Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday night party

When he sat down next to me I could almost smell that rich, earthy, moss smell. He reminded me of a beautiful, old tree with gnarled bark that tells a thousand stories, its tree toes snuggled in the rich earth, a coat of moss to keep it warm. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but he was the closest thing I've ever come across to a tree, other than an actual tree of course.

He had an air of sadness, though, that I recognised instantly. A loneliness that coursed through his veins, although we were surrounded by people at the party. A country creature in the city, we discussed my country longings and I envied his home in the hills.

She had bright red lips and flaming orange hair. She painted my lips the same red and, momentarily, I felt slutty and beautiful. I hadn't met her before, but I'd heard about her. The now-not-so-new girlfriend of a friend of mine. I was pleased, she's lovely and they seem truly happy and well-suited.

A drummer started the dancing. We all gathered, the cool crowd and me, a heaving mass of party people, noisy, vibey, but still, the loneliness, as I felt the beat go through me and shouted out for more. He was obliging and I wished I could take him home, put him in a corner of my lounge and get him to beat a life-affirming rhythm whenever I felt the urge.

A tree man, a girl with flaming orange hair and blood red lips, a clutch of old friends around flames in tin cans, then home to bed with avo on toast. Friday night in The City beneath the Mountain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bumping back to reality

Coming back from our idyllic mountain stay I landed back in the city with a series of heartbreaking bumps. We bought a newspaper on the road back and G read the devastating report of the tragedy in Norway. It worries me that, as a society, we seem to be breeding this kind of violence. My heart goes out to the families of those children and, mostly, to the children who were there, who must surely be gripped by a fear and horror that is hard to imagine.

Then the news of Amy Winehouse – not unexpected, but still sad. She was a talented and obviously conflicted woman. Hopefully she has now found her peace. If only the gossip press would leave it alone. All this talk of speculation about how she died? Honestly, we all know. Let her be now, just let it go.

The most devastating and the point at which my heart really boke, though, was when I logged in to Stalkbook, the bearer of all news, good or bad. A wonderful friend of mine from school was found dead in her apartment by her husband. Her daughter is three. She was 36-years old. A strange story really – they lived in South America, so far away from home and family, and apparently she said she was tired and went for a nap. A while later her husband went to check on her and she was dead.

It just all seems so wrong and out of sync but I suppose that’s the nature of death. It’s incomprehensible, despite the fact that it is a truth for everybody at some point. Things like this, though, make me sit up and pay attention because so often I forget to do so. Life is so incredibly fragile, every interaction with every creature may be the last you have. Because of this, I am reminding myself to be a little kinder, gentler. To be sure that the people I love, know that I love them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the mountains

Despite the grey, the place is spectacular. In fact, the grey may even make it more spectacular. The mountains tower above us like ancient giants and the quiet is interrupted only by the hundreds of weaver birds who are building nests in the pepper tree in front of the verandah, their other birdie friends and the “hee-haw” of Milly, Tilly and Violet, the three donkeys who amble about the valley, wherever they like. Truly free-range.

The house is 150-years old and overlooks an apricot orchard, beyond which the mountain towers. Behind it, the second range reaches even higher into the sky, their tops shrouded in cloud. There are raptors here that nest in the crags and soar through the crisp, clear, fresh air. Idyllic.

The baby boys love it. They run and look and explore, dragging Grandpa behind them, running to tell Mummy, Granny, me, G, what they saw – water, mountains, donkeys, piggies, sheep, the list seems endless. They, and we, sleep like babies, in the oh-so-dark night, undisturbed by any lights from the city. The isolation is blissfully complete.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Away we go

The sun is shining in preparation for our weekend away. We’re all going – my mother and father, sister and the delicious now 2-year old nephews and G. Unfortunately N, my sister’s partner has to go to Ghana for work which is crap, so she’s not coming. We’re going off into the countryside, in the mountains where we’ll celebrate my father’s upcoming 70th and the babies 2nd birthdays last week.

It’s shining now, but the forecast is rain for much of the weekend. It doesn’t matter though, we’re going to a house up in the mountains where the air is fresh and there are donkeys. The baby boys have galoshes which they love to the point of wanting to wear them instead of slippers in the morning and after their bath, to bed.

