Walls and Lawns

Excited about the sights and sounds around me, I embrace the landmarks, scenes, crowds and stories where I live.

Most of the roads in my neighborhood are quite wide and surrounded by beautiful houses. The buildings on either side of the road have stunning walls and lawns. There must have been a trend many years ago, as most of the houses have a mini lawn spanning the length of the land, adorned by two or three tall palm trees. At the edge of the mini lawns, you sometimes find tufts of plants that flower throughout the year. Making the neighborhoods colourful and spectacular.

I remember my mother narrating the story about their (my parents) decision making whilst designing our childhood home. She told us many years ago, how they drove around many of the residential areas in the late 60s to savor the beautiful buildings in the city at the time. I remember her sharing how they made a decision of their choice of building, walls and lawns because of what they noticed. She mentioned how the houses they saw were hidden behind large tropical trees with lush grounds. We were intrigued when she recounted their drive around in the evenings, so they were not noticed. Their evening trips were not so fruitful as they could not see much because of the long drives leading to the homes. What they noted though, was the distinctive walls and lawns which they definitely copied.

Our childhood home, I remember, had a raised lawn outside and a half wall decorated with chipped stones. The top of the wall had an interesting metal arrangement. There was a coiffed hedge by the wall, at the side of the house which was full during the rainy season.

Since my mother’s narration, I have consciously taken an interest in the different walls and lawns in any of the residential areas I visit. I have noticed a wide variety of walls and lawns in the residential areas I have visited mainly in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. Proud house owners design the most impressive walls and take advantage of the many colourful tropical plants to adorn their surroundings.

A Special Gift

The gift was a real surprise.

“Open it Ms. Juliette,” V whispered excitedly.

I did not want to guess what it was. As large as an A4 paper, hard to touch, in my mind I knew it was a book but never did I think V would select or suggest a notebook.

Whenever we had a quick write in class, I would get out my notebook and write with my fourth graders. I’m glad I did that, I sometimes read pages of poetry or my episodes to them. I needed my students to realise that I wrote often, if not daily and as a writer I sometimes struggle to begin or find topics to write about.

My course on journalling had a great impact on my teaching, I now have some structure and guidance of what it is about. I am sold into what writing regularly in a note book is and have seen many examples. I now know I am on the right path.

Noticing the interest in my students, and seeing them as writers, I got a few students notebooks and encouraged them to journal as and when they wished. I also made them aware that their notebooks would be personal and they did not need to share them with me. V was gifted one, she adored it, shared some of her writing with me and really cherished her purple flowered notebook. Sometimes she’d hug it and walk quietly beside me with a gratifying smile.

I shared my vulnerability, they also shared theirs. I shared my different genres, they also shared theirs. They added illustrations and sometimes cut pictures related to their topics and wrote reams and reams. There was one occasion when V wrote poems about all the six adults in her grade, using descriptive words, lines and sometimes dialogue, which disclosed exactly who the focus of the piece was.

So, on the last day of school, when the parcel was placed gently on my table and a card pulled directly towards me, I was made to open both the card and the present. This got me quite emotional. Was V expecting that? I remember she came with a friend. They looked directly at my masked face; struggling to read the emotion plastered in my eyes. I was shocked and wide eyed. I tore the wrapping paper off.

Surprised, my open palms cupped my head. I could not shake V’s hands. I was touched by the choice of present. A bound notebook. V knew I would appreciate that, especially because it was covered in an African print and was also unexpected.

A Rush of Rain

Rain Rush

Dashes to us

Beating and banging

Shows it’s anger

Loud thumps of

Pitter Patter

Like music but dissonant

We’ve waited long

You’ve arrived hard

Waving all around

The sturdy building

Forming rivers in minutes

Why the rush?

After the wait

So welcome but wild

Worried about flooding

Praying for a glide

Rather than a stream

You are welcome rain!!!

Is it a climate change or climate rage? We’ve waited many months. Our supposed rainy season expected in April shows its head in June.

“It’s better late that never,” they declare!

For years we have always had rain, tropical rain during the second semester, in April or May. This year we had a couple of drizzles but no rain. I remember many years ago teaching my Pre-kindergarten class when we harvested rain and sang rhymes whilst it was raining, those were memorable times.

