180º

Maya Fowler longs for the Eastern Cape

go! Platteland - - CONTENTS -

Views of the end­less va­ri­ety are the very best kind, and on this front the coun­try­side beats even the most glo­ri­ous city. The breadth of the Ka­roo of­fers rest for the eye; it clears the mind and the ch­est, 180 de­grees of respite from east to west.

Al­though I was born in the Cape, I found my­self trans­planted to the Ka­roo in my child­hood, and it took me sev­eral years to re­alise how and where to quench the senses in a place of arid­ness. Fi­nally un­der­stand­ing dawns: full­ness of ex­pe­ri­ence comes not only in jewel tones. It is not only the Cape’s hill­sides of win­ter emer­ald green or the sap­phire blue ocean at day’s end that de­light, nor just the golden grass of the Free State, the way it rises from a cop­per earth.

In the Ka­roo, bril­liance comes in softer hues. The green is sage and olive, the blue dove’s egg, un­til win­ter leaves the veld dry to re­ward one with turquoise heav­ens in­stead. But here, be­tween Graaff-Reinet and Mid­del­burg, the grass has the up­per hand over bossies and other hard­ware, and in March the sum­mer veld is sweet and lush on Loots­berg Pass. Here, the green flashes gold, or per­haps the other way around. And in the far dis­tance the moun­tains of the Camde­boo present their wide em­brace, blue and mauve and lilac, fos­sil brown and oys­ter-shell grey. In Maya Fowler’s lat­est novel, Patag­o­nia, a South African es­capes to the far south of South Amer­ica and un­know­ingly sets in mo­tion an imi­ta­tion of his an­ces­tors’ cy­cle of flee­ing, chas­ing and be­ing chased.

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