Posted in Journal Series, Nature Writing, Prose

Protea Season

On the off-ramp to Stellenbosch, men stand on the median divider, selling arm-fulls of dramatic green stalks capped with delicate white trumpets, all bundled together with twine.

“Calla lilies already?”
“It’s the season, my child. Winter in the Cape!” Maryna chirps, wincing at the sun from behind the steering wheel.
“That’s right. All the Proteas are blooming. I’d forgotten.”

I laugh to myself as I remember the 25 ‘real’ winters of my life.
When the turf froze in November and thawed in late March.
When every branch was rendered leafless, the sky an omnipresent slate gray.
How I had always willed myself into believing that the colors would always return.
That the first signs of spring, sprouting daffodils in thawing snow banks, would always abate the months of darkness.

There is still darkness here.
The sun sets by 6 and rises by 8.
The winds from the Atlantic render Cape Town a whipping boy for precipitation, like Boston.
But unlike New England, the seasonal polarities diffuse into each other here, trading blessings and burdens, giving us all a bit more to cling to.

The irony is not lost on me that the 4th of July is usually the coldest day of the year. I ballpark convert the degrees from Celsius and fetch another layer, cursing the lack of central heating. But any chagrin I harbor to sub-Saharan winters is dashed when I am in the fynbos.

A treasure from Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

It is resplendent and lush, thriving flora as far as I can see.
Wildness personified.
In the midst of mid-winter it yields the stars of its show.
Works of art that rise from the earth—welcoming the wind and the wet–autonomous from the human hand.

It has always been this way.

On the coldest days of the year men can still profit from this land.
Standing in the sun, the winds whipping their blistered cheeks.
Selling harvested bundles of miracles on the side of the highway.

This little piece of prose is the first I’m sharing from my ‘Journal Series.’ Most of my writing gets mulled over for a few days, goes through multiple drafts and waits in a queue to be published.

Sometimes, mercifully, the words muscle their way out of my mind and onto paper so fast that I can barely write fast enough. In instances like that, there is very little editing that takes place. Sometimes I read what I wrote and it just says, “I’m ready! Share me please!”

So, in an effort of artistic transparency, and to honor the inspiration that sometimes strikes me like lightning bolts from the Universe, I’ll be sharing a few more journal selections that were born just like this one: swiftly, organically, and ready to be shared.

Here is my original draft of the piece:

I’m looking forward to sharing more deep-cuts from the old faithful external hard drive of my brain soon.
In the meantime, savor beauty wherever you can find it.


Stories of travels, of tribulations, and of learning to tell the difference.

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