A Move To Kusane

The sounds of The Penguin Café Orchestra filter through the air. I am wrapped in a fleece blanket and outside, all is cold and grey. Above the music, I hear the steady raindrops falling on tin roof and through the window, I see the Karkloof valley shrouded in mist, with only a hint of the ridge beyond visible. The rain has been relentless over the last week and all my once plump, Eastern Cape succulents have gone ominously purple and black, like a toe that has lost its blood supply. 

Looking out over the Karkloof Valley, shrouded in mist

I have been here a little over 6 weeks now and am comfortably settled into my new rented home, a two bedroom flat on the ground floor of what is known as The Barn; a stylish green, steel structure, surrounded by rock gardens, filled with an abundance of shrubs, aloes and birds, all lovingly cared for by my brother, who lives on the upper floor. The view from our perch up here on the hill, is breathtakingly beautiful. Its sweeping expanse across picture perfect farmland, edged by the moody blue Karkloof mountains, expands both mind and spirit. 

The view from The Barn Photo: Anthony Stidolph

It is the perfect place to sit and rest a weary body, for it takes one’s mind away from the heaviness of the world and opens up a sense of possibility for a future not yet seen. It stimulates the creative spirit, which in my case has lain fairly dormant for the past two years, as I have struggled valiantly to keep my head above water in the face of the pandemic and a world in total chaos. I, like many people whose businesses were impacted by the pandemic, have worked really hard during this period of recalibration and my mind and body are tired, made all the more so by my recent decision to relocate from the comfortable and familiar surrounds of Grahamstown/Makhanda to new pastures in Kwa-Zulu Natal. 

Although I have been toying with the idea of relocating for the past few years, my tentative efforts to make it happen in 2019 had all but fizzled out, when news of the pandemic loomed large on the horizon. In fact, when the total lockdown became a reality, I was extremely grateful to still be ensconced in the familiar comfort of my much loved home and not locked up, with my possessions in boxes, somewhere on the road between two worlds. It was a relief to have had the decision for my future taken from me, and it was clear that I needed to stay where I was, so I used the time to develop my class material and take my courses online. I was perfectly content, making the most of every day, in the sunny Eastern Cape. In fact, so content was I to remain in my nest, that all thoughts of moving had faded to the distant recesses of my mind. It was somewhat of a surprise, therefore, when, late last year, on a drizzly November afternoon, I received a call that was to be one of those defining moments of my life. An estate agent, asking if she could bring someone to view my house? I hadn’t seen this coming and despite all my previous, theoretical talk of wanting to make a move, I certainly hadn’t been prepared for it actually happening. I was in a bit of a daze, but in a space of 24 hours, not only had my home been viewed, I had signed and accepted an offer. 

Fast forward three months and here I am, looking out into the mist and wondering how I got through it? Moving a home and art studio at my stage in life is a major undertaking;  a little like uprooting a well-established oak tree. It’s not something to take lightly, it requires special assistance and the ground in the new location needs to have been well prepared. Looking back, I realise that I have been sub-consciously preparing for this move for quite some time, with numerous visits to the farm, this beautiful piece of paradise, imagining myself living here, talking about living here and wondering how I could make it happen. Incredulously, in a space of three months, not only have I been uprooted, I have been successfully transported and transplanted into the fertile Midlands soil, and this soft soaking rain of reflection is exactly what is needed to settle and get my bearings.

Moving forward into the next chapter of my life Photo: Anthony Stidolph

It’s a big step to have left the security of my previous life, but I am glad I have done it and am hopeful that the foundation I have laid over the past twenty years in Grahamstown will stand me in good stead going forward and that before too long, I will see the new shoots of creativity emerging. Like any good painting, the canvas has been prepared and is now ready for some action. The empty space that lies before me is daunting, but a few outlines have been roughly sketched and in my imagination, I can see the way that things could develop. This is not to say that the picture that emerges will work out the way I envisage it, for as any artist knows, paintings can take on a life of their own and it’s our job to listen and follow. The plan, therefore, is not to force anything to happen, but allow the story to unfold.  

