I'd been smelling smoke for at least an hour. First, from the water where I was fooling about with the girls and a borrowed windsurfer board.
'I'm sure I smell burning.' I called to husband, standing on the lawn. We both scanned the mountains and he climbed the external staircase to get a better vantage.
Later I smelt it again, and again looked around for that telltale yellowish stain in the sky. The Cape is full of fire this time of year.
After a bit I overheard Frieda talking to someone coming past on the water, she does this quite often and I felt momentarily annoyed to hear her say 'What?' - we've been working hard on the preferable 'Excuse me?', or her inexplicable favourite, 'Could you repeat that?'.
But then she was calling me in alarm, her tone much more serious and her words much more worrying: 'Mum, that lady says our jetty's on fire. And it is!'
And it was. Our semi-collapsing jetty, just a simple thing constructed from some ex-railway timbers, was ON FIRE.
I called to husband in the garage and briefly enjoyed his look of utter incomprehension before grabbing a big cooking pot and bolting down to the water. A few good soakings, quite a few I might add, and it was out. The day saved and the integrity of the poor deck even more compromised than before.
'Where there's smoke there's fire' is a phrase often used to explain a situation, to lend credibility to a suspicion or prove it not to be unfounded. In this case there was a fire, for a long time with no smoke, and any suspicions we may have as to its source are pure speculation.
Wind-borne cigarette butt? Careless passing smoking canoeist? And the more likely, but still weird, theory that a bit of glass, embedded in the wood, baked in the sun and sparked a flame?
Weird. Weird. Weird. And thank goodness we were home.