Thursday, December 07, 2006

A late fall afternoon

It’s cold in Damascus, and I relish the strips of sunshine on the south-facing sidewalks in the early afternoon. The people complain that it hasn’t rained much at all this fall (low water supply, withering crops); I am secretly happy for the sun.

Daylight is in short supply, however. The maghreb call to prayer – exactly at sundown – now comes at 20 minutes ’til five.

The temperature isn’t cold by Minnesota standards, or even compared to winter in Kentucky, but it feels colder. A friend from New York who spent a winter here once told me that it was his hardest. You never really get warm, he said.

In the old Arab houses, the rooms are connected by an outdoor courtyard. In the morning, I wake up in a cold room, walk outside and into a bathroom that is yet colder. The toilet seat is the coldest.

At night, I twist the knob above my stove and set the diesel fuel trickling down a long shaft. I light a used Kleenex – no sense in using a new one – and drop it through the hatch. In no time, flames are lapping at the stove’s spider web window. I may yet learn to love the smell of burning diesel.


Post a Comment

<< Home