— I am obsessed with mosses. — I tell him as I shoot yet another tuft.
Behind me, Man laughs gently. He knows. I mean, by now, he has had plenty of time to notice just how obsessed I have become with mosses. He’s been everywhere with me photographing them. I stop for a second to consider: two of us, in the pouring rain, thick wool snoods over our heads, our old wax coats from ten years ago and soaked skin boots, camera in hand, standing by the verge of a mountain road, facing a wall. What exactly are the drivers that slow down by thinking as their heads turn, eyes stuck to our incongruous, disgruntled dripping shapes, in disbelief…?
— I mean, look at these mosses!
He does. Over the years, he’s become quite attentive and particular about mosses, too. He’s learnt, for instance, that no accidental moss in my plant pots, anywhere in my garden, edging the paths, creeping up walls or on the trees, anywhere at all, are to be destroyed, under absolutely no circumstances, sub poena of my powerful Southern European vocal chords and extensive vocabulary. Right now, however, my voice is chirpy and trilling and purring like a cat who’s just got all the cream and knows it, and I bet that’s what’s keeping him silently amused too.
— I have.
The reply comes as gentle as he is, and I can tell he is smiling. That’s one of the reasons I love this man so much: he’s the only one who can completely disarm me just with a single note of his voice, or the near silence of a smile embracing his face. Reduce me to a state of loved in happiness and enduring cordial entente. That’s my boy – a miracle worker, I’m told. Another reason is because even without turning around to look at him, I know just how big and bright his smile is, and just what is passing in his eyes. Just as he knows mine. And that, I say, is a wondrous gift, no more no less, from the serendipitous gods of Fate and Destiny that thus govern the intervals of men and mosses alike.
— I bet you wish you could pack them all up to take home with you…
Oh, and I so, so do. These mosses are glorious. They’re all different. They capture my imagination, my excitement, the whole of me. Captured, I surrender. In return, I capture them, their intricacies, their unfathomable uniqueness, in my little snaps of reality, of moments to take home and keep. I guess I had never really realised how many different qualities of mosses there were. How gloriously dissimilar and fascinating their tiny little leaves, their shoots, their intricate crowns, can be. Some are so tiny that even my camera, poor old and inept thing just like me, struggles to ‘see’ them. The most beautiful, I soon discover, happen to like to ensconce themselves in the most incredible and inaccessible of places – those exact places where my stiff and permanently on strike limbs do not allow me to approach, inspect at will. I look at Man. He smiles. I know he knows what’s just going through my mind. My grin widens. Ear to ear.
— Uh-oh, mischief… — And he raises one eyebrow.
— What d’ya think they’ll think, dirty minded lot the all of them, if they see me lying on my tummy, there, head down in the gutter, while I shoot those mosses down there…?
— That you’re off your little rocker…? As nutty as a fruitcake…? Mad as a hatter…?
— Maybe, maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll just start gossiping all over the village that I was out cold with bagaço or something… You know us the fallen woman types, prone to all sorts of debauchery and over-indulgence…
I chuckle, and so does he. I know he can see the glint in my eye. I’d just love to get the whole village talking. Again. It’s an irresistible thought. It’s the kind of cat and mouse game I’ve been playing for years. I don’t often win, as my tattered reputation will readily attest, but I always have great fun. Erm… Or almost always. Because sometimes the fire just got too close.
— Or maybe they’ll start spreading the rumour that you beat me black and blue and into a pulp and throw me in the gutter, you dirty old rotten Brit beef you! – Man raises both his eyebrows. I pretend I am fiddling with the macro.
— Don’t even think of it. You get to lie down there, hon, and I promise you you’ll stay there. I’ll leave you there, I swear. I’m not helping you back up. – And he means it. Not because he is a spoilsport, but because he knows just how ill I have been these last few days. Notwithstanding, I still shoot accusingly at him, eyeing him sideways barely hiding my mischief and repressed laughter.
— Spoilsport! Mr. Killjoy! You’ve no heart, not letting poor little me have any fun…
— You’re having enough fun as it is – photograph your little mosses from up here, go on, look at how gorgeous they all are, and so many. See? — And his arm is back around my shoulders.
He’s taking the mickey, I know, and I let him. Certain things, things like this, are what makes the bonds that bind us, as if all wrapped up for the season’s presents. Love, I am finding, is just like my mosses, always growing, always changing, always creeping unassuming new shoots, always new and yet the same old, same old same and moss, always renewing, and never ever fading.
— Hey, look at th…
And yes. You probably guessed it. It was yet another little, amazing, glorious, eternal little moss.
19 December 2013
text & photo © Nina Light CC-BY-NC-ND