Table Mountain is ever present in our lives here. It looms benevolently over Cape Town, enfolds the city in its skirts and even makes its presence felt way out into the country where we are, drawing our eye every morning as I drive the kids to school, gladdening our hearts when the top is free of clouds and we can see its classic profile, communicating its energy even when it is engulfed in fluffy cloud. It has a powerful aura.For the kids a trip up in the cable car is a rare and longed for treat. Rare because it is expensive, prices aimed at tourists, locals are expected to walk up. In winter though from May to September they have a special offer, two kids per adult go free, so we try to achieve an annual trip up. Of course you can't plan too far in advance. The weather can be extremely contrary and the mountain tends coyly to gather a blanket of cloud around itself and shrug off visitors at a moment's notice. Last year we thought we'd go up on my birthday, which would have got my ticket for free too, another special for SA residents, but wind and cloud swept the plan away. This year we gave it another try.
I spent the morning looking out of the window at the passing clouds - the top of the mountain had been visible when I took the kids to school, but was there a cold front on its way? Every now and again I rang my husband in town to get him to look out of the window for a mountain top visibility report. When I fetched the kids from school the mountain top was still there but lines of sea mist seemed to be drifting towards it and fluffy clouds were puffing voluminously in its direction. After having fed the kids, I rang once more to make the decision - in the hour it would take to get there the weather could have changed again so it was a gamble. We threw the dice and decided to go for it.
We met up at the bottom of the cable car laden with spare tops and jackets but miracle of miracles the sky was clearing, the clouds off to party on the Paarl mountains instead. The cable car swirled us up the side of the mountain effortlessly in minutes, revolving as it went so everyone got to see the 360 degree view, then we emerged onto a sunny plateau, on top of the world.
Bright sunshine, cool crisp air and a feeling of soul food being replenished cocooned us with well-being. The children clambered over rocks, we ambled along winding paths, sat on a rock to open a birthday present and eventually made our way to the restaurant for exorbitantly priced ice creams.
It was so beautiful up there, looking into the distance to see our hill, watching the wisps of clouds above us and the long line of white cotton-wool puffs out at sea that reminded me of a camel train across the desert, that we hardly wanted to come back down to reality again.
A birthday cake awaited us however, nobly baked by my sister-in-law, so we dealt with the rush hour traffic with admirable equilibrium and made it home in time to cook supper and eat cake for pudding. My son had added enough candles to light up the room, but still not as many as my advanced age demanded!