In June, those devastating fires wreaked havoc in Knysna.
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.