Just up the hill from my house, is a heritage site, Melville Koppies Central, where Stone and Iron Age artefacts have been discovered and preserved. It's not generally open to the public, but they have Open days for walkers and hikers, birding days, and for the first time last Saturday, a sketching, painting and photography day. John, Anni and I jumped at the chance to spend a morning in this wild spot of nature in the middle of Joburg, and we really felt as if we were out in the bush, apart from distant sounds of traffic and boys playing soccer down at Marks Park.
I had planned to move around, sketching from the top of the koppie, down to the forested area lower down, but ended up sitting at the same spot, just turning my chair around to face South, then East, and finally North, before two of the hardworking custodians of the site, Wendy and John came to tell us they were locking up. I became fascinated with the thatching grass all around me - long and dry in the middle of winter, at first it seemed a uniform blond ochre, the more I looked, the more colours I saw. Pinks, golds, mauve and blue, shots of luminescent green - impossible to put them all in without drawing each stalk individually - and glimpses of the city looking soft and gentle through the waving strands - I felt I could paint there for weeks on end.
We've been told we can go back and paint when the Birders are there - really look forward to another escape to the country - so close by!