I can feel the heat from the sun blazing down on me, and I know my surroundings feel it too. The top of my head is burning, and my dark hair does nothing to reflect the heat, but only absorbs the constant rays, unobstructed by clouds or rain, at least in this season. There is a breeze, which I welcome on my skin; it is cool when it rushes across the thin sheen of sweat on my face and arms. It is a welcome cool. The breeze brings me dust from the road I am standing on, a dirt road, cracked under the sun with layers of clay crumbling up towards the atmosphere as particles are swept into the air. They tickle my nose and I sneeze. I can smell the earth, but I can also smell and almost taste the grasses – it is the sweet scent of dried grasses, uncut, waving in the wind. I can hear the grasses brushing together as they sway in waves with each breath of air that chases the next across the savannah. With that wave I hear more sounds.
There are birds chirping in the distance. Perhaps a loud squawk of a corvid defending its food from another large bird, or the song-like chirps of smaller birds hidden in the leaves of a grove of nearby acacia trees. I can also hear other animals, larger animals, many animals. Herds of them, grazing slowly under the heat that surely affects them as much as it affects me. Their dainty hooves trample the crisp dried grasses that brush up against long legs that slowly move from one patch of grass to another. Their hooves also make a dull thud on the dusty earth where there is no vegetation, where they are crossing the road in which I stand. Their mouths make a slow grumble as they tear plants from the ground or leaves from the trees, masticating the tough fibrous materials between their grinding teeth, lazily, up and down, back and forth, before they swallow. I can smell the salty-sweet excrement they leave behind, that is already drying into chips under the sun. Insects scurry towards them, clicking their wings and legs as they go, humming as they fly towards their destination.
More intermittently, I hear other noises, those of animals I must be wary of. Animals that I have come to meet, to encounter from a distance. At this time of day they sleep in the shade, unless disturbed by their young who play and climb and tug on their fur demanding attention. I hear the chirpy mews of the cubs, and every once in a while a rumbling growl from one of the adults followed by a quick scamper of paws in the grass as a cub runs from the scene. I would like a nap too, in the shade. I can hear tails slapping flies away from backsides covered with fur, paws scratching at something itching underneath a heavy mane. In the distance, the far away distance, I hear a trumpet-like calling…and another one answering…a family, checking in and letting each other know where they are.
Do you know where I am? What do I see? Can you see it too?
This is Day 2 of Writing 101. Today’s assignment was to answer this question: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? And the twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.
I really want to go to Africa to see all those fascinating creatures of the plains. I’m especially interested in the cats, but all of the animals there call to me. Africa is at the top of my bucket list, and I can’t wait to start planning that adventure when I am able to go! I wanted to write a description of the place without using the sense of sight, just information that I could get from touch, sound, smell, and taste (to a lesser extent). Did you feel it? Could you see what I was describing? Let me know how I did in the comments below, and tell me where you would go if you could drop everything and zoom off right now!
6 thoughts on “Writing 101: A sense of place (or, as Liz Lemon says, I want to go to there)”
This is a really nice read! I particularly enjoyed the sense of ‘travel’ through the piece – from you, to the earth you are standing on, to the animals in the distance and then back to you again – I could feel the movement through the story.
Thank you! I didn’t even think of the movement aspect, but yes, I suppose my focus does travel. I appreciate you stopping by, and for giving me feedback! 🙂
Great job with the senses – the sun on your dark hair was particularly evocative. I could definitely feel the warmth and hear the sounds.
Thanks very much, Andrea! I feel like I got the senses of touch and hearing covered…now, as you said in the Commons, I’ve just got to work on the taste part. I appreciate your color-coding tip, and for taking the time to give my post a look-see! 😉
Well done, Marci. I could picture all that you described.
Thanks, Sammy! I’m unsure about this whole Writing 101 thing, since I’m not sure how it will fit in with the overall “feel” of my blog. But it’s only day 2, so I’ll keep going with it. Eh? Eh? Thanks for stopping by, always good to see you here! 😀