Just when I think I have things organised, a Mozambican Spitting Cobra finds its way between the stacked canvasses in the studio and emits a low growl. So, I explain to the courier that they will have to come back later to fetch the paintings that are off to a white cube gallery in Johannesburg, because first we have to catch the snake. They understand the problem. Or a nearby friend casually mentions that last night he heard lions roaring (when the rivers are low, animals cross from the Kruger National Park and make their way through the wild and wonderful bush that tumbles around the granite koppies). So the next night I stay up late hoping to hear the lions and in the morning have difficulty concentrating on my work. Despite my best efforts, enormous porcupines burrow under the fence at night and decimate my carefully cultivated, organic lettuce. They wake us with their snorting and the clatter of their quills. The remains of the veg garden are then finished off by the hefty baboons that wait for the moment when there is nobody home. These are Lowveld problems.
It's more than the wildlife though. Living a less sanitised existence keeps people real. There is a general air of getting on with things, slowly and with a good dollop of the human touch. It is possible to reach a healthy level of intimacy with people very quickly, with the teller at the supermarket or the headmaster of the school. We don't generally let stuff get in the way and eye contact is as rife as the mosquitoes.
The air is different too, laden and thicker. Most of the time it is warm and if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celsius, we look at each other in surprise and wind our scarves tighter.
This is not where I imagined I would live. Somehow I had designs on a more sophisticated place. Too late for that, but I have so much more.