The machine says CS&W has 993 followers. In a good week, maybe two or three, a thousand people may be reading what this modest, self-published author has to say. I just want to thank you all so much for spending some of your time here. I hope you’ll stay with me.
No surprise to me I’m mostly empty space.
“… if an atom were the size of Fenway Park, the home stadium of the Red Sox in Boston, its dense central nucleus would be the size of a mustard seed, with the electrons gracefully orbiting in the outer bleachers. In fact, almost the entire volume of an atom, considerably more than 99 percent, is empty space, except for the haze of nearly weightless electrons. Since we and everything else are made of atoms, we are mostly empty space.”
Alan Lightman, here. Complimented by the completely genius Natalie Wolchover’s article Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery.
When we met, our driver told us, “I am Everlasting.” We sort of looked away, until we realized that was his name.
Everlasting was a slow, deliberate speaker, easy enough to understand once you got acclimated. His “S’s” kind of trailed off.
The Lilongwe River lolled by the market, near the old city administration building “from when Lilongwe was a small town.” The new city hall, beacon of progress, had a “Ready Print” shop sign in a window on the second floor.
Everlasting showed us the flame tree, its red flower. What he called a tube tree at the central outdoor market, where a smiling little boy saw my camera and excitedly grabbed his friend’s arm.
A few kilometers out of town, people along the roadside carried everything you could imagine. A stack of firewood, one guy with a dozen bright crimson pin wheels twirling in each hand.
“These people are coming back from the market. They have been selling.”
They’re Chewa, originally from Congo via Zambia, and among the longest settled Malawian tribes. Portuguese contact with the Chewa came as early as 1608, with evidence of the first Chewa kingdom just before the 1492 voyage of Columbus.
Everlasting began a lecture on goats: They should be tied so as not to eat the maize. Sometimes you cannot see where the goat is tied because the rope is so long. But sometimes the rope is gone away.
If you see a forest, Everlasting said, it is probably a cemetery. Village people cannot use cemetery land for growing, so, sensibly, they choose stands of forest for their burial grounds.
On a flagpole the national flag hung limp.
“The wind is not blowing so it is closed,” Everlasting explained. Across the flag a red sun rose from the top of three bands, and Everlasting said that represents fire.
“The national team when they have done well we call them the Flames. When they have not, well, then it is silent.”
When Everlasting got particularly involved in his stories, he’d punctuate his remarks with the car horn. Talkin’ and tappin’ and tootin’.
Africa Vignettes is a weekly series most Mondays this summer on CS&W.
Nice live webcam of St. John’s, Newfoundland’s pretty little harbour.
“Shampooing can I do and water-waving can I do, and marcelling can I do, and oil massage can I do, and hair-dyeing can I do, but keep from mixing up Göring’s and Goebbel’s birthday, that I can not do.”
• A hairdresser in distress over losing her hairdressing license in Hitler’s Germany in Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.
Nice report here. Train travel is the best, and here is a newly available and perfectly exotic route. Definitely put me down for this one.