When I woke up it was raining heavily and I lay listening to rain like crazy percussion on the corrugated roof of the stoep. No al fresco brunches or vineyard rambles.
So we drove out to friends and sat in a canernous 18th-century kitchen with hearth and mantel and black cast-iron pots, nibbling on incernerated croissants and fighting over Bircher muesli and lightly scrambled eggs. How talkative we all are out in the countryside! We read until late at night ( no television reception in many valleys) and walk dogs through lonely woods and dream by woodburning stoves.
Then the rain stopped and it was a pleasure to head up over the Elandskloof Pass with the dammed river like a steel engraving far below, woods turning yellow and ashen and burgundy. Smell of apples all over that valley, inexplicable. It is a place of hidden farms and steep hillsides and towering mountains and arching gentian-blue skies.
This mellow season, the vines reddening and flaking off against the weathered fences, the old roses soft as butter, the pin oaks bright as copper coins — it is a season of nostalgia and I resist nostalgia these days. I often feel that alcoholics in recovery cannot afford the luxury of a broken heart and so I put certain memories out of mind. The sentimental has lost its appeal.
What matters is the moment and the slow death of that former self with her reactivity, tears and grievances. I do not mean this harshly — but here and now is all I have in sobriety, the sacrament of the present moment, the encounter with now. So autumn has come to represent a kind of slow graceful dying to what has gone before.
And waking up to the present, the possibility of just being here in a valley full of birds and apple groves in the blue shadow of high mountains. Friendship, work, togetherness with others doing it one day at a time.