Freedom Writer ~ Frank Watts ~ author ~ nature guide ~ legend!
Freedom Writer ~ Frank Watts ~ author ~ nature guide ~ legend!
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Another week in paradise

Frank Watts Appreciation Taking paradise for granted

This past week we have been looking for a place to live. We already have a place to live but we have to vacate these premises by the end of the month.

The pandemic has really put us in an adverse position, like so many others throughout the world, and we decided to sell our house to free up some much needed cash to survive, seeing as how we have no income right now.

We live in an amazing place with wildlife all around us and over the years we have begun to take so much for granted,  So much so that the antelope and zebras strolling past the house hardly got a second glance. A giraffe drinking out of the swimming pool gets our attention, I must admit. A pack of wild dogs trotting by really gets us going but at the end of the day, this was our life; the life we had chosen for ourselves and worked so hard to make a reality, until Covid-19 arrived and made us truly see what has been in front of us all these years.

Once the papers had all been signed and the sale of our home became a reality, a mild panic set in as we scurried about trying to find a place to rent, that was both affordable and available - no easy task considering that half of the employable citizens in South Africa are doing the same, and a large number of people in the small town where we live in are also part of the tourism industry and struggling to keep their heads above water - making similar decisions on a daily basis.

In the last couple of days I have actually seen and noticed every single wild creature that has come within 100 metres of our home, from the guinea fowl that wake us up every morning to the quiet little duiker that approaches with such caution to nibble on our favourite flowers. The other day I was telling them all softly how much I was going to miss them when Di came out and asked me who I was talking to. It was a difficult toss up (what would sound more crazy?) between saying “to myself”, or “to the animals”, so I gave her a blank stare and she shook her head and wandered off.

With the help of our friendly estate agent Di found a house which is a long term rental and because of the present situation is also reasonably priced. She came home and told me excitedly about her find and dragged us all out to go and see where we would be living for the next goodness knows how long.

I could not believe our good fortune when she drove into the wildlife estate bordering on the one where we had lived for the last 6 years and stopped in front of a lovely house nestled amongst the acacia trees. A family of warthogs (pumba) strolled off as we alighted from the car. I was so happy, even more so when I saw the faces of Emily and Aidan light up.  The expressions of concern that they have been carrying around with them gave way to beautiful smiles of relief.

With a couple of weeks to go before we move the kids are already packing with such enthusiasm. There is an energy in our home that is igniting hope for our future. We are still waiting for the tourists to come flooding back so we can once again be a part of their dream holiday and although we do not know when this is going to happen, the mountain we have to climb every day looks a lot prettier than it did a few days ago.

We have all learnt appreciation during this difficult time.  We have been given the gift of not taking our lives for granted. We hear the birds, we feel the breeze and we experience the life around us because we know it is so fragile and it is never forever. We know now the feeling of living one day at a time and how it demands from you respect and tolerance and gratitude. It is refreshing to wake up early on a chilly winters morning and drive through the empty streets of our little town taking Emily to the stables, and it is humbling to watch her video the sunrise with her broken phone so she can put it on her status.

Aidan often sits quietly looking out of the window, having his breakfast while he waits in his Google classroom for the teacher and I wonder what he is thinking. I worry that he is missing the time he had at boarding school and that his little heart is sore. I watch him for a while and when I say “ Hey AJ, are you ok ? “  he turns and looks at me with a big smile on his face and I have to believe he is looking at the same rainbow as we are.

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