can take him.

I won’t be writing as much. A good deal of the journey is as far away from technology as we can get. But I will try and post some stories and pictures along the way. I wish everyone a very happy summer.

Here are some shots of the Ugandan sky, which opened me up and spread me out so that apartments in cities can no longer contain, or sustain me.


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  1. Heaven is called Ndali Lodge! Nothing like the African sky!

    1. Ah Robyn, you recognized some of the pictures! Yes, on the way and at the lodge. Truly breathtaking.

  2. A child who is perceptive enough to notice the silence: Pretty cool.

    1. Don, I know all parents say this, but she is truly amazing.

  3. safari njema dear sabrina,

    i hope you find what you are looking for, peace and quiet, city life and many shining stars.

    and if you find yourself anywhere near santa barbara…

    1. Thanks, Lori and if we find ourselves out that way, you can bet we’ll look you up!

  4. Beautiful photos; thanks for sharing!

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer, Sabrina. Full of adventures and full of restful calm, too, in good measure.

    1. Thanks, Leslie. To you as well.

  5. Children always point out the right things for us to thing about. I hope you have a wonderful relaxing and quiet summer. 🙂

  6. Oh those African Skies. I just went away for a few days so I could soak up some Uganda open sky country before we leave. It is so quiet, so peaceful. But the Kampala nights are another story! Loud these nights with guards blaring their radios at top volumes, dogs too cross and horns too busy. I love how everywhere has its own night music.

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