Judith Mason

She takes everyone by surprise. People are either intrigued or repulsed – but no one is unaffected. She watches over my family like a mythical guardian and ancestral deity.

She growls her affection and sneers at any reciprocation. Cynical and scared of her own love and that of others’. Her personal pain is etched in her reflection as her hair snakes around her open and broken jaws. She pleads understanding yet offers no olive branch. Flies are frozen in the moment – shaken into a reluctant halo. Mother Medusa, mother, muse. 

Judith Mason: you reminded me that a fragile beauty is hidden in the brutal monsters we create to protect what we love or fear losing. Thank you for your brave journey, for exposing and challenging, for your fierce talent and kind soul. I only met you once, but your “Muse Amused” will continue a conversation with me forever.

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Relief

Big fat drops of rain are falling from the sky! It’s slicing the thick air for hours now and the earth is almost audibly sighing with relief.

Yesterday we stepped off the plane from Cape Town, into the heavy humidity of the Lowveld. It looked like it may rain, but even the optimist in me had become cautious to not get excited too soon.

It was good to be back. The granite hills welcomed us, dressed in their summer greens despite the drought. Driving home from the airport, clouds climbed those hills and reached enormous proportions. The horizon became dark grey and the air even thicker with hope.

Last night, as the sun settled beneath the koppies, the sky released its contents and it has been raining – constantly and beautifully – since then.

Pause

From an awkward vantage point, on my back, I see my two girls running and waddling like excited seabirds next to their father. The excitement to see the ocean for the first time overwhelming their senses. They dart around. Stop. Stare. Maia turns around to look back at me while the breeze plays with her curls. Dara bends down to pick up a pebble. Both in open-mouth astonishment at the rushing sheets of water inching closer to their soft pink toes. 

In a moment Maia will come running back with goosebumps and a wrinkled nose – it is a bit too nippy for her. Dara will come back to the nest of beachbags, cookies and towels in a moment too. 

But just now, I glimpse them out in the world to discover for themselves, to explore the boundaries between fear and fascination with so much innocence and awe.

I dig my toes into the warm white sand. This moment I will keep forever.I take a deep breath and close my eyes as I feel gratitude on my skin. Pause.

Joy to the world

This week I saw a young couple walking from the government hospital in the direction of the nearest bus stop in Mbombela. The man was carrying a bag across his shoulders and the slight woman beside him had, cradled in her arms, a small bundle covered with a fresh white blanket. She was wearing a fashionable Cuban-style hat and a floral summer dress. They walked tall and proud. They walked on air in the hot Lowveld sun. As I slowed my car to a halt at the traffic light, they too paused in the cool shade under a big tree next to the road. The tree was heavy with this season’s red flowers. They spoke to each other as they carefully switched their cargo; from his shoulder to hers, from her arms to his. The light turned green. As I pulled away in the opposite direction, I saw them in my rear-view mirror walking again … with tomorrow still sleeping peacefully in his arms.