Discovered last night that after after a few happy weeks of perfecting Tuscan bean recipes I am unable to get into my favourite pair of denims. Got up early and trotted, then walked, then ambled up the hill to a spot overlooking the valley. I stood near a peeling eucalyptus tree surrounded with thorny acacia looking down on the sleeping village with spiralling woodsmoke and low mist like vapour trails, paused to smell the dusty acrid veld odour that is pure Africa, got my breath back and came down again to coffee and hot bread rolls. I’ll try again tomorrow and have grapefruit for breakfast. Gardening is not exercise, whatever they say. A good hard walk uphill is the best way to start the day.
In December I will be able to swim in the ocean while we are on holiday and the idea of plunging into salty green waves and diving in clear rock pools makes me feel quite ecstatic. The beaches near Cape Agulhas are very unspoilt and lonely, so I shall probably see dolphins and a great number of sea birds. All along the sea front near Struisbaai, there are dunes, wild grasses and flowering salt-tolerant bushes to be viewed from raised boardwalks, perfect for long walks, stopping every now and again to swim. Hearing the mermaids calling each to each. I want to come back tanned and fit and re-energised. Playing beside the sea always brings out the Annabel Lee child in me, the longing for a spade and bucket and shrimping net.
Writing (like drinking), is a sedentary solitary occupation and it is always a reprieve to be able to get away from the desktop work and out of doors, to watch families picnicking on the beach, holidaymakers walking dogs, kids playing with frisbees or having a game of volleyball. At night we can sit out under the stars enjoying the balmy offshore breezes, trying to spot Sirius, the Dog Star. And wake before dawn to go out and watch the sun come up over the ocean. Another gift of sobriety.
Enough daydreaming, time to get back to work. Before it gets too hot I have to go out and plant out a small silver-grey curry bush next to an old-fashioned Salvia leucantha. While I’m busy with that I can do a few hundred knee bends or at least flex my calves once or twice. Listen to the menopausal body talking back.