Spring weather in the Midlands is predictably unpredictable. One minute we are sweltering in 30ºC temperatures and the next thing you know we are shivering as the thermometer drops below 10. Fortunately the cold weather brought much-needed rain that has coaxed the garden out of hibernation. The colouring in has begun.
My son Alex phoned me earlier this week after he had written his final exam at uni (touch wood). Four years ago when we dropped him off at “Die Withuis” (Simonsberg residence), he looked so forlorn that my heart broke as we drove away (I’m sure, with hindsight, that I was projecting my own angst onto the poor lad). And now he has just finished his accounting honours degree after having had the best of times in Stellenbosch. “I can’t believe it Ali, it seems like just the other day you were starting your studies” I exclaimed. “I know, it’s depressing” he replied “they say these are the best years of your life and now it’s over”. I assured him, jokingly, that it was all downhill from here on. Little does he know of course, that if he plays his cards right, it only gets better – it just won’t ever be the same.
Although I’m aware that most of the time when I look back on my youth it is with rose-tinted glasses, sometimes, especially when certain music prompts wonderful memories, I pine for the fjords of my early years. No band has the ability like Traffic does, to transport (?) me straight back to a specific place in time when I was a young teenager, when life was still quite simple and laid out in front of me like a long and winding road.
Traffic has always been one of my all-time favourite bands. Steve Winwood’s beautiful soulful voice and Traffic’s distinctive sound always manage to stir an incredible sense of longing in me, an ache for when I was gloriously young, unaffected by time and carefree – it’s a “lekker eina” (sweet pain) feeling.
Would I still go down the same paths knowing what I know now? Was I always destined to be this person that I turned out to be? How random were the changes that happened in my life? And what the bloody hell happened to those years between then and now?
Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?
Since moving to the country I have become more philosophical about ageing. I have discovered that the ebb and flow of life here is more tangible and that there is a resolute rhythm that I never noticed when I lived in the city. The swallows return, the spring rains come and brown turns to green. I have a sense of change being something that one anticipates and celebrates; it doesn’t feel as random as I used to think it was. I suppose that I will always look back on my youth with nostalgia but instead of yearning after it, I would like to think that it prepared me for now. No matter how old I am, the road will still be winding on ahead of me, with new distances to travel. And who knows, the best could be yet to come, if I play my cards right!
I couldn’t choose a favourite Traffic song for this post, but I did find this video showing Steve Winwood as he is now, looking good and with a voice that still sends shivers up my spine.