Wednesday, October 7, 2009

from 'Fez'


They love the sound of a fountain splashing in the courtyard; on the coals of their braziers they sprinkle sandalwood and benzoin; they have a passion for sitting on a high spot of ground at twilight and watching the slow change of light, color and form in the landscape. Outside the ramparts are innumerable orchards, delightful little wildernesses of canebrake, where olive and fig trees abound. It is the custom of families to go out there on a late afternoon with their rugs, braziers and tea equipment. One discovers groups of such picnickers in the most secluded corners of the countryside, particularly on the northern slopes above the valley. Not long ago on one of my walks I came across a family spread out in the long grass. They were sitting quietly on their reed mats, but something in their collective attitude made me stop and observe them more closely. Then I saw that surrounding them at a radius of perhaps a hundred feet was a circle of bird cages, each supported by a stake driven into the ground. There were birds in all the cages and they were singing. The entire family sat there happily, listening. As urbanites in other places carry along their radios, they had brought their birds with them from the town, purely for entertainment. 
~ Paul Bowles