Day 65: Sparrow’s Nest

I’m on the beach walking off John and Mariette’s Christmas dinner the night before. They had to postpone it because Mariette worked over the festive season. There is a slight drizzle in the air, but it is refreshing, not bothersome.

So deep in thought am I that the voice startles me. It belongs to a woman who has pulled up next to me in her car. She is saying something about stray cats and dogs and asks me where I am going. She will give me a lift because she is also heading into town. I admire her tiny frame and beautiful long brown hair. Before I can even thank her she says that she is taking me home and feeding me. She is Ella Groenewald, who lives here with her husband, Johan.

Back at her house Ella is on the phone immediately. With her hand over the receiver, she explains, ‘I’m asking Bettie to come over and meet you. She’s my sister-in-law.’

Before I have finished my tea and cake Bettie is on the doorstep and we are sharing uBuntu stories. Bettie says she is not surprised at all that Ella picked me up. ‘She and her friend pick up all the strays in town!’

Bettie wants me to stay at her house (I guess I will have to let John and Mariette know), ‘but first we are going to a family lunch. And you are coming along.’

When we arrive a place has already been set for me. This day is moving so fast with so many people to get to know, I can’t remember them all. We do not stay long after the meal, because Bettie has to go to work. She helps out temporarily at a bookshop.

In a giant maze of short left and right turns we pull up in front of her home. Bettie cannot show me around or she’ll be late, so we exchange cellphone numbers, she hands me her keys and the alarm code and tells me to make myself at home. There is food in the fridge if I’m hungry, she’ll see me later . . . after five. And she’s gone. I am momentarily frozen to the road in front of her house. Did this woman just hand a total stranger her keys and alarm code?

First I catch up on some writing and then decide to challenge myself. Can I find my way to the beach and back before Bettie’s return? I find the beach and the sea sand scrunches itself up between my toes as I wander along. Eventually the sun elongates my shadow, painting a tall, angled me on the beach canvas. As I turn to go my phone rings. Bettie has left work early and is now effectively locked out of her own home. We laugh and she tells me to stay put, she’s coming to collect me because we are going to her friend, Binkie, for dinner.

Besides sharing a meal, already on the table when we get there, the three of us also share a passion for nature and photography. It is a glorious evening.

The rest of my time with Bettie is spent on catching up with nature and with myself. Oh, and eating. When it is time to leave, she hands me an envelope. Inside is a home-made greeting card. I open it and see another, teeny-tiny, bright yellow envelope glued above words that thank me for my visit and for the lessons learnt. I am curious and prise it open. In it is a one cent coin, on whose face two sparrows are depicted. Bettie explains that it is meant to be a token. Her home’s name is Mossienes and – Bettie looks at me – ‘God takes care even of the sparrows. He will take care of you.’