Sometimes I write when the muse takes me. And sometimes, the muse does not take me anywhere. I have been busy recently. I have been preparing a series of You are Invited to be published as ebooks, trying to have them ready to launch out into the world by the New Year. It has consumed much of my time and energy but I have enjoyed every moment of it. So whilst my mind and my hands have been occupied with fonts and layouts, pictures and colour schemes, I have had little time to engage in writing.
As another Friday draws near I seek inspiration – but for the moment there is none. Idly I pick up a small notebook I carry with me all the time. Thumbing through the pages I find this short passage I wrote back in the South African autumn. It is not relevant to our season now – when I have a small dove sitting on her eggs outside my front door, the robins are frantically searching for grubs to feed their young, and the purple and pink of petria and cherry tree contrast beautifully in my garden. It is late spring here.
But somehow I was reminded of my northern readers, for whom autumn is all too real and perhaps, today, winter can be felt on the wind. Wherever you may be, may you enjoy this little interlude with me as I remember the smell of coffee and the vibrant colours of the season.
People gather at the small wooden tables under the trees. Summer leaves still cling to skeleton branches here and there, but the ground is a thick carpet of autumn colours. Yesterday it rained. For the first time in many weeks, the skies showered the land and the carpet of leaves is damp and smells deliciously of autumn.
I test the air for smoke, so provocative of childhood memories in a cooler clime. Nothing. But, just as I feel a pang of regret at its absence, my coffee arrives. Rich and steaming, it quickly fills the air with its fragrance.
The sun shines through the surviving leaves that dance in the breeze. I can feel winter in the wind. It is not here yet but it is coming. The breeze lifts the surface leaves and they scurry across the ground, twirling in patterns that reveal the path of the wind.
I take a sip of coffee. It is an indulgence, hot and delicious. I savour its taste and the luxury of such a special treat on this holiday morning.
A small plane putters overhead and as I look up through leaves and branches, I see the bright blue sky is patterned with white scudding clouds. Perhaps, later, there will be the gift of more rain.
Three musicians on the other side of the garden are strumming guitars and gently singing old melodies. Memories wash through me like warm showers of contentment. I sing along, careful not to intrude on others’ enjoyment with my average singing voice. The songs are part of my youth, part of who I am and I cherish them.
I take my time with my coffee, enjoying the ethos of this place.
The sunshine is warm when the wind drops for a moment. There is no agenda today. Life will happen as it happens.
I watch people. Eating, laughing, talking. I hear snippets of conversation that make no sense to me – a word here, a sentence there. All are living their own lives, all united for this moment in time by place, food and music. We are as one, even if others are not conscious of the bond. All one – members of the human race – the family of humankind – we are made in the image of God.
For me, sitting by myself on this holiday morning, I drink deeply of the sense of companionship this brings. It is so strong that I spend a moment in praise of my Creator who made it all – the people enjoying the luxury of a midweek holiday, the vibrant carpet of leaves, the skeleton shadows of branches, the warmth of the sun and the fragrance of coffee.
It is a perfect moment in an unscheduled day. A gift to taste and treasure, and I am content.