My side of the deal is to remain calm and steadfast, to listen for the inner promptings whilst being alert to potential opportunities. I know it will take courage to take new ideas forward, for not only am I in a completely new environment where very few people know me and I know just as few, I am up against the societal narrative that says I am of an age when I should be retiring. But, I also know that I am a free, creative spirit and can rewrite the script to become whatever I want it to be. From this perch on the hill, looking back, looking forward, I feel like my real work is only just beginning. Of course, I may be naive in this regard, but only time will tell.

There are definitely advantages to being young, particularly that one has energy and that one thinks life will go on forever, but the gift of age and maturity is that one has wisdom and experience on one’s side, aided by a deep and firm foundation from which to launch to the next level of the story. What this level should look like varies from person to person, but irrespective of how one chooses to live, this stage of life allows one to let go of all that is no longer relevant and work only with that which is essential. It is a time of distillation.

So, now I find myself in that liminal space where what was is gone and what is to come has not yet revealed itself. It is an exciting place to be, for in it, anything is possible.  

Categories: Background, My Studio, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 37 Comments

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37 thoughts on “A Move To Kusane

  1. Sal, if there is one thing you are NOT it’s naïve. I love the idea – and agree with it – that your creative work is only just now beginning. Go well, as always. H

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    Harry Owen Poet &Writer


  2. Pippa

    All the best for your new chapter Sally.
    I hope to see you sometime, when and if the price of petrol ever comes down.
    Much love .

    • It would be great to get together again, Pippa. I’ll let you know when I am in your area and we can catch up over a cuppa xx

      • Pippa

        I look forward to that Sally.

      • Heather

        Nice writing Sally, I can only imagine up rooting and moving after 20years. I am trying to sell my home, and people are asking what next? I don’t know. I still love my work, so will have to see where I am guided. 😘

      • Thanks Heather and all the very best for your future adventures xx

  3. Janet

    A beautiful story of hope and courage.

  4. May all your twists and turn open windows to fresh air carrying hope and excitement and knowing that you simply have arrived where you’ve been called. Yes!!! Congratulations on this gift you’ve welcomed in!!
    Thank you for sharing it with us😘

    • Thanks so much for your thoughts, Joanna. There’s nothing like a dose of fresh air to clear out the cobwebs. I’m excited for what lies ahead, so stay tuned for further updates!

  5. Awesome Sally, you will be just fine and achieve great things 😊


  6. Mary-Ann Hartley

    What a beautifully illustrated and written piece, an insightful and inspiring piece too. To have made such a major leap and left so many familiar and comforting things behind and to be able to face the future with such optimism and acceptance is a testimony to your great inner strength and self knowledge. You are amazing Sal and I can’t wait to see how this move influences and shapes your work.

    • Thank you so much Mary Ann. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I also really appreciate your friendship and support and am looking forward to seeing lots more of you. Yes, it will be interesting to see what direction my artwork takes, with all these new influences.

  7. Virginia David-Engelbrecht

    Sally, how wonderful to receive your news! I am in a similar position and yet so far away from your beautiful KZN. Next week it will be exactly 12 months that i have left everything dear to me in Grahamstown. I miss it so much. Sending lots of love from Germany. Virginia

    • Virginia, how wonderful to hear from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know you’re out there. Grahamstown is an amazing place and is one of those towns where it’s the people who make it what it is. When someone leaves, it’s like a thread of the fabric of the place has been removed and the whole will never be quite the same again. Your leaving was certainly like that, but I hope you are happily now in Germany.

