Maya Fowler longs for the Eastern Cape
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.