Lockdown Journal: Day 24 (A Secret Garden)

by | Apr 19, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg | 11 comments

If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day (now 35-day) lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts.

It’s Day 24 of lockdown. It’s also the fourth weekend of lockdown and I can’t make sense of this in my head. I had to go look at the calendar just now to confirm, because somehow it doesn’t seem mathematically possible.

Fiver's secret garden
Lockdown photo Day 24: A secret garden behind a block of flats in Killarney.

Today I have to apologize for excessive posting. Not only have I now blogged for 27 consecutive days — I don’t think I’d ever blogged more than three days consecutively before this — but today I posted TWICE, for reasons I’ll explain below. I’m sorry for spamming you.

Today was also a day of great excitement: I left the house and went somewhere other than a food shop. My friends Fiver and Stuart had to leave Joburg suddenly just before the lockdown, and I have their spare keys. So I went to their flat in Killarney to…you know…check on the place. (Okay I mainly went to get wine and food, especially wine, but the place needed checking too.)

Unlocking the door to Fiver and Stuart’s flat, I was shocked by how euphoric I felt. I walked from room to room with a sense of wonder, inspecting every book and piece of furniture as if I’d never seen it before. I guess that’s what happens when you walk into another person’s home, especially a friend’s home, after nearly a month of being only in your own.

Items in Fiver and Stuart's house
Stuff that belongs to my friends (and their landlord).

Fiver and Stuart’s flat backs up to a steep hillside. On that hillside is the most beautiful garden. I’ve visited Fiver and Stuart at this flat at least 50 times over the years, but for some reason I’d never walked in the garden. Until today.

View of the flats from the garden.
Killarney garden
It’s like a well manicured jungle.
Flowers in the Killarney garden
New flowers to photograph!
Killarney garden and sky
The sky from a different angle.

As I strolled around the garden, admiring every flower and leaf, I noticed a man in a surgical mask walking briskly up and down the corridor outside his flat. Obviously he has been practicing — I still find it difficult to walk briskly and breathe through a facemask at the same time.

The man stopped and we made 45 seconds of small talk, a good 15 meters between us. He’s lived in the building four years but only explored the garden once, with his granddaughter. (Now I don’t feel as badly.) It’s a lovely garden, isn’t it? Yes, it certainly is. He walks the corridor for exercise but doesn’t like the stairs. Ah, yes. Have a good day! Thank you. You too.

I know I’ve said this already. But this pandemic makes mundane things feel magical.

I walked out of Fiver and Stuart’s building with three bulging grocery bags. Pritchard, the security guard, looked at me a bit askance. But I suspect he was also grateful for the opportunity to make small talk with someone — anyone — for a moment or two.

Secret garden

Today’s Worthy Cause

As mentioned above, this is the second blog post I’ve written today. The first one, suggested by reader Kim Penstone, was a list of all the worthy causes I’ve featured so far in the lockdown series. Great suggestion, Kim. There are 20 causes so far. I’ve pasted that post at the top of my blog’s homepage and will continue to add to it as the series continues.

If you’d like to help someone today, please go to the list and choose your favorite. I’ll feature another new cause tomorrow.


  1. John Nickel

    Beautiful garden indeed!

  2. Peggy Laws

    Beautiful garden. What a lovely day of escapism for you!

    • 2summers

      Thanks Peggy, it was.

  3. Catrina

    I’m sure Fiver is happy to see her garden again through your photos. It’s definitely beautiful.
    Great that you could restock on wine!

    • 2summers

      Thanks Catrina. I’m sure she is very happy 🙂

  4. Lani

    Nice score. Did you tell your friends? Hahahhaa. Just kidding.

    • 2summers

      Hahaha. They all know now ????

  5. Alex

    Heather, your description of seeing Fiver and Stuart’s flat with new eyes is so lovely! I feel like I’ve had a weird mirror version of your experience, or perhaps more accurately a precursor, because it happened a couple of weeks before London went into lockdown: the last home I spent any time in other than my own was Fiver and Stuart’s houseboat in Holland, when they were still in Killarney.

    • 2summers

      Thanks Alex. We do have somewhat parallel lives! Happy belated birthday 🙂


Leave a Reply