Jacaranda rain


It’s my birthday today. Yay! I spoilt myself by picking a huge bunch of roses from the garden. I haven’t baked a cake yet, but I’ve been craving the sponge cake with strawberries and cream that my grandmother always made at this time of year. Perhaps I will try it this weekend.

Martha Stewart would be proud.

I’m a Halloween baby, but Halloween wasn’t very big in South Africa when I was growing up. Far more important was whether we would be able to have a pool party for my birthday. Would it rain, wouldn’t it? Would it be warm enough so early in the summer? The other strong association I have with my birthday is Jacaranda blossoms, which usually turn Johannesburg into a sea of purple at this time of year. While we were in town this weekend I was determined to get some good photos of the Jacarandas. Alas, they were not at their peak or I fear a lot were damaged by hail storms in September. I took some photos anyway to share the moment. In a good year, when the Jacarandas are in full bloom, the streets in the suburbs I grew up get covered in a carpet of purple. Driving over the freshly fallen blossoms late at night or early in the morning with the windows down you can hear them popping. I just love that! The purple also becomes more intense when thunderstorms turn the sky dark and moody.

While I was in search of the perfect Jacaranda photo, I visited my cousin Julius van der Wat, who has recently become an artist. Julius is an exceptional person and his talent as an artist was recently revealed in an unexpected way. He has cerebral palsy, which means that he has never in his 34 years held a pen, drawn a line or written his name. Although he has used computers for many years, it was not until he bought an iPad that he discovered art. In only a few months, he has blossomed into a talented and dedicated craftsman with an eye for colour and a unique way of expressing his view of the world. It is a complete revelation, especially for Ouma Hannatjie who is also an abstract artist.

Julius at work on his iPad with his customised pointer designed by his brothers.

While we were visiting he started demonstrating how he works with his customised pointer. Completely coincidentally he was working on a piece called “Jacaranda rain”. In all honesty, they were the best Jacaranda’s I saw all weekend – vibrant, clear and beautiful!

Jacaranda rain by Julius van der Wat.

Ouma Hannatjie wanted me to chose a painting for my birthday present. After serious deliberation, I picked a piece called “Colourful Black”, which is now hanging in the passage outside our bedroom at Vastrap. I think it is beautiful. Thank you Julius!

Colourful Black by Julius van der Wat.