Transplanted from Johannesburg (where only the strong survive) I find myself living in this amazing city that sits at the bottom of the great continent, Africa. A city roughed up but cleansed by the Cape Doctor, which people decry but I suspect actually are proud of, for after the raging southeaster the mountains miraculously settle into awesome serenity, the sun shines and all is bathed in the most extraordinary light which makes photographers ecstatic, architecture superfluous, citizens laidback.
The decision as to where to put one’s roots down in this fairest Cape had to be made in unnatural haste (what is new for a body from Joeys?) The estate agents were many and eager, the properties amazing; as were the prices – it was soon evident Gauteng money did not match Cape properties. However, love at first sight was a small grey house snuggled beneath the grandeur of Elsies Peak with a view towards Simon’s Town where, on that first viewing day, the sea sparkled with amazing shades of azure and the seemingly small white yachts danced to my delight, the arc of the clearly defined Hottentot-Holland Mountains embraced the eastern aspect. The tang of the sea, the whiff of the fynbos proved too much of an aphrodisiac for this up-country girl and I signed upon the dotted line.
Concerned, lifelong friends, anxious for my wellbeing, muttered about the loneliness and hazards of moving to a new town ‘at my time of life’, watched with misgivings as I pointed my heavily loaded vehicle determinedly south. My small dog and I were off on the ‘yellow brick road’.
Problems, hitches there were aplenty – but with the mantra, “I can do this” things tumbled surprisingly into place. Serendipity.
The neighbours were welcoming, sons helpful. Only the unknown in this curve of the bay – but armed with a couple of contact names I was soon taking notes, picking up hints from all and sundry. “Friends of the Library” became my friends, the people and their dogs on the beach wanted to know where we came from. Fish Hoek round the corner, a very convenient village with every service, shop available become an expedition. Things to do? Wow! The designing of a new garden in a challenging environment, a wealth of birds, an introduction to the U3A. Again, serendipity! Life, fun and learning took off. I had found my oyster.
Yes, the wind blows, the rain comes down, the mist partially obscures the moutains and makes the day soft, grey, full of mysterious billowing clouds, the sun reappears, sparkles. The western evening sky is ablaze with reds and oranges while the bay is bathed in reflected pastels that can turn it into a bowl of gold, or shimmering pink, while a gaggle of tiny kayaks make their brave way across this vast bay. The wind roars and from my window, I marvel at the skill of the heroic kite surfers. I even brave the Atlantic waters for a swim, I walk the mountain paths with views too stunning for mundane words of praise, and stare in wonder at the diversity of flowers, share a glass of wine and a laugh with dear new friends. It is here, smiling, walking, talking, living where I’ve met my soul and my prayer as the light fades each evening is, “Thank you, Lord”.
By Arleen Francois, Glencairn