Baboons play on our stoep under swinging bead mobiles and eat my newly-planted butternuts. They play in my kitchen and throw eggs on the floor. They play on the car, hanging from the side mirror to see their funny faces and they squeeze through tiny gaps in the burglar bars to sample the Spar sliced bread.
It wasn’t like this in the Karkloof. We had horses there. A white horse and a black horse and some brown horses flicked their tails at flies in a nearby paddock of tufty grass. In the Karkloof we had fire and had to run for our lives. We also had floods and thought our cottage would float on the water to another valley. But here in the South we have baboons and squirrels, fynbos and whales, the sea for swimming and the mountains for climbing. And we have the southeaster!
I never thought I would get over my passion for the rolling grasslands of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains or the forested cliffs of the Karkloof. I thought I would pine for our cottage on the plot and all the green grass and eucalyptus forests. I thought my three cats would never get over my swopping that huge wild open space for urban slopes and cars at night.
I do still pine and the cats are still depressed. In the KwaZulu-Natal midlands we had a country lifestyle, muddy roads and long walks. We swam in a waterfall and listened to the guineafowl at dawn and dusk.
But here we have the baboons. We are happy in the South! When Jordan and I arrived in Simonstown in March 2008 to start our new lives, he was 4 months old and I was a new mother. We absorbed the pleasure of the waterfall from our house on the hill and watched the navy boats coming and going. I planted aloes and fynbos and herbs in pots.
And I walked those hills flat to get Jordan out. I found guineafowls and long walks. But I could not find the daily summer thunderstorms on a KwaZulu-Natal afternoon. Now I have the southeaster!
It chops up the waves on the sea and rockets kite surfers to dangerous rocks. It whips sand onto the train tracks and creates new dunes on the pavements. It rocks the lampposts and unsettles my psyche.
And I have noticed that the sea is overwhelming here. It is bluer than aqua and colder than ice in summer. When the full moon rises above the ocean and the air is rich with the stench of kelp, I am happy. The full moon and the smell of the sea do it for me here in the South.
Jordan is two now. We live in Welcome Glen and walk or drive to the beach. We swim in the waves and hike the paths on the mountains around us. We play down the road at the park and stroke the horses in the stables a block away. We sip wine on the stoep in summer and throw logs on the fire in winter. We grow indigenous trees, fynbos and herbs for the kitchen in our garden and we play ball on our sand dune lawns.
Sometimes at night it comes to me: the soft rolling grasslands of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains and the forested cliffs of the Karkloof. I see blue views and horses and I cry in my heart. Tears wet my cheeks and I imagine Jordan running through paddocks with the wind for a friend. But then the baboons come to visit and I marvel at their antics and I think to myself: I am happy in the South!
Written by Janis Theron
14 December 2009