I wonder what Guy Butler would have said about this Karoo jol? If Guy were 20 in 2012, would he have chucked a tent and a sleeping bag into his bakkie and hotfooted it to AfrikaBurn, or would he rather have spent the weekend warming his swivel chair, scribbling poetry and watching thorn trees grow?

Guy Butler’s autobiography

Karoo Morning is another kind of Karoo experience. A real life one; the story of Guy Butler’s childhood. It’s an old book, but whenever I want to read something beautiful and simple, with words that feel like they’re knitted together with wisdom and wit and emotion, I whip this off my shelf. From a time and a place that was as brutal as it was gentle.

Guy Butler and my father’s family came from the same farming clan near Cradock in the Eastern Cape. It’s cool and interesting reading about people whose names I’ve heard my father mention so many times over suppers, they became like diningroom wallpaper.

How Guy Butler writes is beautiful. Especially his endings. Like the last few lines of this chapter.

And this ending:

I am crying from the depths of my being; I am sitting on a train and it is jerking into movement; a lady I hardly know with a lovely face is sitting opposite me, smiling and speaking kind words, but to no avail. Then she stops speaking, purses her lips, and does what no woman has ever done before: she whistles like a bird. I stop crying. My new Aunt Hilda had no further difficulties with me on the long train journey to Louisvale.

From the Paint&Place Zero VOC paint collection.

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