Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
We are a funny bunch.
It's so hard for us to welcome change and find new ways to grow. Mostly I see people stuck fast, living out a script that no longer serves them. Every now and then their world gets shook up like a storm in a snow globe.
Everything seems blurry for a while but when the dust settles it all looks just the same. Life goes on as it always has; more of the same, the usual, over and over again.
Take a chance today.
There are other roads that will you lead you home.
Just waiting for a balmy winter's day so we can have a picnic. Jugs of iced tea, full of mint and sliced lemons from the garden. Grilled terriyakyi salmon and a Bill Granger pasta. Big fat strawberries, vanilla ice cream from Woolies and hot apple betty!
Then Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I will spread out on the lawn with the children, and talk as we are want to do about the meaning of life, and everything in between...
In fact, this one came a little too close for comfort!
Then we drove past fields of citrus trees, their bright orange pompoms of colour waving like cheerleaders from the road side on our way to Samara. Ah, and then the Big Karoo. Nothing prepares you for its strange beauty. An endless canvas of veld surrounded by mountain ranges that meet the empty sky. We drove for hours without seeing another car. Save for the woolly sheep that pepper the dry land, it was me and my Sid and the open road. Just the way we like it!
Samara is a 28 000 hectare reserve made up of eleven Karoo sheep farms saved from the complete devastation of erosion, by Mark and Sarah Tompkins. Allowing it to lie fallow for eight years, they slowly introduced game indigenous to the area. The earth began to recover and come to life again. There are still areas fenced off, that bare the pockmarked scars of over grazing. Elsewhere it is as if the land has found its breath. Stretched out like a roughly knitted blanket it quietly rests. It has become an extraordinary conservancy in which threatened species like Cheetah can flourish, without the danger posed by other predators. Amidst this silent beauty, the Tompkins have restored the old farmhouses and created beautiful spaces in which to share in the wonder.
Mr Nielson better known as Sid, and I were entranced by it all. We fondly parented our young game ranger Michael Jones, who made each drive an open air school in which to learn about the wild spaces that are so threatened by man, and his encroachments into the wild.
The land was treated with a rare integrity and reverence. Michael pointed out the sweet miracles that might be crushed beneath an errant foot and the fragile insect life and wild flora finding new life, that are so easily destroyed by an SUV hellbent on getting 'closer to the action'.
To see the night sky without the aura of city lights, is to feel your own miraculous presence in so vast a galaxy. Sid brought along his guitar. ( Our son Steele is teaching Sid how to play it, with considerable patience. ) In the evenings we would sit on the stoep while my husband serenaded me with his simple strumming. The Darling!
We ate sublime cuisine and met the loveliest people and gave thanks, again and again and again... Before heading for the open road once more...
Just imagine sitting in this lovely room decorated by John Jacobs interiors for Samara. Sublime.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
You're mad that I can't love the ocean
but I've come to this world landlocked
and some bodies feel permanently strange.
Like any foreign language, study it too late and
it never sticks. Anyway,
we're here aren't we? -
trudging up the sand, the water churning
its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy
breathing made more unnerving by
the presence of all these families, the toddlers
with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
circus coloured gear.
How can anyone relax near something so worked up all the time?
I know the ocean is glamorous,
but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels
impossible to resist. And what better reason to
resist? I'm most comfortable in
a field, a yellow eared patch
of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
the underrated value of discretion.
And above this, I admire a certain quality of
sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
an air of distance, that is, lightly with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean
there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,
I can hear what's coming between the stalks.
Words are powerful things.
They are the building blocks of the co-created world in which we live.
Our sages tell us that G-d created the world with ten utterances.
In this way we are encouraged to recognise, Abra Ke dibrah ( Abbra Cadabbra!) As I speak so I create.
In Judaism there is the concept of 'evil talk' Loshan Horah and there are numerous orthodox texts which closely examine its crucial implications for our lives.
The continued transgressions of a slanderous tongue may lead ultimately to exclusion from the world to come, Olam Habah, emphasizing the care with which we should attend to our daily speech.
There is the old allegory of the congregant who approached her rabbi in order to heal her guilty heart. Having confessed to a loose tongue which had slandered others, the woman asked for guidance.
The rabbi suggested that she fill a bag with feathers and leave one on the doorstep of each person she had maligned.The woman duly carried out his instructions and placed a feather at the door of every victim of her 'evil tongue'.She returned to the Rabbi the following day for further instructions. The Rabbi asked that she now return to each doorstep to retrieve the feathers.
The woman soon contacted the Rabbi in a panic, only a few feathers had been found. Most had been carried off by the wind and were long gone.
Such is the path of words. They will find their own way out into the world, gaining the strength to build or destroy as they go. Our words fall like pebbles into still water rippling out beyond our control...
The Amidah ends with this prayer: " Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile, and to such as curse me let my soul be dumb...'
Monday, July 6, 2009
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
By W. S. Merwin