Behind the nearest range of granite mountains, veld fires are raging, driven across fields, orchards and vineyards by a strong north wind. We go out to help throw wet sacks onto pallets of fruit stacked outside packing sheds and watch helicopters tip massive buckets of sea water onto lines of flame. The only real drama this festive season, outranking all the petty stuff. Wild animals in flight, so many small tortoises incinerated, fledgling birds choked on the thick smoke. The land alight, lines of fire licking at the edges of squatter camps from which people flee with cardboard boxes of bedding and pots, fire crawling deep into thickets amidst the mountain ravines, leaping the dry river beds.
You cannot live on this continent without learning to live with cruelty and extremes, with fire and floods, with a paucity of resources, with suffering and indifference, with myriad powerless places.
And the morning light is phosphorescent: I sit up in a yellow-eyed dawn writing and drafting out new sentences, finding my way to a new voice. The need for growth and change, this too, as so often when the solstice pauses and the season turns. Just say what it is like, just tell the story without shying from the rougher truths, let the ugliness in along with the beauty. Hope sometimes is found only in broken places.
It was a celebratory time, a quiet and lovely time, not an easy time but good. Another year of coming through, another year touched by invisible grace in unexpected places.