Home is where the art is
In addition to seeing old friends and revisiting beloved places, another wondrous thing about returning to South Africa was being able to retrieve numerous prints I’ve collected over the years. It has been a joyous reunion indeed — after all, when it comes to transforming a house into a home, few things are as effective as art is.
My five-week visit to the motherland went as quick as a flash. A few highlights:
A dip at Dalebrook; jumping off my favourite boulder at Bakoven; wallowing in a rock pool at Papkuilsfontein
Rambling in a mistbelt forest above Pietermaritzburg; strolls along Sea Point promenade; a sunrise summiting of Lion’s Head; climbing a giant baobab in Pafuri
The balm of being in the veld entirely without internet for several (too-short) days
Tending, over the course of several hours, to a potjie; tasting it later! (Karoo lamb, o how I’ve missed you)
Biltong, boerewors, braaibroodjies and roosterkoek
The cashier at Woolies who, seeing how many bottles of wine I was buying, asked if the next day was a public holiday (it was not)
Lunch at at Bo-Kaap Kombuis: a Cape Malay feast with a view
Seeing Jane Alexander’s creepy AF sculptures at Stevenson during (yet another) power outage
Surviving, unscathed, the profusion of potholes en route to Leshiba reserve in the Soutpansberg (the hiking, oversized bath tub and mountain views were well worth the stress)
Watching four endangered Southern Ground Hornbill (one of them a scraggly chick) cross the road in Kruger National Park
The hypnotically tranquil views of the Luvuvhu river at Pel’s Post in Pafuri (soundtrack: fish eagles wailing; the duetted urgency of black collared barbets); the spectral silence of Pafuri’s fever tree forests which we visited while staying there
On a game walk while visiting the sublime Singita Sweni: communing with the endemic euphorbias and pod mahoganies that dot the Lebombo’s ridges, then encountering two snoozing lions shortly before we returned to the vehicle
I was pretty bummed to have to leave the South African bushveld, but two nights in Joburg and a week on the US’s East Coast quickly had me relishing a return to the redwoods.
Not long after getting back to California, I spent a week cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the AIDS/LifeCycle. Notwithstanding the chafing and a saddle sore, it was a spectacular way to become (re)acquainted with my home state. Here are a few pics from the ride.
While I was away, a beloved mentor passed away quite out of the blue. This, along with a couple of other recent, juddering reminders of life’s precarity and its preciousness, make me want to celebrate and treasure connection even more so than before. It’s so easy to take life, and relationships, for granted — as if both are made of stone — but, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes in her poignant Notes on Grief, “layers of loss make life feel papery thin”.
Signs of the times:
You get your first cold in ~three years (two at-home tests confirm it really is just a cold…)
After months of ignoring your sourdough starter you discover its surface features a cornucopia of colours and textures including tiny red, round blobs that look alarmingly like drops of blood
The untouched tahini you bought to make hummus during the “let’s make everything from scratch” phase of the pandemic is, two years later, near its expiration date (so as not to waste it I then made the damn hummus using this Cook’s Illustrated recipe… it was so quick and easy to make — and yummy — that I couldn’t quite believe it took me this long)