If we were having coffee together this Sunday morning, I would invite you to join me for a picnic on the beach. Let’s pack a basket with a thermos of French Vanilla Coffee, some cream, a few butternut rusks and a pair of binoculars.
I spend a few weeks each year in the country where I was born. For a few weeks each year, it is «Goodbye, Winter Weather» and «Hello, Summer Sunshine!». It is still early, so not too-too hot, the 33°C expected later today is still only a vague rumour and the sea breeze will keep us cool enough to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee.
We have been here for more than a week now: a whirlwind week crammed with exciting activities, meetings, meals and surprises. Today is really the first day that I have time to sit down and get my breath back. I am very grateful that I can share this supremely happy time with you, who have also shared some of my darkest moments. So let’s sit here against this sand dune. Dig out a seat for yourself and we’ll settle down to watch the crashing waves and breathe in deeply the wild thyme-scented sea air while I share with you what is on my mind today.
Today I am infinitely grateful.
I am immeasurably, profoundly, unwaveringly, intensely thankful that:
– I can be here today, on this unspoilt and deserted beach, during one of the hottest summers this part of Africa has known for years, far away from the rainy and overwhelmingly muddy days at home. Coming here is like going on a retreat ourselves; it helps us recharge our batteries so that we will be full of energy and enthusiasm when our Mindfulness Meditation Retreats season starts in spring.
– We have found a trustworthy, retired couple to look after our menagerie back home: all 6 horses, 1 dog and 3 cats. I care little about my stuff – I learnt two years ago when all our furniture was in storage for 15 months while we were looking for a house to buy, how little one actually needs to be happy – but I care about our animonsters, a lot, and knowing that they are in caring and experienced house sitting hands makes this holiday so much sweeter.
– I can travel here so fairly effortlessly. 12 hours on a plane and I find myself in a different world. When people first travelled here, it was a hazardous journey of at least 6 months, sometimes much longer, with the constant threat of pirates, disease, storms, shipwrecks and mutiny waiting in the wings.
– I have this time to spend with my father, talking about anything and sometimes about nothing, sometimes just sitting quietly together. I am so grateful that he is still healthy in body and in mind, active, curious, wise, witty and always, always, always there for me.
– The internet and e-mails exist, making it easy for me to stay in contact with those precious friends I left behind (especially Rosemary C and Carolyn W) and that this easy way of staying in contact enables me to share my experiences here with them – instantly.
– Facebook has given me the opportunity to make friends in different parts of this incredibly beautiful country and that I can look them up on my travels. Finally, I can meet the real person behind the Facebook friend photo – some of us have been friends for years and through thick and thin but have never met in person, until now.
– I have the opportunity to ride here too. I have already met and ridden three wonderful horses, through some of the most beautiful countryside and on the beach and I am hoping to meet some more horses and do some more riding next week.
– We could renew old friendships and make new friends. Admittedly, most are horse people, but I don’t think that matters, as we are rather horse-focused ourselves. What fun we had sharing our horse-joys and horse-disasters sitting around a campfire till all hours!
– There is such an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available here at the moment. And so terribly cheap! Pineapples, peaches, nectarines, melons, grapes of all colours, mangoes, papayas, lychees…after weeks of only oranges (however delicious) and apples at home, we can not get enough of this treasure.
– I can share this holiday with my better half. It makes every experience twice as wonderful and means that I shall, God willing, have someone to share the memories within the months (winter will still be in full swing when we get back) and years to come.
Good coffee, isn’t it? Had to be French Vanilla, of course, as I am the teensiest bit homesick. When you have finished, we’ll take the binoculars out and watch the racehorses train – the beach is the best place for them to get fit.
What did you think the binoculars were going to be for?
This post is part of the MJP Gratitude Challenge, Finish the sentence Friday and the Ten Things of Thankful Challenge (#10Thankful).
This post is also part of the #Weekend Coffee Share collection of blog posts, hosted by Diana of ParttimeMonster.com.