Nuts are falling from the macadamia trees and a troop of vervet monkeys have discovered them. They line up in the rooikrantz trees in the veld watching for any sign of the dogs or me before launching a raid into the garden when they think the coast is clear. If Ben and Dingo see them they tumble outside, howling and baying like wild dogs, the monkeys scatter over the fence like grey bullets. Barking warnings to one another, they take up safe positions in the higher trees and hurl insults at the dogs – it’s interesting because they mimic the dogs’ barks.
I’m still feeding the wildlife in the area – over the last three weeks I’ve lost about eight chickens. Some of the smaller ones have disappeared completely but I found the half eaten carcasses of three larger ones and suspect a wild cat of some sort. If you wonder why I can only estimate the number lost it’s because I’ve discovered two broody hens hiding in different spots in the garden – one is sitting on nineteen eggs and the other on thirty two eggs– so heaven knows if there are more hiding out.
Winter has been a time of sorting out the house and property. It’s a slow season for tourists so has given me a chance to focus on something other than the gallery. A friend helped me with many of the outside jobs – clearing a firebreak, building a path down into the forest and making a movable chicken run. The path is especially welcome because venturing into the valley before was quite a dangerous undertaking requiring an advanced degree in rock skating. I’ve prepped raised vegetable beds but the chickens think they are wonderful for having dirt baths in so I’m going to have to cover the beds with shade cloth to keep the blighters out. Inside the house I’ve been sorting through cupboards and disposing of things I no longer need – that’s the problem with lots of space, one tends to fill it over time. I also seem to have inherited everything from trinkets to furniture from various family members but it has to go – possessions can be such a burden.
With the gallery being quiet I’ve had a chance to travel a little – went up to Pretoria and Port Elizabeth to visit with family and friends, both trips were lovely. In Pretoria I went hiking with my daughter at the Fountains Nature reserve the day before Zuma’s inauguration – it was a multi- sensory experience tiptoeing through the bushes to watch kudu grazing in dense bush whilst jets practicing formation flying roared overhead. I grew up on airports and the roar of an aircraft still turns me on so, although I did manage a few shots of the kudu, most of my ‘wildlife’ photos are of sleek jets hurtling over my head – awesome.
Most recently I drove to PE with the dogs and my grandchildren in the car and passing through the wind farm near PE we encountered a huge storm system approaching. There was a double rainbow which we chased for miles through the huge white windmills spinning lazily in the wind and silhouetted against the dark grey sky, all this was bathed in that wonderful golden light that one only sees in African storms. I know many people are opposed to wind farms but I find them beautiful and very soothing to watch, a great deal prettier than a coal mine. The children enjoyed the chase but just when it seemed we’d reach the end of the rainbow it would shift ahead or across the road – was a lovely magic carpet ride. By the way, the morning I returned from PE to the Brak the temperature recorded at Butterworth (I think) was -16.5C ! Yeeuch.
Whilst in PE I visited the Grahamstown Festival with two friends – all I really wanted to see were the installations and the art exhibitions and we were spoilt for choice, next year I have to go for longer. Last time I was there was 16 to 20 years ago when I had a street stall – now there are no more street stalls just a HUGE market on the Village Green, one needs a whole day just to get through that. My favourite exhibitions there were Wim Botha’s fantastic book sculptures and neon light fantasies, and the beautiful exhibition of puppets from the Handspring Puppet company, including War Horse. Even standing silently and unanimated there is something deeply moving about War Horse.
It was interesting to compare the Grahamstown Festival with KKNK in Oudtshoorn which I’d been to a couple of months earlier. For me, the best part of KKNK was the treasures hidden in the Stefan Welz Gallery – particularly Hannalie Taute, Gordon Froud and the Big Druid’s work. Hannalie’s exhibition, “Rubber Ever After”, really captured my attention and when I met and chatted with her I found an intriguing young woman who delivers a strong social message with her tongue firmly in her cheek. I’m delighted to say that she will be exhibiting some of her work at the Pink Haus – I couldn’t believe that she accepted because I only found out after KKNK that she had won the Kanna award for the top visual artist so she’s very much in demand around the country now. Thank you Hannalie!
At present everyone in the Brak who is involved in the Arts or tourism in any way is feverishly preparing for the Muse Festival in September. It’s grown from a three day event at its inception three years ago to a full week event this year. There will be art exhibitions at all the galleries, music performances, literary events, a gallery hop, wine tastings, activities for children and, best of all, Strydom van der Merwe, the Land Artist, will be here to create some land art. He has asked for volunteers so my name is down already and I can’t wait to work on a massive collaborative project under his guidance.
There will be a selection of art on display at the Pink Haus Gallery during the Muse Festival and after – Hannalie Taute’s fascinating rubber and embroidery pieces, Kathryn Harmer- Fox’s beautiful fibre bowls and wall hangings, the top 40 works from IQCA’s Challenge; some of Tessa Horan’s felted wonders and textile art pieces from some members of the textile art group I belong to locally.
Spring is surely just around the corner – everyone’s starting to come out of hibernation and I saw my first whale this morning – what a beautiful gift. A friend has invited me to go hiking in the Red Mountains near De Rust next week – I cannot wait, the mountains there have a spiritual presence which is tangible and mountains always restore me, spirit and soul.
Till next time.