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Open Features: And She Smiles At Me

Jacqueline Dowling brings a wonderfully uplifting Christmas story from Western Cape, South Africa.

Call me a sceptic, which I probably am, but when I hear the first muzakal Christmas drones
grinding through our local superstore in mid-November, I take fright and run.

The day was hot, no white Christmas in sight. Red nosed reindeer and jingling bells
had failed dismally in their task of muffling the world in white. Glitzy trees flashed their signals
- Come and Spend spend spend. Only nine hundred and sixty shopping hours left 'til

And then I heard it, very faintly through the hubbub and clatter of trolleys, the cadences
easy and gentle. '.And he smiled at me - pa - rup -a -pom -pom...' suddenly my hectic
materialistic world, for a moment stood still.

I left the noise, the glitz and frenetic Come and buy buy buy of the stores and went
down to the cliffs. To the sea. To the birds and whales.
The rocks were warm, the sea just a summer whisper of clear aquamarine. Sapphire
pools filled with tiny darting fish and huge waving sea-anemones where flocks of Oyster
Catchers strutted their scarlet way, their high pitched wheeeee carried on the southerly
breeze. Across the bay Southern Rights spouted and lolled, lazy in the swells. I was quite
alone, blissfully detached . But still the haunting lyrics of The Little Drummer Boy stayed with
me, like a carousel going around and around and around.

A shadow moved into the pool at my feet, silently slipping through the kelp. A large
shadow, followed by a much smaller one. It was a whale cow with her newly born calf. She
came to rest within metres of my rock, nudged the little body towards her and suckled it. I
watched, awed by the love between these two gentle creatures, by their grace and utter trust.

And then, in one swift movement, the mother thrust her calf to the surface and blew.

Twin spouts of warm oily mist drifted towards me as she raised her head, opened her
massive jaws - and smiled.

Jac Dowling


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