Many occasions in my fourth grade class, we experienced moving floods on our playground. Once or twice students were held in their French class because the rain was falling heavily. We have many memories of the effects of heavy rain but this year we have finished the school year with no rain tales to share. There really is a ‘climate change’ raging, if I can put it that way.

After that cacophony caused by the rush of rain a couple of nights ago, we are still waiting for another, many more. We continue to read the signs of tropical rains and not rely on the forecast. I hope I’ll soon have the opportunity to write my rain tales here.

A Reminder

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.” #teacherlife

I chanced upon this quote on Instagram today. It spoke to me. It reminded me of how I should consciously seek out all students, regularly looking for gems in their sharing or work. I made sure I recognized and encouraged students today and this worked like magic.

The students I spoke to, commended and encouraged suddenly sparked and crawled out of their shells, joining the class in discussions, calling me for feedback, asking questions and being active members of the teaching and learning.

Sometimes we need these reminders, even though we may already be using different strategies to involve all students. This quote is essential especially when you have many lively class members who are always energized during lessons.

In the Morn

When all is solemn and quiet

The sky darkens in the morn

They fly and sing as a duet

When all is solemn and quiet

They rise to seek their diet

Where nature is born

When all is solemn and quiet

The sky darkens in the morn

My first triolet. I found an example in the book, A Kick in the Head, an eight-line poem with a rhyme scheme abaaabab, and some repeating lines. In the rainy season, some mornings meet us with dark skies, but still the morning birds sing to lighten the atmosphere. These scenes draw us close to nature.

An Unplanned Visit

The unplanned visits are the best, I thought, as our guests were leaving.

I was thinking about the anxiety in preparing for guests. The long list of dishes. Checking that the place is “spick and span”. Getting out the best crockery, cutlery and glasses. The dishes planned, ingredients purchased, time set for preparing and cooking, then the wait.

‘Are they coming on time? When will they get here?’

‘Is the room temperature okay: open windows or air conditioner?’

‘Will there be enough seats: should we bring in some more?’

I guess these days all’s changed and most planned visits have a wait.

Last night our friends from Arizona popped in to say, ‘hello and goodbye’ They had travelled to Ghana for a different purpose and would not leave without seeing us. Masked up, they arrived around dinner time . I quickly put together a “Tapas-like” meal for us.

Our last supper perhaps, as they leave this evening. It was a short visit, our friends, their friends from down our road joined us at the tail end of the visit. There were many clicks, appreciating the brief visit and excited as we had not seen each other for many years. The clicks stored the memories, there was no stress, everyone was delighted.

From a Grateful Writer

Every year I get braver and more courageous with my words and stance as a writer. I’ve learned a lot from my many mentors here. I also have a long list of different moves as my ‘go to’ on a ‘dry’ day.

Where did this month go? It flew by without us noticing.

Is it because we are busy with the ‘on-campus’, ‘online’, ‘hybrid’ or ‘concurrent’ teaching?

Next March, all these words or some of them may be a thing of the past.

I’m grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, and the friends who always gave me such impactful feedback.

I’ll end with ‘Me da mo ase paa,’ ‘thank you very much’ in Twi a language spoken in Ghana, West Africa.

Until next March, my goal is to keep writing.


The Rainy Season is Here

During the rainy season all the plants bloom, become lush as one’s garden tends to look like a tropical forest.

My visit to R’s garden yesterday was another delight. Every visit unearth’s gifts. Plants that I have not particularly noticed before. I have the pleasure of enjoying the plants and leaving them there. It reminds me of how we sometimes enjoy other people’s babies.

Calathea Roseoptica

Yesterday I was drawn to plants with coloured or patterned leaves. As I looked through my photographs I noticed I had been attracted to plants with decorated leaves.

The rains during the rainy season are strong and fall in drapes. The rains are always refreshing as they soak up the heat. We wake with a cool breeze and fresh earthy smells. We’d rather that, than the hazy morning sunshine that is sometimes so scorching you forget the time of day it is.

So during this season as the plants are gratified so are we.




the putter of rain

changed the atmosphere

both inside and out


the din of rain

made me move

rushing outside to the lines


he shouted to remind me

of the laundry hanging outside

soaking the large drops of tropical rain


I yelled back to confirm

I was on my way

to the backyard, basket in hand


I sang to myself whilst

plucking the pegs hurriedly

off the bedsheets and pillow cases.