Saturday, July 19, 2014

Muizenburg blues (and pinks)

I'm drinking, unusually, a big cup of strong, sweet tea that's covered with a posey of roses, its matching teapot too, which to my eyes is quite victorian style, or for a - um, slightly - more modern context 'Biggy Best'. 

I'm relieved, too, that Table Mountain is again bathed in gorgeous sunshine at the end of a grey-ugly and limp day; just as the icky 'Sunday afternoon blues' (something I've not suffered from since a child) was just beginning to nibble at my toes. 

It's already a week later that I'm musing over my short two-night stay in Muizenburg.

I'm sitting at my usual table, the one at the window: If I look right, which is northwards, it's a mere 5 km to Sea Point, which is on the Atlantic seaboard, and a good pace for coffee or ice cream, but is still part of this world. 

While to my left, or southwards, it's only 26 km to Muizenburg beach, which is on the Indian ocean. But another world:  When I was there, Woodstock and Cape Town felt far away. Very far away. The fact that people there are very different to the city folk thirty minutes away, also exacerbates the sense of farawayness. It felt like another province, sometimes even another country.

That first afternoon I walked four or so kilometres further to quaint and even more otherworldly Kalk Bay. There I sat, it felt, in the very ocean itself as the high tide buffeted the Brass Bell as I looked back at Muizenburg, also the at snow-capped Hottentot's Holland mountains on the far side of False bay. Exceptr for not having a car, I'm dead keen to again explore that southern, more remote coastline. 

Although still early, it felt like dusk; the winter sun disapears behind the mountain and into Noordhoek and Hout Bay from 14h00 in some places. I shuddered at the thought of the cold afternoon homes with magnificent vierws, and their sunrises are mind blowing.

The distance from the city, and being amongst less hurried and seemingly much more creative folk, many barefoot, sun browned with sea bleached hair - these are people obviously in touch with the Ocean, its tides and rhythms - somehow stimulated my overall contentment hand-in hand with an of my own creativity, and contemplation; I'd certainly not given thought to my mortality for a while. 

I'm getting up now to close the windows; the sun is setting behind The Mountain and behind it, into the deepest, furtherest Atlantic, and with that the temperature plummets. It's right now that, if I had a car, I'd take a drive into the sunset and to catch a beer, or a glass or two of red at a friendly place along the coast that's hesitatingly relinquishing the weekend. Instead I'll stay put; and tomorrow's back to school.

After the Brass Bell I chose the coastal path between the busy railway track and the ion-laden ocean spray back to Muizenburg. Even though it was high tide and the chances of getting dumped on by icy seawater were good - rather a scintillating collision with the elements than the busy, loud and polluted narrow peak-hour road.

Everything was bathed in pastel pinks, which made me even happier that I wasn't returning to the city, that both the evening and the next day were mine to sqaunder in any way that I might choose. In that moment I understood that I was exactly in my life where I wanted to be: after years of working, mostly, as a freelance journalist under enormous stresses and pressure, chasing the buck, I was now in a space where the buck didn't mean that much to me any longer. Instead, now, time alone on the beach, or having coffee with people I love, time to lie in the sun reading a book is priceless. 

Even at this late hour, despite the cold, there were people about and surfers in the ocean; I was alone, but didn't feel alone. Ironically, after my contemplations around my mortality and that I was vibrating with life, I knew I had no fear of death.

Then looking back over the way I'd come, also conscious of weary leg muscles, I looked ever more forward to lighting a fire in the old but perfectly preserved Edwardian hearth that's an arm's length from the bookshelf. 

There were some good old friends on the shelf, not to mention human ones in the house I had retreated to, and the bottle of Porcupine Ridge shiraz I'd managed to get, along with an as yet unknown merlot at the tiny liquor store in Kalk Bay. 

Clink! To roaring fires, winter bedding and to fluffy and preening cats... .

Right now, as I type these words, lights are coming on across Woodstock, as is the call to prayer from the local mosque, and the evening wind is picking up. Even though, against my better judgement, I foolishly allowed myself, this weekend, to get caught up in the swirl of negativity that is most of the world's news. With my heart going out to the the civilians in Gaza and the family and friends of the victims of the downed Air Malaysia flight, I've now corrected my balance by reachiing into the divine.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasise in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

- Howard Zinn


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