Why go to view the flowers? What is it about flowers in the wild? That is just it. The spontaneous thrust of colour emerging from the red earth into a layers of gold and white studded with blue, pink, orange and red spreading into the distance is not only exhilarating because of its spontaneity, it is also calming in the beauty of simplicity. What was a dry landscape with little to entice changes overnight with the early rains and hint of spring.
I hadn’t viewed the West Coast flowers for sometime. After the confinement of Covid19 this was not something to miss. Having visited Potsberg and Saldanha Bay early in spring, I decided that this year I would also go to Clanwilliam and even further into the Cederberg mountains with its winding pass to Wupperthal.
My friend and I spent the night in a little wooden cabin in the mountains enveloped in the velvet night sporting the necklace of the Milky Way across the heavens. The next morning we gazed at the shimmers that the sparkles of the night had left on a spread of flowers exquisitely woven into a shawl between the mountain peaks. Each flower-face opens its petals to the sun to captures the light and hold it in the essence of its own colour.
The paint brush is the sun, but it is only a brush. Each flower is a pot of paint spilling colour to life, to sensuous energy ontocanvas. This painting does not belong to me or to anyone else, it cannot be bought since it has no price. It cannot be abstracted since it is abstract and cannot be copied because it stretches out of reach of the eye.
Wupperthal, one of the oldest mission stations in this country is being rebuild after the fires that destroyed two thirds of the houses with their reed roofs. The people remained staying in temporary homes for where else is there the beauty of mountains, the patient yielding of a piece of land cultivated, the honesty of a friend, the support of a community and a shared faith in a God that calls them by name and knows each one even as they also know the plants and names of the region.
I buy a coke and apricot sweets in a makeshift café with its one fridge in the kitchen of Ouma who believes the children must have something sweet. Her neighbour hanging out her washing, sings to the accompaniment of the radio. At the bottom of the hill is a man tilling the soil. ‘We share and barter with our vegetables’, Ouma confides. ‘Are you able to make a living?’ I ask. ‘Our needs are few, we have so much to be thankful for’, she replies.
A child cycles past waving. Three women follow chatting. I follow humming a forgotten tune.