House of illness. The housemate goes back and forth from the clinic having tests for heart problems and a mysterious shadow on one lung, tired and breathless. In a response that is bad timing combined with stress, I have developed an upper respiratory tract infection along with nosebleeds. We take turns to wash dishes, make beds, sweep the floor, make soups and hot drinks of lemon, grated ginger and honey, shivering indoors as temperatures soar. The dogs act up, detecting a lack of authority and confidence in their human companions.
The daily watering of seed trays that was such a pleasure, tiny leaves unfurling, plants blooming overnight, has become drudgery. It has to be done, dripping water into trays and making sure cardboard egg boxes don’t dry out. There are dogs to be fed, a pot of chicken soup that must go on for supper.
My neighbour knocked his head on the gate and cut his forehead open. I rushed out to check on him and had a vehement nosebleed, we stood together gushing blood and reassuring one another. A falcon lazily circling over the fields, squirrels jumping from branch to branch in a nearby pin oak.
How strange to go to bed in the middle of the day, to lie shivering under a duvet cover while turtle doves coo outside in the — I keep thinking kwartel tree, but that is the Afrikaans name for the tree besieged by kwartels or quail, the name is locquat tree — and cicadas thrum away in the heat.
To stay in the moment and be patient, not to let my imagination run away with me, to wait for renewed health, for test results, to see what has to be done next, to see what tomorrow will bring. What else is there? The old fantasies of escape played out and given up. Now there is the sun in hot glittering panels on the kitchen floor, the clock ticking in quiet rooms, the felt knowledge of human frailty. Just this, the here and now.