Sunday, July 03, 2016

A note on 'escapement', from The Edge

Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga. The day's been very quiet and peaceful. Have mostly been reading & writing. It has warmed up and the sun's come out. I've been watering parts of the garden. Most likely illegally. And pottering around in it. 

Now I'm back in the kitchen: A brandy & Coca-Cola (the wine's finished) and going to braai a little later, with the large steak, lamb chop and boerewors I chose at the butcher late on Thursday afternoon. That I'll have to do from my rickety garden couch, outside, before the temperature drops to the forecast -1 degrees. 

Deeply peaceful and quiet; I'm thoroughly content as my first week of recess winds down.

My house and garden are at the very edge of the village. The village, in turn, is on the edge of the escarpment. The predictive text tool first auto typed out 'escapement', which probably best describes this space. And, also, this trip 'home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Five yellow flowers floating on a pond

A veil of sadness has trawled behind me this entire day. Just enough of it to steal my joy. Unexplainable. Now, I'm home, hollow, and the promised rain has arrived: there's been a 100% chance of rain promised since 2pm. Juicy wetness and puffs of pigeon-grey fog finger my window-on-the-world as I try to work; the lamp on my desk on is a warm and welcoming glow. From six stories up I can clearly hear the splatter of overly ripe fig raindrops on the inky tarmac below.

I walked a long but favourite route to my bus after my last lecture. Via the Company Gardens at Cape Town's heart. Where I go to saturate my soul. It's a few extra but welcome kilometres of solitary wandering in a busy world.  I wonder where the many homeless folks that were sleeping on the well-clipped lawns are resting, waiting now as a soaking wet and cold winter's night's being served up.

Egyptian geese - which I grew up surrounded by in the far north of the country, which I too got to know via my solitary wandersings - confidently strutted about while protectively showing off the feathered clumps of newly-born chicks. Tiny. The old garden was vibrant with their unique calls.

I've spent much time in many gardens in this country, this one is the first, the oldest, the most filled with lingering ghosts. The first ground here was was readied for sowing seed on 29 April 1652. It's 364 years old. The oldest cultivated tree, a Pyrus communis (Saffraan pear) planted around this time still exists, protected and supported like a very old woman who's not all there, in the garden.

Someone had thrown five yellow hibiscus flowers on to the surface of the large pond.

Walking slowly, peacefully to console me of the unexplainable, I soaked up both the greyness and the homelessness around me. Only the pigeons bathing, showering in my favourite fountain seemed unperturbed as I picked myself through the garden and it's less travelled paths and walkways.

This was so starkly different to my last visit just short of a week ago. Then the city was bathed in bright winter sunshine beneath a champagne sky. Those days I adore: it's when the very oxygen molecules seem to individually vibrate and shine with exuberant life. It lends days like that an awesomeness, a surrealness that leads you to believe you're living in a miracle.

It's 17h29 as I type these words and dusk is upon me as I cocoon myself in this post, and in my mind, and in my apartment. Although I've a night of work ahead me, I'm grateful to be both home and for this home. Even so, I can't but help thinking about what life would be like tonight on the cold, wet streets as another Antarctic cold front ghosts, not unlike the reaper, across this province and deep into the interior.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The girl on the train

Saturday, I took a train to Kalkbay. It's a favourite place of mine. There the wind, reeking of Ocean and Ozone, blows through my mind. It untangles my convoluted thoughts. These are the long, thick, voluptuous seaweed trunks that crisscross my tempestuous winter brain. These are the trees that obscure my vision and reduce my perspective, preventing me from seeing the wood.

The journey is a pleasurably slow one, just short of an hour long. Time to think, read. To finely observe people, mountains, the ocean.

I met a young woman on the train... We started talking. Spontaneous combustion. My life is richer for having met Selina.

She aspires to be an oceanographer, is already a teacher. She adores God. Has never had a boyfriend.

Her eyes, two shiny black velvet berries. They glistened with tenderness and love.

My heart is wide open to Life. So is Selina's.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rain 2

A swarm of seagulls rip and shred the barren air above a corner of an empty lot in a street below. Crumbs.

It's a day bright with magnificence; it’s a pure light that confidently thrusts itself into your eyes. Not unlike that bunch of rowdy, happy people arriving late at a club from another party, high on the previous party, drunk on that party, fumbling with payment, also in-house humour, as they thrust themselves past the doorman. Adamantly.

The Mountain, solid in in its graniteness today, every crack and crevice starkly etched, looks sternly on, always mute, but present, alert.

Today, from the bird's’ eye, Woodstock appears shanty-town like; mismatched tin roofs, most of them deeply basted in rust, provide a flashback to this country’s early gold and diamond mining towns that became cities during distinct pieces of the last two centuries. The early Kimberley, Johannesburg, Pretoria. South African versions of the Wild West. And an integral part of the SA psyche - the wild, anarchic vein that unlike the Australians has not been expunged. I delight in our unexpunged anarchy, ‘cos it’s thick in my DNA and blood.

My chair creaks as I lean back to break my hunch over the notebook I'm writing in, and to eye my steaming porcelain-white bowl of green tea. The sooner I can finish it the sooner I can click the kettle on and get to my already primed coffee plunger: dark, strong, sweet, I like to be kicked in my gut.

I'm alive. And a loner. My phone’s been off since I got back from a waste of a time of a night-out, as I so well knew it would be. Some of my behavior's addictive; I’ve been known to hit myself on the head with a hammer and to, still, ask why it hurts.

It was yesterday that I calmly wrote those words in my morning pages.

Tonight I edit them at Cafe Ganesh, on dry red wine. With crayfish samosas partly camouflaged by Irish-green coriander. Steaming baked pita anxiously waiting to be broken, like the body of Christ, then dunked into an inconsequential glass petri dish over-filled with hummus; the equivalent of entering Jerusalem on a donkey.

Chicken satay on a square plate. Chips.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Rain 1

The winter Rain has (hopefully) arrived. It slashed my bedroom window on Wednesday night and obliterated the harbour and distant Robben island from my sight.

My sigh was one of deep relief.

The weather in Cape Town has been horribly upside down because of the El Nino effect AND climate change. Record temperatures. Records are being broken in the worst possible sense:

March temperature smashes 100-year global record

Great Barrier Reef: 93% of reefs hit by coral bleaching

Florida wakes up to climate change

Greenland sees record-smashing early ice sheet melt

2015 smashes record for hottest year, final figures confirm

SA is under the tyranny of its worst drought in a century and 2015 was the driest year ever. I tentatively hope we're at the tail end of it, well of this session of it.

It leaves me horribly unsettled about now, and the immediate future. The long-term one is a foregone fuck up; I believe that it's just too damn late.

Perhaps, selfishly, I'm grateful I don't and won't have children... I could not 'gift' them this.

It's Earth Day.