There is this beautiful block that is Muizenberg Mountain …
It rises up from the flat beach in the image above, dark in the shadows of twilight, resplendent in the dawn of the morning.
The sea beneath it was a transparent green when I first saw it – of course the sea is the colour of the sea, day by the day, depending on what it wants to be.
Grey beneath the clouds or blue in the sparkling sun, aquamarine in your mind this instance, then translucent and shimmering in the rainbow of colours in another instance.
Warm and green the first time I saw it, so it mostly stays that way regardless – in my mind that is.
Warm only by comparison to the blue wave that crashes cold on the white sands of the Other Side …
We are on This Side, a few degrees warmer, but you might not think so if your toes grew up in warm oceans elsewhere where the wild bananas grow.
What really stands out for me is the mountain block’s massiveness.
It has a confidence, a rugged one, that will stare you down, challenge you, and have you look away, unsure …
Every day it is there, at night it huddles as a Big Black Hulk, resting whilst it awaits the early light that will shine in the east over the Hottentots Holland Mountains across the bay, where the Great Whites swim, and so too do the seals, uncaring as if it will never happen to them, the surprise that comes out of the blue, snaps its jaws and tears and wrenches at the soft puppy fat of the young and bold who unwise took yet another chance …
The mountain has a valley that takes you up and away, into a plateau of another world, as if what was left behind is no longer there, just a fantasy in your mind …
When the wind blows the cloud up from the sea, and you are there in its cool breath, a mist, sometimes moist, its drops on the fynbos and on the tip of your nose, you could be anywhere but where you came from, even if it was just a short while ago that your legs worked the pounding of your feet on the rock and stone, the shrubs brushing past you as your lungs gasp in your upward reach towards something that awaits higher up …
From the plateau the narrow path to the top would beckon, close in around you as you move on to finish the job, to reach the top – it is only a short way relative to the long up and then the flat you were on.
The snakes that could strike at your ankles and your calves no longer matter, and when you reach the top you look down:
just as you hoped
the sea is warm and green …
It was this afternoon that I was thinking about Ziggy, as I was thinking about the mountain.
When I first met him he probably was strumming on his guitar, singing that song … I always remember him playing a guitar, as I always remember this sea as warm and green.
Some years had gone by and he called me.
Come over Ziggy, this Sunday, I said, and he did with his girlfriend, and a friend, and the friend’s girlfriend.
I had it all planned, first a couple of espressos, a chat, then I would take them up the valley and up to the top.
And so I did, in the heat of one of the hottest days of some time, the pain and discomfort in their eyes, but I was demented and bent to show them the top.
They were glad they had when they were eventually on top, even if on the way up they must have been wondering about the lunatic that they were spending Sunday with.
We went back down the valley, crossed the high road, down the steps to the low road, beneath the subway that the tall buses smash into, and onto the white sands.
The sea was warm and green, just right, washing away the sweat of the mountain, the pain and discomfort now just a memory in their eyes …
Then to the braai, in our backyard patio, sizzling the boerewors and the chops, drinking beer …
Our stomachs bulging in the orgy of food and friendship I pulled out the guitar:
And I said to him:
Ziggy sing us that song
So he took the guitar, and began to softly strum along …
And as he began to sing the warm green waters came in,
Gently, and took us away,
Up the valley we had climbed,
To the top and beyond,
Ever so gently
A bush or a flower, a rock or a stone,
Not even the scent of the fynbos that lingered on and on …
And when he had finished
The warm green waters receded
Leaving everything just as it was, in place,
Dry if it was dry, or wet or moist if it was not,
The scent of the fynbos just where it was,
As it was,
Whilst our silence in wonder lingered on and on …
Thanks Daniel Davila for your insights into magical realism … maybe one day …
And to Ziggy of course …
And to Leonard Cohen too:
Copyright © 2015 G. Rigotti