24 August

This date is a week from spring in South Africa. On the southern sweep of coastline (between Cape Town and Durban) the weather is changeable. Especially in winter. Cold fronts come and go, bringing wind and rain. Preceding them, hot winds blow like a hairdryer. And in between, golden days of mild sunshine are the norm.

Today is such a day. It’s 4:45pm and I’m walking. The afternoon is still. A flag which I often see is unmoved. I’ve never seen that before. It’s so still that I can see onto the distant hills with no dust particles smudging my view, even slightly. It seems impossibly clear. Like my vision is sharper than ever. I can hear my shoes crunching beneath me, and birds cooing and tweeting. The lemon yellow light casts shadows across freshly mown sports fields; a solitary dove pecking peacefully on one of them. I can see the peach colours on the stone of colonial buildings. I can see the grass in the low sunlight, streaked like a yellow highlighter across text.

These kind of days are unusual. It’s not that there are few of them each year. It’s that a day like this comes in late winter, just before the trees start budding. So, it’s technically winter, but the temperature is pleasant. Everything is comfortable. Nothing cold. Nothing hot. Nothing tussled. Nothing happening. There is so little ‘weather’ that it’s noticeable. I want to say that it’s like being in the eye of a hurricane. But I don’t know what that’s like. I’ve only heard that it’s calm. And this is eerily calm. Like nature is pausing for a breath before launching into the next season. You could throw a paper plane and it would glide like it was indoors.

I want to paint this image. I want to somehow convey the stillness. I don’t know if I can render it. There’s no dynamism. And I mean that in a positive sense. Dynamic. Often I use that word to describe movement like it’s a good thing; a compliment. Progress. Good. But in this sense, the lack of movement is good. I almost wish it could just stay like this. Because the only thing moving is time. Time to the next cold front. Time to the next hot day. Dynamism sometimes means anxiety; too much looking forward or backward. Wishing. Hoping. Lamenting. But a day like this reminds me that sometimes it’s just nice being where you are. Nothing changing. Nothing happening. Nowhere to go. Nowhere you wish to be – either in the future or the past.

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