By Jac Dowling
This month . . . what? A momentary lapse of cogniscence, a Senior Moment? Could be either because I’m currently in a state of suspended agitation / anticipation / anxiety with finger nail devastation as evidence. The reason being the imminent (or otherwise) arrival in the UK of Very Small Person #4. We’ve had two false alarms to date, but the little chap seems quite comfy where he is, with no immediate plans for a grand appearance.
So yesterday evening I installed myself on the stoep and concentrated on thoughts of a tranquil nature. Autumn sunset washed across the rock face in soft peach and bronze, two buzzards spread their wings against the light as they soared in search of prey, and several paragliders drifted across from the jumpsite just above us. Their wings blended into the dusk in shades of orange, cream, scarlet and apricot. All just so perfectly peaceful until the ubiquitous hadedahs screeched into view and ruined everything. Even the mossie family, now six in total, left the bird feeder in disgust and haven’t returned. The pigeons remained grounded and did what pigeons seem to do every couple of months – except we never see a baby pigeon.
Paragliding looks, from our aspect, to be a perfect antidote to stress. Floating up and down under a safe and colourful wing, most of the time extremely safe. But not always so. We’ve had one bloke pull his lines too vigorously and land in a schoolyard nearby, as school was coming out. His wing covered a bakkie, his thigh bone appeared somewhere under his armpit. Bad news. Then we had a learner land up in a gum tree, same schoolyard, same time of day. I offered to call the fire brigade with a long ladder, which kind gesture was immediately refused due to cost restraints. Poor guy hung between a branch and a very sharp spike while the instructor yelled at him not to get his lines tangled . . . never mind the state of his nether regions.
There were three occasions on which mountain rescuers were called out to help gliders off ledges on the mountain face. One of them was on a naughty holiday -his wife supposing him to be at a conference somewhere in the Middle East; that must have taken a bit of explaining since his injuries were pretty extensive and the eventual rescue involved an army helicopter which eventually got him down to the school playing field from where he was taken by air ambulance to Cape Town.
More recently a rookie glider was up on his own, lovely green wing glowing in the late light, when he suddenly disappeared. We drove up the mountain to see if he’d crashed and, looking down, saw him almost, but not quite, impaled on one of Eskom’s spikey sub-stations, right next to the cemetery. Which is next to three churches and a synagogue. So, had the worst come to the worst, he’d have been well situated – and his wing remained intact. Good news.
I’m now proposing to resume my efforts at achieving a state of total tranquillity, wait for tonight’s show of wings, and hope that our little chap arrives safe and sound and soon. And that no-one lands up in an adjacent gumtree in the immediate future.
picture from freedigitalphotos.net