Tousled and drowsy on a Sunday morning, I catch sight of my swollen face in a mirror — I have some kind of facial neuralgia and the right side of my face is round as a lumpy moon. Somatised stress or a jaw abcess?
Wavery shimmering lines of horizon as we walk through fields, the ditches blue with rainwater. The glitter of broken cobwebs.Further south, along the coast, pods of Southern Right whales (Eubalaena australis) will be sheltering in the bays, preparing to calve in warmer waters, spring sunshine. Idly I think of Hobbes’ Leviathon, Melville’s Moby Dick, the long mysterious relationship humankind has had with these massive inscrutable creatures. These whales I shall see breeching and lobtailing in the sun-warmed ocean will have travelled thousands of kilometres from feeding grounds in Antarctica. Many of our older harbours and sea ports here began as whaling stations (that profitable wholesale slaughter of the 19th century) but whales have been protected in local waters since 1935. Just to be able to stay present to what is larger than the claustrophobic circle of immediate concern, to watch the wind blowing the grasses back on the veld, the branches of the poplars fuzzy with new foliage, the reddening buds of the alder. Thinking about what anchors me, writing as a daily discipline, talking with friends: embracing it all, the unknowable, the stuff that makes me flinch with aversion, the cold clammy grip of fear. What is there now, what holds me in place, what is yet to come, to take it all in. Saying to myself, as so many times before, that courage is the watchword. To take courage from what i have lived through before. To show a little courage now, a big soft woollen scarf wrapped around the stricken face, blinking fearlessly into an icy wind, noticing the beauty and power of black trees turning green on the far side of the field.