How sweet to find Valentines in email poems and to be planning a Valentine’s Day for lovers and friends and anyone-else-at-a-loose-end supper with iced cucumber soup and spicy butternut pilaff, ripe plums with ice cream for dessert! The plums are magnificent this year.
We’ll eat late because the heat is terrible and my housemate has had several angina attacks and suffered with heat exhaustion all weekend. Elderly villagers are ill with heat stroke and there are babies suffering with dehydration. My neighbour’niece in shock because she had a frightening car accident the other evening. No counselling out here so she will have to travel for hours to see someone who might help her. This is a brutal country. Another accident, an unknown Xhosa man, a job seeker who had been walking through the mountains all day from farm to farm, was run down and killed by a reckless driver, and I think of his family waiting for him to return and not knowing he is dead. The desperation of the poor is so extreme, even while emails of jubilation and hopefulness arrive from Egypt.
One of my publishers suggested I learn to Twitter and I have been following tweets from all kinds of people. If I want to say anything of significance in 140 words, I will need to become more epigrammatic. Sigh.
Away from socila media, I’m rereading the Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro in awe and admiration, that willingness to look hard at the unlikeable aspects of the young woman Munro herself was once. In sobriety the drinking is no longer an excuse for what we find lurking in our own motivations and ambivalence. The more courageously and truthfully we face ourselves, the less power the old demons hold over us.
And fortunately there is always love: transient, troubling, unrequited, unbalanced, impossible. What would we do without it?