  8. Kathy Parks

    Sally … I loved what you have expressed and fully related to all of it! Moving “at this stage of life” is indeed daunting and also exciting! We are closing in on being in our “new to us” home for 3 years now tomorrow! From day 1 we were planning and working on remaking this 35 year old property …feel like “us” … I suspect you are now doing the same with your new surroundings! How helpful it is to have your beloved brother close by …(upstairs!!🥰) and in a part of the country you were somewhat familiar with already. New friends will come and your art classes will start again!! And … with all of it – that creative spark will come forth to kindle a new beginning and adventure! I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason … and I believe this move is indeed a wonderful gift that will enable it all to unfold! Stay focused and at peace … answers and connections will follow.❤️

    • What a wonderful, thoughtful message, Kathy. Thank you! I’m sure it won’t be long before it feels like home and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be living in such beautiful surroundings, with family so close at hand. Sending lots of love xx

  9. Colin Miles

    You go Sal. You are, and always have been super special. ( special ! I wind my finger round my ear) . This is just a new chapter in your life and how exciting is that. Good luck and enjoy the journey.

    • Wonderful to hear from you Colin. Wow! We go back such a long way and here we are, still chatting all these years later. Thanks so much for your good wishes x

  10. Wouter Theron

    All the best for the New adventures

  11. Tawny

    Lovely to hear that you are happily settled in your new home, and near Ant. It’s good to have company near when you need it. All the best wishes from all of us here for a happy, healthy and successful new life in the Midlands. Lots of love Tawny and family.xx

    • Thanks so much Tawny. It’s great to be nearer to family and I’m sure Ant and I have many adventures ahead of us. Lots of love to you all xx

  12. Thank you for your inspiring story of courage Sal. With your positive spirit and beautiful surroundings, creative opportunities are sure to open up. Go well my friend …

    • Thank you so much Jean. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead and trust it’s all going to be good. I would love for you and Mark to visit me here, if ever you are in the area. Stay well and lots of love x

  13. Chalkie

    Forward and Upward Always Sally , May You Be Blessed With All The Good Things Life Has To Offer , May Your New Journey Be Smooth And Hassle Free And May God’s Blessings Be With You Always My Beautiful Special Friend 🥰🥰

  14. Di Westcott

    Thanks for putting your journey in a nutshell Sally. What heavenly views you have from your new home. I miss my old pal so much but take comfort from knowing that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing ❤️❤️

    • Thanks so much Di. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your friendship and all the fun we have had together over the years. I miss you lots and really look forward to you visiting me up here sometime. xx

  15. Sandy

    How lovely to catch up with your next chapter Sal – and well done for taking the plunge 👏. I wish you many happy years in the gentle air of uplands KZN – so good you near family at last too. Xx

  16. Estelle Hudson

    Thank you for sharing Sally ….. what a journey and I agree any move is daunting sand when older seems even more so. However, the beauty of your new place sounds awesome!
    You are in a creative environment and meeting up with other artists there will enhance your new environment I am sure!
    WelCOME to KZN . Estelle

    • Thanks Estelle. I have some wonderful, creative friends here, who are helping me to settle in. I am very fortunate! Life is an adventure, and I am up for the challenge!

  17. Kathy Parks

    I love your post …and the reflections you’ve had over the past couple of years. You captured it all perfectly with the sentence “It’s a time of distillation” … yes indeed – isn’t that the truth! Aging does that I think … and Jim and I feel similarly about our move to Corvallis. It happened quickly and seemed pre-ordained… because the end result has been marvelous and more perfect than we could have ever hoped for! I do believe for us (and likely for you too) it was a “God thing” – meant to be! The landscape in your new surroundings and the way you’ve described them, sound very similar to where we now live. It is lush and green and often wet… but the sun does shine and when it does…it is all the more appreciated! May your week and months ahead be full of goodness & productivity as your creative spirit soars!

    • Thank you so much for this comment, Kathy. I apologise that it has taken so long to reply! It’s great to know that things have worked out well for you both and I’m hoping the same will happen for me. It’s certainly very lovely up here xx

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