reddirtlattes/ September 30, 2018/ kenya/ 2 comments


This tiny bird has built a nest outside our bedroom window. For two days I watched her fly up with bits of fuzz, twigs, slowly building it. She’s in there now, laying her eggs, or perhaps they have been laid and she is with them, waiting.

We’ve been in Nairobi for just over 2 months now. I feel like this little bird, building our nest, the fragility of this expat life, just hanging by twigs it seems until we abandon it, leave for the next building up. Suspended time. 

I miss my island. Of all the places we could have landed though, Kenya is a soft one. 

We live in a valley surrounded by gardens, in a compound of twenty gorgeous stone homes. We have neighbors to borrow milk from. A playground where kids gather. A community to feel safe in. 

We had a monkey in our bedroom. We now keep close watch on the windows. 

It’s colder than I expected. Even now that the sun is stronger and warming the days, the evenings and nights can ride on a crisp wind. 

My daughter just had a week long school trip to the foot of Mount Kenya. She went on safari, helped a local school paint a mural, planted a garden for a woman and her child from a nearby village. She came home talking of the milky way and poverty and sunsets over mountains.

My son is over-the-moon to be here and loves the African way of life, with people coming and going and drivers and gardeners and guards and I watch him soaking up every moment. 

It’s funny how they surprise you. I thought it would be my son who missed the tranquility of home. I thought my daughter would spin into the chaos like a dance. But it’s she who watches the stars and thinks of currents and snow covered trees and he who is swirling. 

And me, I am this little bird, tending to my nest, keeping everyone warm, hanging on. 

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  1. I love the humanity that you bring to us as you tend your making a home with twigs and stories of the little ones exploring beyond their nests. Thank you for writing when you find the chance.

  2. Second attempt to post: Dear Full Nester as opposed to Empty Nester, glad to see you are back and settled into your old habitat. Those things that are old are also new; nothing stays the same. The reactions of your kids to their surroundings are not really surprising. Your daughter, at her pre-adolescent age, is trying to make new sense out of this. Her thoughts are in that world that is more philosophical in nature, relating her present environment to those higher more ephemeral ones. Your son, on the other hand, has only experienced the more isolated, contemplative island world he is familiar with, as opposed to the bustling, swirling one of Nairobi.

    People coming and going; faster paced, more frenetic, and just as fascinating with the new sounds, smells, and flow in the pace of life of Nairobi. He is exploring the new, while your daughter is contemplating the old but newer world with the idyllic world in her mind that oversees the more immediate concrete one she is now experiencing. In some ways, she is still in the world of the island. Does that make sense? (Sometimes I get so caught up with my complex forming thoughts, they don’t become easier to understand and decipher when I put them down in words).

    As I saw your welcomed post in my inbox, a thought first occurred to me that has nothing to do with your post. Sometime before you moved, it dawned on me that you changed the title of your blog from “Red Dirt Latte” to “Mothering Around the World”. How appropriate and informative. The red dirt of Uganda (?) is in your blood. You can taste it. But the experience of mothering is controlled by the hippocampus of your brain, feeling the emotions of your most important task of life, the raising and experience of enjoying your children, the main focus and joy of your life. And what a wonderful emotion that is!

    I am experiencing somethjng like this as of seven weeks ago, I became a grandparent for the third time. Dax Jeffrey Schwartz arrived into this world. It has been eleven years since my last grandchild was born. My son, who was a bon vivant but finally settled down two years ago at age 37, had his first child at age 39. I am over the moon. I will send a picture of him in another post as soon as I can figure out how to do it. I don’t want to mess around figuring it out in this post and screwing it up. I did that once already. Take care, Seymour

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