The Same Flesh


If you step outside onto the smokers’ balcony now – ten past 5 of Tuesday morning – you will be enveloped in a grey-green world of very strange predawn.

Low clouds are fleeing across the sky from East to West, under a high pearl white dome. The air tastes to all the senses of ice. The birds, when they show up, are hurrying to be somewhere else. It’s an odd morning for two weeks after Beltane in Joburg.

Yesterday, the atmosphere was filled with irritations. Probably most of us could sense the changing weather and reacted to it with a myriad little snipes against each other. A sort of two-axe day.

The weekend was better than that – a couple of days in which to improve my arachnid communication skills with the aid of a huge Rain Spider who stationed herself on the wall beside the loo. I’ve come a fair distance since I was terrified of big, hairy spiders, but lurking at head-height adjacent to the place where I sit to relieve myself is guarantee that I’m going to have to Do Something About It.

So I spoke with her, and asked her politely if she wouldn’t consider moving, just a little, so that I could wee in more comfort. I shut the door on her and returned a half hour later to find she’d moved around the corner to the shower stall. Much better – until of course I wanted to take a shower. She was now in hunter mode, long legs crooked for a fast take off after scurrying ants. I gave her another hour, then asked again if she wouldn’t mind moving out of the bathroom altogether.

And she did.

That afternoon, as I was sweeping the rug in the lounge, a dark shape barrelled through the back door, missing me by inches. I gave an involuntary shriek, which brought both my furry children out into the back garden on high alert, growlingly menacing the grass on my behalf.

It was a bat. We have our share of flying mammals at the Witches’ Cottage in Bloubosrand, and sometimes they blunder indoors, although not usually in the full light. If they get out again with their lives, they are fortunate or very canny, for our girlie loves herself some winged rodent snack. This one got away, after more than 12 hours indoors, keeping very still. She snuck back out the way she’d come.

Waking up at three this morning, riding the highways almost deserted of traffic except for a tanker broken down in the middle lane, I have a slight sense of apocalypse which the weird morning weather is doing nothing to allay.

And, going around and around in my consciousness are some words of the Bard McKenna, speaking at Essalen in the closing years of the last century:

“The mushroom said to me once, for one human being to seek enlightenment from another is like a grain of sand on the beach seeking enlightenment from another..It’s the same flesh.”

And so it is. Rain Spider, Fruit Bat, Furry Child or human – we all help each other in that quest, but none can be truly said to dispense its essence. It has to be obtained through your own interface with the universe.

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