Monday, December 30, 2013

Home in Harlem

Proudly South African mementos, with breakfast coffee

I must still unpack.

But here is what I brought back from Cape Town to Harlem.

Marguerite Poland is a South African author best known, I think, for her volumes of children's stories, which are by far amongst the best I ever read. I still return to them, and to their gorgeous illustrations by Leigh Voigt. They are the real - as in authentic - stories of the South African bush, told from the perspective of the indigenous animal and plant life. They are also timeless, classic in the sense that they belong to every child, of every age, and every place. She is the Grimms of Africa. Look for The Mantis and the Moon, Once at Kwafubesi...but there are many more.

Taken Captive by Birds is her new book, and a gift from my mother. 

(I once won a writing competition in South Africa despite cribbing an animal name from one of her books. With my R25 prize money ($2.50 - hey, I was 11. It was long ago) I bought more books, including another of hers.)

Linen - also from my mom, who knows I have a white linen fetish. Granadilla (passion fruit) pulp. I will stir it into the icing sugar for a hot milk sponge. The lime and ginger scrub and soap smelled too good not to bring home. Baobab oil. Who knew? It says it's good for everything. Spray it on, rub it in. The rabbit terrine was a gift from the Voer-ders (ex-Pretoria, now living in Canada, and out for holiday) whom I met for lunch in Koringberg. Can't wait to try it.

Last night in the dark, in rain, arriving in the cab with the Frenchman who had met me at JFK, sparkly lights twinkled from our windows, welcoming me home. They glitter beautifully. 

Inside the apartment with the tall ceilings, were a happy black cat, a little Christmas tree, also aglow, with unexpected gifts below it. There was another, smaller kitchen island, exactly the one I wanted, beside the stove, wrapped in ribbon, spread with unread New Yorkers and the edible treats I like. There were delicious little pies for supper, just like Cape Town pies, from Pie Face, a shop he's found on 23rd Street. We drank Goats do Roam, ate arugula salad spiked with garlic against flying germs, and talked. 

I slept like a log in the soft white bed.

It's good to be home.

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