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In Septem­ber last year we fea­tured the Mac­don­ald fam­ily’s beau­ti­ful eco home in No­ord­hoek.

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In one of the pho­tos of their liv­ing room, the wall was adorned with three Bordallo Pin­heiro plates with their dis­tinc­tive cab­bage de­sign.

Shortly af­ter the is­sue ap­peared in stores, we got a call from a Mrs Pien­aar of Pre­to­ria: she had a bowl in the same de­sign and wished to do­nate it to Sue Mac­don­ald. She wanted to know how to get hold of her.

To cut a long story short, Sue chat­ted to Mrs Pien­aar and grate­fully ac­cepted the gift. “How in­cred­i­bly kind; I’m com­pletely blown away. Wow!” she said in an email to us later. She added: “Her kind­ness means so much to me.”

Per­haps it’s be­cause here in Cape Town – and in Port El­iz­a­beth and the Ka­roo – as we watch the wa­ter cri­sis de­velop with a grow­ing sense of panic, “kind­ness” has be­come even more im­por­tant. Be­cause (and for­give me this Oprah mo­ment) if we don’t all unite and help each other, the re­al­ity will soon be a bit­ter pill to swal­low. With­out wa­ter. And it’s ob­vi­ously not just in terms of wa­ter that we must all treat each other with com­pas­sion; be­ing kind to oth­ers goes so much fur­ther than that. Reach out to oth­ers where you see a need, share if you have more than enough, give away what you aren’t us­ing.

In this is­sue, we fo­cus on small spa­ces where, in any case, there isn’t enough room for clut­ter. Per­haps that should be our motto for this year, even if you don’t live in a small space: share what you can with those around you.

I turn 45 next month. I re­mem­ber my fa­ther be­ing brought to tears a lot more eas­ily the older he got, so per­haps I’m just get­ting old. Some peo­ple might think it’s no big deal, but Mrs Pien­aar’s ges­ture re­ally touched me. Tak­ing so much trou­ble to con­tact a stranger, sim­ply be­cause you have some­thing that you both love and you’d like to give it to her... That’s what it’s all about.

Mrs Pien­aar, I salute you and oth­ers like you. • While I’m on the sub­ject of the drought: our gar­den­ing edi­tor, Marié, was very con­cerned that read­ers would think the beau­ti­ful gar­dens fea­tured on page 86 and page 96 were pho­tographed at the height of the drought in the Western Cape and that “they’d be mad at us and the home­own­ers for not pay­ing any heed to wa­ter re­stric­tions!”. But rest as­sured, we usu­ally pho­to­graph our gar­dens a year in ad­vance. Which means that Arina and An­nemi’s gar­dens were pho­tographed be­fore the drought reached its cur­rent dis­as­trous pro­por­tions.

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