Monday, June 7, 2010

A birthday walk

A birthday walk on Sunday, a weather forecast gone very wrong and a pack of dogs scaling a mountain. Just another day on Table Mountain.
It was Mike’s 60th and although he seemed to start off a bit gloomy, the mountain soon had him in birthday mood.
The weather forecast was way off. The Sunday newspaper said 27 degrees, but you only had to look out the window to know that forecast was for another city in another hemisphere. Never be under-equipped, is Jannie’s mantra and I know not to argue with him. But gloves! Which mountain was he preparing for?
As it turned out, Table Mountain. Halfway up Constantia Corner the weather turned icy. More like -27. OK, 16 degrees. Mist swirled in, the sun disappeared and so did the people and dogs just ahead of me on the path.
Karen was leading our pack of (unsubservient) humans and (subservient) dogs up to Camel Rock from Constantia Corner. This route is misleading. It looks easy because you never see the whole route ahead of you, but my calves are still hurting a day later. Karen’s pack of dogs, from small to large, were scrambling up the mountain with various degrees of help from human hands.
At the top we found shelter for morning tea under those beautiful weathered rocks, chiselled away by the exact same wind and mist that was swirling around us.
Walking in the mist makes the mountain soft, mysterious; things look different. It’s like a woman wearing a veil.
But we didn’t linger. By noon we were sitting in Barristers, sharing a bottle of red wine and a few beers. Now it didn’t matter what the weather forecast was, we had a birthday to celebrate.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ultimate art

We call it Mango Cave because of the unforgettably sweet and juicy mango Jannie and I shared there one afternoon long ago. So, in the mood for a short and sweet walk, I went up to Mango Cave in the middle of the afternoon.
Just before our cave, I noticed the rock wall next to the path. This is the mystery and wonder of Table Mountain. I have walked past there dozens of times, but on this particular afternoon the slant of the sun and the wet glistening on the rock face stopped me in my tracks.
This is not a rock wall, it’s a wall of poems! I sat on a stone next to the path and looked at this wall. As I looked, poems emerged. As I looked closer, even more poems emerged. The beauty developed like a photograph on wet paper in a dark room.
A dry bunch of tiny twigs sat rooted in a damp cushion of moss. A bonsai Erica had all the potential of being a big tree in a park if you forgot about scale. A thin grey branch twisted into a sculpture. Lichen clung to moss and looked silvery in the afternoon light. Dry strands of grass curled into a mass of delicate twists and curved lines. The brightest pink oxalis bloom stuck its cheerful head out above a clump of dry sticks in a song that said the sun is pink and it has risen. Two thin streams of water poured through a patch of green moss, like two small taps at a bathroom basin.
The mountain in its smallest beauty, its most intimate moments. A mountain that holds you close and then shows you her total, open heart.
Last night we went to an art exhibition. Kendell Geers had thrown some bricks through a glass window of a gallery in Roeland Street. Broken glass lay inside on the floor and the bricks were scattered; artfully, I think. There was nothing else in the shop.
I knew it was an art exhibition because there was free wine and snacks at the Kimberley Hotel across the road. On the mountain I didn't need free wine and snacks to point the way.
Here is a rock wall of poems. That's all.