The vileness of post-nasal drip.
But I am getting better and the housemate is not getting worse. The dogs are lazier and less inclined to exercise after days of somnolence. The tomato seedlings are flourishing, the coriander is bolting in the heat, the basil is growing in fits and starts.
Getting better. The writing urge comes back and sentences form like tendrils winding around verbs and unlikely prepositions, a character comes up and introduces himself, says he arrived while I was sleeping, a tall weary-looking man with bony wrists and a snag tooth, in search of an author who may not as yet know what to do with him. I zest oranges, limes, clementines, lemons and plan to toss up a citrussy saffron-flavoured couscous with toasty pine-nuts and baby romaine leaves, my usual appetite coming back. And sociability — friends arrive with supper invitations, there are children’s carol concerts, festive meals to be cooked for the elderly and indigent, neighborliness. December is racing past — there are pyramids of ripe watermelons, honeydew melons, stripy green and silver melons, bitter gourds to be found on sale at roadside farm stalls. Fresh fish caught before dawn at the coast and on sale here by 9am.
At the far end of the village where the road will lead to a national highway, buses and mini-bus taxis are loading up with Xhosa passengers heading home to the Eastern Cape for Christmas, a day’s drive across the Kei and Fish Rivers to the Amatola Mountains and the slopes of the Winterberg or down to the kraal of whispering reeds at Lusikisiki, to the stormy surf and rocky promontories of the Wild Coast. These are the ancestral homelands of the Xhosa tribal clans, the landscape and society in which Nelson Mandela grew up and where he now lives. Going home at the end of another year, a global phenomenon.