Silk Purses from Sow’s Ears

Suddenly winter has lifted. A click of fingers and the weather’s changed; I drag the curtains back one morning four days ago and the mist has rolled right away to reveal a sky that’s clear and blue.   So sudden the change that I gasp to Ant, ‘look at that day!’

It’s still cold at this hour. The valley below the house pants and the last tendrils of low lying cloud – papery thin and gauzy – are burned away by the sun as rising smoke.

I drag my jeans on and whistle Pili up to walk.

At the bottom of the valley is a stream that runs gin clear and icy. During the rains it rose above the road so that walks, unless wading in wellies, wouldn’t have been possible here.   But now the road is dry and dusty and the stream has diminished to a trickle which is dammed by a huge bank of arum lilies. The first time I encountered them, a cloud of cottonwoolwhite, I exclaimed aloud: how beautiful!




And they continue to flourish, slender necked and yellow throated, with their emerald green petticoats.  The Afrikaans call them Varkoor, which translates as pig’s ear. But here they mock the idiom; here they are as ivorypale silk purses.






This morning I remembered my secateurs and gathered armfuls to bring home.   For such a delicate flower I am astonished at their vase life; they thrive for days, elegant heads unbowed.   It’ll be a full week before the voluptuous whiteness of their petals begins to grey and wrinkle.  And even then they hold their poise.



The sun clambers higher as I clamber the hill home so that by the time I summit, jumper tied about my waist now, the sky is high, horizons already smudged with a heathaze so that dovegrey seams to duckeggblue which deepens to cerulean.

There isn’t a cloud to be seen.




3 Responses to “Silk Purses from Sow’s Ears”

  1. Alex Says:

    On the face of it, I don’t think we have much in common, but I think we’d be friends if we ever met. Over the years I’ve come back to your blog again and again because you put your finger on emotions–on problems–that most people don’t quite understand…that it’s important to get up and get out of bed and make your own schedule and force your day to fill up with little thing that, before, might not have even qualified as “things” – it’s important to remember the past and still live in the present. I think you should write a book…a memoir? A novel? I know I’d read it.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Alex, thank you very much for your lovely, thoughtful comment. You have no idea how timely … i have to map my days, plan every hour, or they risk being lost in a mire which could morph as near madness such is the isolation at times. Yes. I think we would be friends.

  2. Michelle Crowsfeet Says:

    Beautiful. These flowers are very special to me and I found them here, completely bt accident. 🙂

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