There is a gritty grey wind tearing through the garden and house, shrivelling my old Crepuscule rose and knocking olive branches together, a rattling misery of a wind. I woke up this morning to discover I have become great-aunt to a tiny puce-faced baby boy in the Antipodes. As always family communication is erratic and ambiguous but I like to think of myself as a y0ungish great-aunt. Perhaps one day this little boy will travel back to the Dark Continent Filled with Light and I shall get to know him, see in his eyes and smile some traces of my dead brother, my own grandmother, the Scottish kin who came out to Africa so long ago.
And my housemate is overjoyed to find that she does not need a knee replacement, just arthroscopy. I am getting ready to nurse her after the treatment, searching out tubes of arnica and warming oils and antiseptic herbs. Soft linen dressings and pillows so she can keep her feet up. A glass bowl of flowers on her bedside table, water jugs, hot water bottles, a blue and cream mohair rug. I know quite well that the patient has no intention of resting in bed, that she will be up and limping about, eager to get back to work. But it calms me to sort out salves and fluff up pillows, so I do it all the same.
To celebrate the arrival of a new baby, I am painting a large landscape with wide African skies, blue airy spaces and tumbling cumulus. There is a brown river and a village of shapeshifting sorcerers, hyena magicians, samango monkeys in tall trees, yellow-eyed African crocodiles. My brush technique is not up to any of this magic-making and everything is a little blobby. The sky looks good though.
Sober and a great-aunt, I am ready to try any new adventure. We learn by going/where we have to go.