The baby boys are bliss-inducing. They turned two last week, can you believe? It seems like yesterday that my sister was on the verge of popping. They’re intelligent, engaging, funny, highly verbal and interested in everything. Delicious. Such fun having them to stay all week. It’s been a whirl of animal noises, fish fingers, giggles and running around after The Siamese Princess who is, I fear, not as impressed as I.

And then, away we go tomorrow. Into those faraway hills. Yipeee!

Just to show you how big they are - a picture of them at the aquarium, above, which they loved.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gone dreaming

I've been busy having something I would liken to a mid-life crisis I think. Mild anxiety with a strong urge to flee into the countryside where the air is fresh(er) and the sky is vast. In between mid-life-crisising, I have been having some fun, fretting about how I could possibly have become old enough to have a mid-life crisis, and attempting to do a lot of work to keep the wolves from the door.

Life, I guess, is what you'd call it. I keep having sudden moments of clarity, though, when I think that I'm sticking around too long, waiting for something to happen. It's not going to happen without a push and there's nobody in my vicinity who's going to make the push for me, so best I get myself going. Half the time I'm so tired that I have to drag myself out of bed, though, making the task of going to buy a firecracker, then light it, and stick it under my bum just too exhausting to contemplate.

I'm trying, really I am, and that's the most I can do. I'm trying to keep those clear moments at the fore, hatching plans, dreaming things, trying to catch the dreams and make them my reality. In the meantime, I'm trying to remain grateful for what I have which is, don't get me wrong, a hell of a lot, and I'm looking out of my turret across to the mountains far away there and dreaming. There's a woman in the building opposite who seems to be doing the same thing - I can see her leaning out of her window in the sun, just thinking.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dreaming of wheat fields

We followed the ribbon of tar that leads upupup into Africa to the desert, drove past the Ugly Duckling Beauty Salon and looked into the Lucky Lips CafĂ© in the small town that boasts that it’s the cleanest town in the country.Then we left it behind us and drove through fields of bright green lucerne, to the even smaller town, the one that doesn’t even have a petrol pump, the one where Tannie Anna stood outside the bottle store, red guitar in hand.

To a cottage with thick stone walls and a fireplace, surrounded by stillness. I could breathe, huge lungsful of clear, crisp Winter air, the sounds of birds twittering. We ambled over to the pub, me with my book, G to watch the rugby upstairs. The view from my window looked like a painting – two adjoining fields, one golden, one emerald in the fading afternoon sun before the clouds came over, bursting with big, fat drops.

She’s from Holland, so doesn’t speak Afrikaans, the pretty girl that walked in looking for Oliver. He was upstairs, watching the rugby, but she sat next to the bar and ordered a tomato juice. It was taken to the kitchen and seemed to be taking awfully long, which we started discussing. I asked if she wanted a Bloody Mary, because it seemed that was what was coming and she told me that no, she couldn’t, because deep inside her a tiny foetus is growing. I clasped this secret information to my breast, a beautiful little glimpse into somebody else’s life, as I explained to the bar lady in Afrikaans, feeling protective of this stranger and her little secret burrowed inside her, that just tomato juice was required, no vodka.

We chatted for a bit, then I returned to my book until a disappointed-in-the-rugby G came down and we ate tomato bredie in front of the fire to warm our tummies and cheer her up. A young girl and her boyfriend were entertaining the boyfriend’s parents in the next room and she kept escaping and coming to chat, exclaiming they were the only two in the village under 50-year’s old. We spoke of longing to be in such a place and her boyfriend basically invited us to stay with them, desperate for young(er) company.

And then back to our little cottage with its fireplace and rietdak ceiling, the rain playing music on the tin roof. Even the manager was away for the weekend so it was all ours. Blissfully quiet, woken by birds and the sound of the church bells up the hill.

Driving home we took a back road, through emerald lucerne fields dotted about with lambs, it was surreally beautiful and I wished not to go back to the city. I pleaded with G to turn left and not right, gulping air, feeling wistful. She was feeling the same as we trudged back into the city lights. My heart feels heavy with a longing that I fear may consume me.