Tuesday 27 October 2009

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

I was very bleary-eyed all day yesterday and this is the story of why.

I was woken in the middle of Sunday night by a strange sound, softer than a whip cracking, louder than someone cracking his knuckles. When I opened my eyes, alarmed, I saw flashes of light coming from the window. Eventually I unfogged my mind enough to realise that the light was actually lightning and that an epic thunderstorm was unfolding over Cape Town. But I couldn’t figure out the cracking sound.

It was rhythmic: cra-ack, cra-ack, cr-ack and seemed to be coming from the garden just outside my bedroom window. It didn’t sound like rain and I couldn’t think what might be falling from the tree in the garden to make that noise. After a long time I fell asleep.

Yesterday afternoon there was a slight drizzle dampening the air as I walked back to the house where I’m staying. When I got to the gate I heard the sound again. And finally realised what it was: the sound of rain sparking as it hit the electric fence.

I'm travelling to far parts of the world (far from my home, that is) to experience how other people live in other landscapes. Electric fences are part of the landscape here. I wish they weren’t, and not because they keep me awake at nights. I’m told I’ll get used to it – is that better or worse?

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