In June, those dev­as­tat­ing fires wreaked havoc in Knysna.

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This hap­pened just as our pho­tog­ra­pher Fran­cois and cre­ative ed­i­tor Mar­ian ar­rived in the South­ern Cape to pho­to­graph homes and gar­dens to be fea­tured in our mag­a­zine dur­ing the course of the year.

That day, I was out of the of­fice, at­tend­ing a work­shop with the other ed­i­tors in our group. At 15:44 I re­ceived a What­sApp from Mar­ian: “Hi, could you please call me. I’m sav­ing my air­time to deal with the cri­sis. I’m sure you’ve heard about the fires.”

As it turned out, I hadn’t be­cause we’d been lis­ten­ing to a speaker from Amer­ica all day and my phone was in my pocket for a change. I checked Google. I was shocked. Be­cause what I saw was to­tal dev­as­ta­tion, the sky a hazy or­ange due to thick palls of smoke from the flames that were caus­ing chaos in the howl­ing winds.

In the back-and-forth mes­sages that fol­lowed, it emerged that Mar­ian and Fran­cois had to flee the town and couldn’t get back to Sedge­field where their clothes and be­long­ings were at a guest­house. The N2 was closed. Hur­riedly, they or­gan­ised other ac­com­mo­da­tion in Knysna – close to the wa­ter, just in case the fire got worse. And, as we now know, it did.

To cut a long story short: Mar­ian and Fran­cois ar­rived home safely, but in the chaos that en­sued and in their haste to get to safety, all the photos of Jayne and An­dries Brink’s house in Hunter’s Home near the Knysna Lake District were gone. Jayne said af­ter­wards that all she could think was: if our house burns down, at least we’ll have a set of good photos that will be a re­minder of our home. Lit­tle did she know...

The good news is that the Brinks’ home sur­vived and in early Septem­ber, Mar­ian and Fran­cois re­turned to Knysna – take a look at their photos on page 16. What a re­lief it was that the house was still stand­ing and what in­cred­i­ble heartache for those whose homes were con­sumed by the flames. Many peo­ple in Knysna are still re­build­ing their lives; our thoughts are with them.

One can hardly be­lieve it’s al­ready Novem­ber. When my phone sud­denly died the other day, I thought to my­self: my bat­tery is just as flat. I also need to be recharged, or I might not make it to Christ­mas. And how ironic that the more we try to live ‘wire­lessly’, the more we’re like pup­pets on a string that need to be plugged in wher­ever we are, just to keep go­ing.

But we’re al­most there. And then it’ll be time to kick back and re­lax on which­ever stoep presents it­self (see some gor­geous ex­am­ples in the three reader homes and in the spe­cial fea­ture on page 58).

Give the rest of the year your best shot and, in the mean­time, put a few cold ones on ice.

En­joy!

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