The feel of summer – an absence of darkness

Betty’s Bay, Tuesday 4 January 2011

The sun has reached its highest peak in the Southern Hemisphere and the hours of sunlight have begun to diminish ever so little. But the summer’s heat is here. Time to open the windows wide and enjoy the warmth which is always tempered by a continuous breeze from the sea.

A friend of ours in Germany comments on the absence of darkness in our pictures of the season, Christmas in particular. Where are the casualties of life? And he gives a picture of what had happened in his immediate surroundings – suicide attempts, a diagnosis of cancer, a broken heart, sadness. What about the dark side of Christmas in your country, he asks. Where are the black people in your representation? It all seems so jolly and happy and light.

He is right of course. Christmas time in Germany, apart from the same kind of commercialization as we have it here, is a time of “Einkehr” – a time of turning inwards – and of course of sentimentalization. Should I tell my friend about our “dark” statistic – casualties on our roads as if we were in a state of civil war? Family dramas with wife and child clobbered to death? Policeman on a shooting spree? Ten people struck by lightning in the Transkei between Christmas and New Year. Children drowning as a result of neglect?

What more? What is the point? Does one have to feel guilty enjoying the sunshine? There is so much more below the surface, people caring for each other, abandoned children taken into families and accepted there as one’s own. Does one have to weigh the one against the other? Our friend’s comment made us a little sad, but we understand – Africa seen from the outside from a perspective of an awareness of rape and pillage of its people must disturb a sensitive soul. But should we not soldier on and see the beautiful things in life as well as the ones that make us feel wretched?

Summer is here and we are enjoying it. And Colleen has finished another commisssion for friends in Sweden – we couriered the painting to them today.

While we were staying with Karin in Montagu we had an unexpected visit from a lovely family we got to know through one of their daughters while she was doing her practical year as part of her medical studies. The family of seven are on a cruise and when their ship docked in Cape Town they took a bus and drove all the way to Montagu to see us. What a wonderful New Year’s delight! And on top, Colleen was offered a commission for another family portrait – she had done one before for them –  this time of the family grown now from five to eleven! No mean task to look forward to.

Much love for now,

Colleen & Walter

Betty’s Bay, 4 January 2011