They can be enlightening, amusing or interesting. They can also be tedious or downright boring, but when other people’s holiday photos are of your own country, they can be inspiring and revelatory.
For some reason, many of us seem to view South Africa through a glass darkly. Perhaps it has something to do with the burden of guilt – so hard to shrug off – our chaotic crime rate and equally chaotic politicians. Perhaps we’re simply too subjective, colouring every view with our pervasive uncertainty; ‘What If?’ in invisible ink, etched on the back of every photograph.
But when presented with a visitor’s perspective, there’s a sudden jolt of recognition: we see our country for what it is, one of the most diverse and beautiful places in the world. I had this experience recently when family and friends shared their summer holiday ‘snaps’ with me and with Johannesburg already adrift on a russet leaf sea, I thought it would be a good time to put them out there, these reflections of just one small part of South Africa.
What is it about Autumn that draws out a sense of nostalgia? Our suburbs are awash with leaf-fall, our pavements crunch beneath our feet. With the drawing in of days, and the shaking out of down duvets comes the daunting prospect of power cuts and long, dark nights, Summer bows out and leaves one wondering how it could have seemed so fleeting. So now seems like a good time for a Retrospective Summer Review. All these photographs were taken in the Western Cape; probably the best place to be during our summer months. Some were taken by my niece, Kate, who was visiting from England…..
……….some by a great friend, Alastair, now living in the States, who was showing his new Texan relatives around….
……and some by my gifted sister-in-law, Pam, who has the ability to capture images of her beloved West Coast in a way that makes one yearn to be there.
Kate made her way all around the Cape Peninsular, from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Indian Ocean and inland to the vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschoek.
Sometimes we just need a little distance; someone else’s eye to the lens, to keep things in perspective.
Thank you Al, Katie and Pam for sharing these memories of a special summer. Please keep taking beautiful photographs –
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.