Flemingia grahamiana. Or coffee, and thin thread of being
When I looked at this picture, it somehow by itself appeared the name: "strange things".
These things are really amazing and very different. What unites them – It is coffee. The coffee dripper, clay pourover – is the hat on the stone’s head. The stone’s foot is on cotton cloth - homespun, purple, which I brought from Ethiopia, where had been in coffee journey.
The stone was brought from much older journey, from the Carpathians. It was the spring of 1983, I'm 19 years old, learning to be a hydrologist. The beauty of water attracts me. We go down the Cheremosh river on an inflatable raft. This river flows in the Carpathians, steep and rough. In summer time high in the mountains it is shallow and clear, but in the spring, when the snow melts – the river is a huge foamy stream of muddy ice-cold water, roaring between boulders. Drown out there - is a piece of cake. Once this time of year by Cheremosh the Guzul rafted logs from mountain forests. Guzul word for “rafter” was “plotohon”. There is the famous "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", there are these rafts. Names of the Cheremosh rapids sound for themselves: Hooky, Dzembronya ... Well, we were not “plotohony”, we were tourists. Somewhere approaching the shore, I jump from the raft into the water. My feet are in wool socks and sneackers:
The idea of it, that wool (even wet) - has to "warm" feet. But this water flows straightly from the snow-covered mountains and my feet were absolutely icy-cold. Stepping shallow water by these ice-feet I pull the raft to the shore and in the water I see this amazing stone. I took it. The underside of the stone is like a human foot. Upper - something resembling a head statues of Easter Island. My friends examine the stone, and advise me to throw it back into Cheremosh. But I put it in my backpack and keep.
Since then the stone wandered with me in my life, and now stands on a shelf above the desk. When I look at the stone, the more I am surprised is just how many thousands of years it was standing in the Cheremosh, motionless at the same spot , how water gently polished it and shaped like this “foot-head”?! The water have been gentling it, mammoths and glacial periods have passed by, millennia changes over millennia and have finished it… More recently I’ve read the story of some shaman. Gutzul people call them “Molfar”. He said that such miraculous stones of the rivers – in some way concentrate the power and energy. He said, such stones should not be taken from their places without ceremony. One must ask for the permission from the spirit of the stone host place. To take the stone one have to sacrifice something to the spirit, and taking the stone - to wrap it in cover of white cloth. Perhaps then I was young and stupid - I did not ask the spirit for the stone, not sacrificed, and wrongly covered it with a cloth of my backpack. Now I think, the stone’s spirit had punished me for the non-obeying. As now I revoke, rafting further I began to feel the tooth-ache. On my return the ache was so painful, that I had to go to a dentist to pluck the tooth. Moreover, the tooth was pulled terribly hurt, using wooden hammer and chisel. I then got out of the dentist barely alive. Well, also they say I’d much displeased the spirit, increasing a danger of drowning. But it seems, the spirit was apparently satisfied with my tooth and forgave me. Since that time I had no such terrible tooth-plucking. Several times I was drowning in different rivers, but always had escaped. Well, maybe it's all "bullshit" and I had the tooth problem anyway? And I got out of these rivers thanks to my fit&fate and there was no the spirit? Who knows ... What's exactly matched, all that really took place and the stone is in my home for all these years.
Recently I’ve taken the clay pourover, hand-made in Opishne by a skillful potter. I brew coffee in it and after each brewing I was looking for a place to put the pourover, because this stuff is new for my home and had not it’s own place. Once I put the new pot upside-down directly on the stone’s bald head. In Ukraine country style, when pots are hang to dry on pickets of lath fence, upside down. I hope the spirit likes the new cap, because the cap is really stylish and absolutely exclusive. :)
Since I'm an amateur photographer, some morning the idea appeared – to foto the new image of the stone. Early in the morning, you know – the creative perception is bright, much brighter, than during busy daytime. So, I began to compose the still life. Pardon me, the portrait. :) The question arose, about the background. You have to know – there is no good portrait without descent background. Looking around I taken the purple scarf, I’d bought at the market in Ethiopia. Cotton scarf, woven by some local handicraft technology and painted by purple dye, made from some local natural ingredients. The Ethiopian scarf reminded me the evening in Yirgacheffe town. I ambled down the street and saw a slim old lady in blue turban, sitting next to the brown wall, plastered by clay. She was making cotton threads – broke little cotton plant bolls, extracted bunches of cotton, formed a thread by fingers and spun them at small sticks, spindels. I sat down in front of her for a few minutes and watched her craft. I regret that there is no camera with me - wrinkled old woman in her blue robe looked very colorful. The lady was pleased with my attention, she laughed and said something to me, and children around too laughed at what she was saying. I did not understand and also was smiling. A few days later on the market I saw homespun cotton scarfs, remember that old lady-spinner from Yirgacheffe, and bought a scarf. Choosing the purple color, I’d asked the seller, what is the dye? He explained to me, this purple color is produced from some local plants.
So I did some portraits of my strange things. And again, as once in Ethiopia I was "hooked" by the purple color of scarf. I began to search the Internet for purple dye. Well, I rejected the version of the Phoenician dye from shellfish, which were stained purple toga of the Roman emperors. I began to "dig in Africa" and found matched plant in Ethiopia. It’s Latin botanical name is Flemingia grahamiana. How it is called in Ethiopia - ? But looking at the picture of this plant – I feel a kind of déjà vu. It seemed to me that I’ve saw it somewhere. And where I could see it, if not in Ethiopia? Browsing through my photos from the trip – I found again, where I saw it.
We stayed there in the hotel, near the Yirhalem town, Sidama coffee region. This hotel was right on the edge of the forest. We lived there in stylized local cottages called "tukul."
My tukul-neighbor, an American coffee traveller snored all night, somewhere near hyenas howled. The snore&howl didn’t bothered me, just adding some notes to almost perfect African lullaby. I wake up before sunrise, grab my camera and quietly went off, to watch Africa closer. I wandered through dew-wet forest, "snapping" all sorts of Ethiopian forest beauty - coffee berries, deer, birds, flowers. And among the flowers (once perhaps no accident) appeared here this:
As I now understand, it is precisely Flemingia grahamiana, which painted the same scarf, against which was shot the portrait of the stone in the pourover cap.
"…wonderful are your works, oh God ..."