I continue to work on the “Little Evening Lily” poems as summer comes to South Africa. The lily in question has disappeared from the hillsides, but other wild flowers have taken its place. Among them is Cyanella hyacinthoides, its purple petal cuffs and golden stamen gloves earning it the common name Lady’s Hands. They add specks of colour to the waysides which grow ever paler with dry wild grass.
South Africa is in the midst of spring, and there is no end to the flowers.1 Every few weeks, there are new arrangements of shape, size and colour at the waysides that come and go in turn.
Some sparkle on shrubs that in every other season give nothing away of their splendour. Some burst from bulbs straight from the ground—just stem, no leaves at all. Some flutter gently amid the grasses—shy, though they need not be so.
Some dazzle with striking colour, insisting one stops and stares. Some are strange, barely recognisable as what they are—for that reason, all the more lovely. Some are so small that on hands and knees one must descend to see them at all.
Were I to catalogue every species I have seen this season, my updates would be frequent and long, but permit me one more occasion to show some of the specimens that now are in bloom:
Or wild animals: late Thursday afternoon, I saw for the first time a pair of Otocyon megalotis, Bat-eared foxes! I regret I was not able to photograph them.
A windy day in late winter, filmed 25 August 2018.
Taking much longer to develop than I anticipated, “A Late Winter Morning” is done at last, a celebration of the titular subject in three stanzas, reflecting upon those striking moments that move one to compose: sunlight upon the verdant landscape, familiar birdsong—one’s wistfulness upon hearing it.
I am also pleased that I have found a final title for the offshoot poem, previously undecided between “A Morning Chat” and “A Chat at Solitaire”. It is now simply “A Chat”, referring at once to the bird, the African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus) and the subject of the poem, its splendid warbling song.
In the days to come, I shall turn to “A Blustery Day”, composed on 25 August 2018, a windy day in late winter (June to August in South Africa). I had the foresight at the time to film the blowing pines that inspired the sketch—there is a row beside the house planted by my mother three decades ago:
The difference between the mind of the poet and the non-poet is illustrated by a brief exchange with my father.
He: “Look at the wind!” I: “Ah! It has places to go!”