Browns and greens

‘What is your favourite colour?’ ‘Green’ I replied, because ‘sabz’ is the only colour I remember in Dari, as in ‘green tea.’

But it is also true, especially here, where, apart from the tea, green is so seldom seen.

This is a typical view of Chagcharan:

Hari rud in Chagcharan

When I last flew up from Kabul, I noticed places I’d never seen before. I know that stretch of land pretty well by now, from both the air and the road. Usually, for about ten months of the year, it is an indistinguishable medley of browns.

This time though, the snow mostly melted, spring sprung, there were patches of vivid greens, highlighting streams and villages that are otherwise perfectly camouflaged as dried mud.

My previous musings on planting trees weren’t entirely random. You see a tree around here and you notice it. I begin to long for it: a sign of life and growth, of possibility, just something to bloody well break up the monotony of the landscape, to give it some contrast.

Chagcharan town is feeling surprisingly fresh with a few trees gallantly reaching upwards. There is even talk of building a park or two, and a project optimistically called ‘the greening of Chagcharan.’

Straddling the whole region’s arterial river, the hari rud, as the town does you’d think that’d be easy enough, but even the river’s banks are dried, brown mud. If you were to lie down under a tree here for a kip you’d be covered in dust.

So it was wonderful to drive out of town last week, to cross the high pass still capped with snow, and into the valley beyond. I don’t really understand the ecology of it, but on the other side of the watershed the hillsides were speckled with tough grasses, the valley bottoms verdant.

The drive was just as hot and uncomfortable as ever, jerking away over rutted roads, hillsides and river beds. But at least the view was more refreshing.

At the end of one day we went on a little fishing trip. Others fished, while I, for the first time in nearly a year, lay down on the spiky grass and wallowed in the feeling of the ground beneath me.

The colour felt all the more vivid for its impermanence. There was something poignant about seeing it and revelling in it, while knowing it is so fleeting. In a couple of months its spring lustre will have been burnt away by the sun.

A valley now:

The same valley (different end) October last year:

To see some valleys now you’d think they could support more life then they do, that there would be more lambs and calves grazing. But many animals were lost over winter and fodder is scarce enough as it is to last the whole year.

Spring comes late and fades early. I’m enjoying the greenery while I can.



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