An African Spring

“Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working” – Stephen De Staebler

With the appearance of the first green leaves of Spring, I realize it’s time to get back to work. With only three and half months until Christmas, there is still much to be done, so I venture into the studio to think about what to do next. Should I make some fish, or plan a workshop, or make a new wall hanging or start a new painting? I tidy up and make a cup of tea, and sit in the glorious morning sunshine to think. The Coral Tree is in full bloom and the Black Headed Oriole is busy, it’s beak deep in the nectar, stopping occasionally to warble it’s watery call. Next to the call of the African Fish Eagle, I think it is one of Africa’s most beautiful sounds. I am feeling the first stirrings of inspiration, so I get up quickly, walk across the lawn and back into my studio.

Then I hear pandemonium. My gardener, who has been clearing the bush at the top of my property, has chanced upon a Puff adder, sunning itself on the warm dry grass . The gardener, who has a slasher in his hand, is wildly gesticulating, telling me the snake has a girth the thickness of his arm. I tell him not to hurt it, but to watch where it goes, while I dash off to phone a local snake catcher, who I am hoping will be able to catch and relocate it. Soon our Crocodile Dundee arrives, but by the time he has reached the spot where the snake had been sighted, it had retreated to it’s hole, which I have now come to believe is beneath the trunk of a large overturned tree. The reason for my thinking is that my Scottie dogs have worn a path around the stump in their efforts to flush out whatever lies in there. The fever pitch of their barking suggests that this is no ordinary rat, which leads me to thinking that this fat snake has probably been there a long, long time, as I’ve heard this hysterical barking before.


So, I have to trust that the snake is used to the dogs and that it will leave them alone should their paths ever cross.

And then I try to get back to work, but it’s late and I’m distracted and it’s time for an evening walk.

When my gardener returns a few days later, he continues clearing the grass, but this time he takes a smoke pot, which he believes will scare away the snake. I tell him to be careful, to watch where he puts his feet and to take care not to set fire to the dry grass. He assures me he knows what he’s doing. A few hours later, I see him sitting having his tea, but up there on the hill, I see billows of white smoke and hear the sickening sound of a bush fire. I run to see what is happening, and to my horror, the top of my property is on fire. Hosepipes, buckets and a fire engine later, we have the fire out and everything under control. It took me the weekend to recover from the shock.

So, today I had good intentions of getting back into the studio, but before I could even get there another crisis had hit. The gardener had stood on the rake and the prongs had pierced through his foot! When I found him, he was writhing in agony with the rake still firmly attached. I was horrified and rushed to call the doctor, who instructed me to pull the rake off, no matter how difficult it might be.

So, with his foot soaking in antiseptic, I scrabbled through my cupboards to find something to bandage him up. After a cup of tea, some antibiotics and painkillers, he declared himself healed and I sent him home to sleep. I meanwhile needed a stiff drink, but opted instead for a brisk walk around the block.

With the sun setting on the horizon, I found myself wondering where another day had gone?

But then there is still tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the day my muse is sure to come.

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Categories: Inspiration, My Studio | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “An African Spring

  1. Harry Owen

    Love it, Sal! This is why I fully expect to live out the rest of my life in Africa.

  2. Bev Slater

    It would appear that the fates are conspiring against this artist getting any work done – pain or not! Sally – that post brought a smile!!

  3. A great post! Lovely to read this snapshot of your life in your beautiful African garden.

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