It’s late at night and all is quiet. The heat of a perfect day in Cape Town has transformed into a balmy night, the inky blackness punctuated by a billion stars surrounding our planetary home. It is so still that not a star twinkles, the light uninterrupted as it shines down on us in patterns that have guided explorers across the ages to find their way to new places and home again. The waxing moon is high overhead, with Mars accompanying it across the ecliptic, descending into the Atlantic as the Milky Way sweeps in a magnificent arc of glowing gas, dust and rock.
The faint glow of the lights of greater Cape Town outline the mountains to the north, the familiar Table Mountain easily identifiable even in starlight, and the measured flash of the Slangkop lighthouse signals to passing ships that tonight is a good night to be passing the fairest cape in all the circumference of the globe. Cicadas are shrilling in the milkwoods and night herons call as they pass overhead to their nocturnal feeding ground beyond the lighthouse.
A small shore break reminds me that the sea is close by despite the warmth in the air, and an occasional drift brings the scent of ozone and salt and freshly turned kelp wafting in my direction. There are lights on all around, reminding me that we are actually in the middle of suburbia. If there were none, it would be easy to imagine that I was an early inhabitant, looking at the stars and listening to the sea from my rock shelter a little way up the mountain.
I wish it could be so for everyone – to have a night filled with nothing but peace and tranquillity.