The early spring is turning the leaves green almost as we watch, the days have grown warm and filled with light. Once the leaves have all come out, I tell myself, and the flowers are in bloom, I may get some relief from the pollens which seal up my eyes and nose, and breathe again.
Yet these are golden days, nonetheless, passing by all too quickly as we tap away at our computers in the office or sit through meetings, or hurry about our tasks and to-do lists. I try to take some time in the evenings, just to sit and watch the sun go down, over the western hills; on the weekends we sit outdoors with the papers, listening to the busy weavers who have constructed three nests over the pool, or the black-collared barbets calling from the cracked branches of the leaning willow. Sometimes we see an African Hoopoe treading the ground, his hammer-head probing for worms in the warm soil, a glow of russet body and black- and white-flecked wings against the greenery.
Late on Saturday afternoon the kids came round for drinks and dinner; Kathy and Gareth had not seen Rob since she left in February for Canada, and arrived bearing birthday gifts and welcome-home presents. We sat out on the porch, chatting and laughing, and I took a few photos of us all, myself included, seated on the low wall in front of the living room windows. There was wine, and a leg of lamb braised with aubergine and onion, peppers and potatoes, tomatoes and garlic and rosemary of course, and plenty of Maldon salt and ground black pepper; a cake that Rob had made for dessert. There was chocolate and coffee and port and whiskey, all in a cup of happiness and affection. And in the morning Rob and I headed out to the Magaliesberg, for beer and burgers at a bush pub, and a quick tour of the dam to look out for visiting birds: we saw a number of Arctic terns, crisp and sharp in their uniforms of white, black and red, and two forlorn flamingos. We stopped on the way back at a garden centre, to look for pots and plants for our new home, in Hyde Park, and were pleasantly tired by the time we got back home, just in time to watch, gin-and-tonic in hand, as a pink sun flared into the dusk and sank behind the distant hills.
I looked out from the open deck, over the pool, over the darkening garden, and thought, I am going to miss this house.
Rob won’t, but I will.