Saturday, February 4, 2012

She was.

The farm subsides into silence over the week-end. Even the roosters are quiet. I spent the morning dead-heading the roses, immersed in their staggering dark red scent. The animals stopped by in turns to greet me - Collie, the two black Labradors, white footed cat. In the distance the Frenchmen were raking topsoil over the lawn, soft African drumbeats coming from the open truck.

It gave me time to reflect. Everyone I have spoken to has some special memory of Aida, our friend who died on Wednesday. These are just a few of mine:
There were always flowers in the house. If she knew that I was coming for breakfast, there would be an extra bunch waiting by the door.

On the day I took this photo, she led me to her herb garden and gave me a translucent porcelain cup of Bergamot blossom tea. She was that most wonderful combination of things: bright and gentle, yet filled with a matter of fact kind of strength. We went for sushi on a Winter's day and laughed so much we cried. She came to visit me after seeing her doctor and I could see she wasn't feeling great, but she ate a big slice of the cake I had baked and that made me inordinately happy. We shared a love of shoes and buttons, floral fabrics and Rick Stein. There were memorable meals: a Moorish stew of Lamb's neck, fragrant with fresh Turmeric root and Saffron. Fish and Coriander leaves, wrapped in rice paper and fried until crisp. The Chocolate Ganache cake she sent when she couldn't come to my birthday party. Baked by her that afternoon, covered with fresh purple figs.

I woke last night and remembered that I had taken a photo of her, maybe six years ago. She looked sensational - woolen Cossack hat, fur-lined boots, her arms full of chunky bracelets - always, standing on the grassy verge outside the gate on Impala Road.

I wrote to her from Turkey, not expecting a reply, for I knew that she was extremely ill. She wrote back. She wrote: Enjoy Istanbul for me. And she sent me her love.
My heart aches but I am so happy to have known her.

There are 
 by Jac de Villiers.

1 comment:

Karen Bekker said...

Ahhh Lily- so lovely.... things keep popping into my head as well, I used to collect black & yellow Villeroy & Bloch pieces, Aida must have been always on the look out at the boot sale as she gave me some beautiful pieces as presents- she was so incredibly thoughtful. x