One of the houses we stayed at in Honiara stood like a sentinel at the very top of the hill. Bound around by starfruit and orange trees, its cinder block walls kept the rooms cool and dark. A few meters past the rain tank, a hedge of hibiscus bushes marked an abrupt drop to the road below. The hibiscuses, thick, lush and ornamented with huge, star like blooms, kept pets, children and adults alike safe from the drop off.
One day, armed with a book and seeking to escape for a while, I tentatively poked my head through a gap between two bushes. To my surprise, I discovered that there was a shallow ledge on the other side of the living wall, shaded and protected by the overhanging branches. I tucked my book into the waist of my skirt and squeezed the rest of my body through the opening.
Broad, dark leaves brushed my face. Twigs clung at my t-shirt and hair, then sprung back greenly as I passed. My knees, stirring the dirt below, upset a colony of snails. A spider skittered huffily away. The air was suddenly thick with the dank, brown scent of growing things.
And just like that, I had emerged to the other side of the hedge. Carved there into the living wall was a little nook, rounded at the back by overarching limbs, and open to the wide sweep of flowering trees and sparkling harbor below. An exhilarating wind greeted me, fresh and scented with frangipani and island cherries. Settling back into the curve of branches, I let the wild brightness sink into me. Alone there at the edge of the world, I was the wind. I was the sea. I was sister to the rippling ocean of blooms and leaves below me.
Opening my book, embraced by the earth, I began to read.