The hot African Sun blazes out of the sky, scorching the garden around me. The hadeda picks her way around the grass. Underneath the flimsy protection of the garden umbrella, I stare at the pad on my lap that has one sentence on it. I can feel the sweat down the back of my neck. Caused not by the heat, but by the task at hand.
12 noon December 31st. Time to list the resolutions for 2019.
I repeat this on an annual basis. A list of five to ten items I resolve to do and fail spectacularly each year.
I have spent two hours so far and the list has a single item on it.
Talking aloud sometimes helps let me try that.
“So last year, John, you had ‘Stop drinking alcohol’. That went well. Until your birthday on the 6th of January. Remember? Three bottles of wine with your friends over dinner. Not such a good one was it?
“Then you had ‘drive responsibly’. That went well until you got pulled over, tested and found to be over the limit. The weekend spent in jail till you were in front of the magistrate on Monday afternoon. The six-month ban on driving and the fine on top.
“’Walk the dog twice a day whatever the weather’ went quite well during the first week of January. But then the Highveld thunderstorms returned. Drying the rain-soaked Labrador was more than a little tedious. Park that one you did before the end of the month.
“Walking the dog was also meant to be part of the ‘Get fit’ that was the fourth on the list. At least you didn’t commit to joining a gym like you did the year before last. Complete waste of money that was. You only went once!
“And what happened to ‘spend more time in the garden’? Have a look around. The beds look no different to last year and the grass needs a cut. You could go and do that now you know. The roses need dead-heading but I suppose you will leave it for the gardener to do when he returns the week after next.
“Lift up the pad and let’s see how it reads.”
I pick up the pad. It is not a long sentence, just four words.
“Don’t make any resolutions!” I scream at the hadeda. She squawks and flies away.
“Only one this year.” I feel my neck. Not as sweaty as it was.
Note from Wikipedia The hadada or hadeda ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), is an ibis found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is named for its loud three to four note calls uttered in flight especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees.
Mark Patterson was born in St. Helens Lancashire and emigrated to South Africa in 1970. He has lived in Johannesburg ever since. He works for a software company and writes in his spare time.