I once had a garden in a suburb of a small African coastal town called Knysna. The suburb is called Paradise. And it was a true paradise until the recent fire storm which took our property and 1000 others too.
Tonight, I can finally cry.
I cry for our cat Patch which disappeared, I cry for our family home of 20 years. I cry for the garden I co-created, for all the trees, shrubs and flowers, for the bat colony under our roof, for the rain spiders, toads, snakes, snails, and clicking frogs. For the Knysna Loeries, the Drongos, Orioles, Sunbirds, Cape Whiteeyes, Batis, Doves, Owls, Nightjars, Dikkops, Finches, Thrushes, Hoopoes, Hadedas, and many other bird species.
I am crying a lot for the Vervet monkeys, the boomslang, the many geckos and lizards, the dragonflies, the butterflies, the bees, the wasps, the beetles and many more. I am missing many stones I collected on hundreds of journeys, many presents from the ocean, like the rare paper nautilus, and a whale vertebrae, and so many more presents from kind souls. Some of which appeared in the ashes, like the terracotta angel, unharmed on top of a pile of burned letters or the tiny little metal box from my late mother in law who only recently passed away.
What a very humbling experience this is and a great practice for non-attachment. I am deeply grateful for these years in paradise, our refuge in difficult times, our family christmas retreat, our cat bird and monkey paradise, our creative outlet, our LOVE.
I will always remember these sunny mornings, woken to bird calls, stepping out onto the patio with the sun shining through the branches of the Cape Ash tree and the Stinkwood tree which grew so fast from all the shower water it received. Glancing up where the monkeys appeared swinging happily between the trees, visiting the compost and often also the vegie patch.
Then going their way between the wild Bauhinia, and the stunning purple Tibouchina, and flowering gum trees.
Practicing yoga on the patio below the Tibetan prayer flags – my sacred space where Patch joined me so often.
Having an outdoor shower in the mornings, hidden behind the Camelia with its pink flowers in spring, appreciating the orange flowering clivias in the half shade of the trees, then passing the sweetly fraganced gardenia , along the small garden path seamed by Agapanthus and shrubs, on the way to a sparkling gorgeous pool. Heaven!
The Oak tree, the Swamp Cypress, Wild Plum tree, especially planted for the Loeries, the Hibiscus flowering in bright red and rose, the white rose shrub, the fynbos grasses, bulbs, and proteas, the old lavender bush, the confetti bushes, the tall Strelitzias, the Bougainvilleas along the fences, the majestic Pine tree, the little spiny Fever tree, which never really found its happiness in a non-endemic space. Plumbagos and Honeysuckle…. yes, so many different species, most of them indigenous and water saving plants, which did withstand the ongoing drought, now all gone with the fire. ALL of them, plants and animals and stones.
And now, a month later, after just a few mm of rain, the first green tips are showing between the rubble.
Magic ! and a good sign for a new beginning. So I planted a Plumbago and put it next to the remaining bird bath. May a garden re-grow, may the birds, snakes, insects, frogs, and all come back.
May the next generation be happy here.
In deep gratitude,