Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pickled Cow's heads and other stuff

Have you ever been nearly run down by a wheel barrel filled with pickled cow's heads? It happened to me last week as I was shoe shopping at Mont Buet with Leanne, Hannah and Kristy. We had weaved our way through a sea of humanity, sometimes walking single-file, haltingly, with walls of sound colliding and competing for our attention. The streets winding and crowded with vendors and shoppers all around. Vendors selling coconuts or cloth or diapers by the bundle. Some have tables with their wares perched precariously and some have wheel barrels, some have actual shops lining the streets, and then there are some with a cloth spread on the pavement with merchandize piled high and haphazard. One can buy almost anything at this African market. The fruits and vegetables covered with flies, shining with vibrant color, artfully piled into small mounds. People are bumping into one another and stopping suddenly as something catches their eyes. We often hear vendors shouting out after us, "Les Blanches!" "The Whites!" Men making kissing noises to catch our attention can be a bit distracting. The sheer number of people can be intimidating. We pushed on undaunted, looking for shoes for Leanne, fabric for Kristy and new knock-off Converse for Hannah. I was just along for the ride but found a set of lovely green and brown swirled plates that would be a perfect base for chunky candles on my dinning table. I was going to buy just one but ended up with a set of six.

Sometimes the smells are not pleasant and it takes a steely resolve to dive in to the throng of people and find your way around the crazily winding streets. Then when one is ready to buy, the bartering begins. It is a game of what price will we pay today? Sometimes fun, sometimes not so fun... It is an experience and an adventure. Never carry a purse, thieves are out in full force and we kinda stand out in the crowd.

Later that night on a table surrounded by friends and good food, those lovely swirly plates of green and brown sat interspersed with blue swirly plates I already had. It was the perfect table, set, and ready to share. Just last night I put three chunky candles on the plate. I lit them and got warm fuzzies just watching the lit candle flames dance on unseen air currents, lighting an ordinary space with romance and and a spot of drama, casting soft shadows on the walls and ceiling. This morning I picked up a piece of a melted puddle of candle wax and held it to my nose and breathed in the scent, feeling it's waxy surface with a slightly oily coat. On the underside shinning in the morning light was a swirling pattern showing the wax's molten growth as it pooled and cooled on the plate I bought at Mont Buet. So lovely the swirls, hidden art in a puddle of wax. God is so artful to put beauty inside such a delicate and ordinary thing. How easily I could have missed this whispered message of beauty.

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