Walking with a hunter

Just made it today!

I wanted an excuse. It’s cold outside and the mornings are already darker, aren’t they? It’s the first day of my post Xeloda cycle four holiday and I deserve to snuggle down and enjoy my duvet. But I skipped yesterday. And I’m a bit lazy by nature. So no. This morning I need to crawl out of bed and into my new (looser) jeans. The cut off is nine o’clock and as you know by now, I’m a rule follower.

The neighbours I didn’t know last week are becoming friendlier. We greet each other and even comment on the weather. It’s glorious and I can’t remember a Cape autumn ever being this beautiful. But then I never used to walk the streets of Hout Bay, prior to the virus. Things were different before this war. It’s going to go down in history as BC and AC Covid-19. The country feeling has returned to the valley. Even the dogs in my neighbourhood come up to say hello these days. Our garden has always attracted birds but it has now become a mini sanctuary. Even the squirrels are behaving differently and one ran through the house yesterday, despite the real threat of being hunted by Archie.

Notwithstanding the limbo suspension, I feel good. And very, very grateful for my life. Preparing vegetarian meals is surprisingly easy. There are a zillion delicious methods in my recipe books and google is a minefield of sometimes useful information. I resisted this switch for so long and yet I’ve taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. I make a mean chickpea curry now. Recipe on request. I don’t want to foist my enthusiasm on the meat eaters out there. Up until a few days ago, I was one.

I’d forgotten how much I like walking actually. It frees up my mind and I find my old habit of daydreaming, creeping back into my life. I have intense urges to create. I know I’m no artist but the idea of painting keeps showing up in my thoughts. Perhaps the autumn colours are inspiring me. Silky hues blending into one another on canvas, brush strokes of brilliant light, textures and the feel of velvet…all seem to be coming up from somewhere deep inside me.

As I turn the corner to climb the (little) hill, my neighbour’s cat is watching me from a tree. He’s Archie’s rival and the reason for Xena and my early morning pyjama-ed escapades into the street. Strangely enough, he is also a ginger but a milky patch on his chest distinguishes him from my boy. He’s climbing down to join me. Odd. He usually avoids me studiously. I wait to see what he’s planning. And then it hits me between the eyes. He’s not the enemy. My own Archie is strutting towards me. His golden eyes are fixated. “What are you doing here, boy?” He gives me an intense gaze and falls into step. The little hunter is joining me on my walk!

When our Cape Dutch cottage comes into view, Archie makes sure that he slips through the railings before I unlock the gate. Xena is waiting for us. She has had her walk but this is not acceptable. Archie placates his sulky friend with a head bump. I am tickled pink by the walk. But there’s a gnawing feeling too. My tomcat is showing me whose territory this is. I adore having him walk next to me but don’t reach down to pat him. Somehow I get the feeling I’m the intruder and a mock attack could very well be on the cards, if I overstep the boundaries.

This surreal cancer/corona journey with all its challenges and dangers, has brought about a synchronicity of rhythms. I feel closer to nature than ever before. My animals and those in the neighbourhood, are allowing us into their worlds – worlds we were too busy to notice. The day stretches before me and I have so much I wish to do. There is enough time…provided I limit the daydreaming.

Then again, creativity doesn’t come to me when I’m tied to a desk. It’s always appeared when I’m diving under a wave or walking in a forest. Eureka moments even pop up under a steamy shower. Busyness is a man made construct and overdoing prevents us from just being. Perhaps this is the time to re-assess. And as I used to remind my disbelieving engineering students, “Imagination is more important than knowledge!”  Sometimes glazed eyes would only refocus when I added Albert Einstein’s name to the quote.

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