Winter is coming. The sun streaming in through my bedroom curtains no longer rouse me, and my cockatiel looks at me accusingly when I wake him up in the mornings, ruffling his feathers disgustedly as if to say: “I don’t have to get up yet, even if you do.” There is a chill breeze early in the mornings and the trees are looking decidedly sorry for themselves, their leaves turning a golden orange, while the garden flowers are starting to wilt. Even the sun is just that little bit lower on the horizon when I go home in the evenings and, even though the days are still very hot, I know soon enough I’ll have to start bundling myself up in warm jerseys and colourful scarves to keep the winter blues away.
It’s usually at about this time of year when the longing to jump on a plane and zip off to Europe overtakes me. But this year, my overseas holiday is only in November, so I will have to come up with a new plan to escape the cold weather.
Clear blue skies, the waves roaring as they crash on the beach, a seagull soaring overhead… Funnily enough, one of my favourite destinations is not in Europe, or in the exotic and faraway East, but right here in South Africa, on the unspoiled coast of the Eastern Cape. My heart is suddenly yearning for the sleepy little holiday hamlet called Cape St. Francis.
I want to take long walks on the beach, the wind whipping through my hair and the icy cold waters nipping at my toes. I want to sit on a rock and watch the whales swim past, or walk through the greenery of the nature reserve to see the exquisite little wildflowers in bloom, or visit the penguins at the rehabilitation centre. I want to go to bed at night with the chokka-boats’ lights twinkling in the distance and the beam from the lighthouse shining through my window at regular intervals lulling me to sleep.
The Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran, once said: “The things which the child loves remain the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.” To me, Cape St Francis is such a place, and I can’t wait to go there again.
Do you have a place of the heart that you return to year after year?