Another Monday morning, another week unfolding. Got up at 5am, yawned through meditation, put on some old pants and weeded the front garden before watering, tugging up stubborn runners of grass and digging out the sly roots of a wild sweet pea scrambler that strangles young plants if not checked. Then came indoors and wrote more fiction, scribbling away in a notebook as my tea went cold. Took the dog out into the back garden and threw a ball for him, combed my small dogs, chatted with the housemate over a muesli breakfast. A catalogue of what need not be recorded, I suppose, the minutiae of dailiness.
Outside, neighbours are walking dogs, jogging and cycling before it gets any hotter. Municipal workers brandishing scythes and weed-eaters, trimming the verges of village streets.
Swallows doing figures of eight over the rooftops, a falcon lazily circling in the distance.
This is of course an illusion, the peace and quiet of a small dorp or farming town, the clouds drifting overhead, the crates of ripe tomatoes stacked high in farmers’ pick-up trucks, the scything of late summer grasses. Things are tough here. Many properties are listed for sale, businesses are closing down, farms going bankrupt as the global depression hits harder. It is an unspeakable relief not to wake up ill and sweating with panic, dread, or shame any longer, but the sober day holds its own challenges, uneasiness, the wrestling with stubborn weeds and text that needs to be rewritten or, worse, written differently, the constant effort of selling work, of economising, paying for essentials, cutting back, working harder.
The Great Dane is chasing his tail round and round under the trees, not a care in the world.
The housemate talks on the phone with a man suffering from prostate cancer, calmly discussing courses of treatments, working out petrol costs for travelling to specialists, the cost of a hospital bed if one might be available, the unpaid leave to be taken. Up the road there is a workshop on living with diabetes, another workshop on ending violence against women and children, teaching anger management to men back from Libya, establshing yet another shelter for women, a refuge that must be funded somehow.
On the far side of the village, there is a golfing tournament. Smooth bright green lawns ribboning in an artificial meander amidst the dusty veld, luxuriously watered while locals queue up to buy drinking water. A number of the farmers’ sons are playing in the tournament and then leaving on a trip: they have organised an expedition to cull elephants in Botswana and are loading up their Range Rovers with rifles, whisky, cooler boxes of deli foods, and bundles of vine stumps for firewood. Tourists have booked to join them as observers and are paying a small fortune flying out to join this murderous safari. My stomach turns over with queasiness.
Neighborliness, natural beauty, poverty, cruelty and violence, so much from which I once fled. Now I shall take off my grubby gardening clothes, sit in a hot bath and contemplate the abyss. Then take a deep breath and start over, one deadline at a time, one protest at a time, one act of human kindness at a time. Letting my heart crack open like a ripe pomegranate, the white membrane stained red, the juiciness spilling out unaccounted for, profligate, abundant.