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Archive for April, 2012

“Give the girl correct footwear and she can conquer the world.” Bette Middler

If shoes could speak.......

 

They were slipped off at the front door and stacked neatly in a row as this was the custom in Canada. No shoes were allowed in the house!

They sat there like faithful hounds waiting patiently at the door for their owners. There were a few that frequent daily lectures; others sprint off to the Go Train each day and one pair had recently walked the streets of Rome. Some of their owners had their feet firmly planted on the ground, while others drifted about in their search for answers. All were in various stages of ageing, but still managed to go about their business of protecting the human foot with dignity and dedication.

You might have gathered that I have a shoe fetish and made sure that I renewed my stock before I left the South African shores. When you know shoes, you also know exactly what you like and where to find them. So thank goodness for Queen Victoria who invented the lady’s boot, way back in 1840. I was going to need every colour and style I could find for those long Canadian winters. I did not need any encouragement to go out and acquire a few more pairs. This time I had to make sensible buys encompassing the attributes of being durable, waterproof and glamorous. So if I had to trudge around in the freezing cold, why not do it with a bit of style? I did manage to fulfill two of the criteria but the melting snow managed to leak through and soak my already cold feet. So much for the glamour part! But in true form I went into the `boer maak `n plan’ mode and a can of waterproof sealing spray did the trick. We were back in business.

The shoes at the front door were being gathered up by their owners as they ventured out into the cold night. It had been a wonderful party. The warm South African spirit of our hosts prevailed as we mingled and were treated with fine food and music. It was time to slide our feet back into our shoes and make our way home.

 This girl has her correct footwear and is ready to conquer the world!

 

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I am a ‘lady of leisure’ propped up against my plumped up cushions and with a cup of English Breakfast tea at my side. What can I say? I am a lazy little cow! Well, this is how I feel. I am forced to ‘take it easy’ as I recently had a bit of surgery all in the quest to maintain health and to keep mobile. The anesthetic has hit me for a six and I have spent most of the weekend trying to unscramble my dreams. They range from weekends spent on the farm in the Karoo and Lowveld to shopping trips to the Fourways Mall. One’s brain is such an interesting piece of machinery and it is fascinating what thoughts are unearthed when it is forced into submission for a while. All these amazing memories are stacked away just waiting to be drawn upon and savoured once more.The Lonehill Koppie

So I have the luxury today of just recalling some of those special moments spent in Africa. The pictures are vivid in my memory…… green wine lands and those majestic Stellenbosch Mountains, the grey ‘ganna bossies’ of the Karoo in the evening light and the lush forests of Toehill Farm. The memories of my dear Lonehill Koppie are crisp. I recall my last climb of its colossal boulders and the breath taking view from the top as if it were yesterday. The wonderful thing is, that as time goes by, I can relive these moments without feeling too sad.

A rare moment with lion cubs.

I get these gentle reminders of how the Universe is connected, no matter where we live on this planet. That fact alone is comforting when one is so far away. On Saturday a local robin discovered the bird bath that we had placed in the back garden under the trees.  It was one of the things that arrived in one piece after it had made its journey across the sea in the container. Many of the earthenware pots had not taken the wave motion quite as well! Our robin splashed about and washed off all his winter grit. His red breast glistened against the backdrop of the spring blossoms. I was reminded of his cousin back in Africa, the Olive Thrush; he had followed the same rituals during those long hot summers.

We had a taste of a warm summer evening last night and walked down to the lake. The evenings are light till late into the night so we get to enjoy them. The men in my house practiced their long forgotten cricket throws, as they skimmed smooth pebbles across the water. I perched on a nearby bench and watched a front approach across the lake. The ducks and swans were feeding and some got in the last bit of their socializing before the light failed. Small groups of summer bugs were out discovering the delights of the yellow dandelions and the blue forget- me- nots.  
It was time to go and get back on the bed with my feet up. I am going to indulge myself with more memories, as soon I will be up and hopefully  ‘dancing on the ceiling’ once more.

On Toehill Farm

 

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There were rabbits on our lawn today!  They scurried around the daffodils taking in all the new spring growth. Josh watched from his perch in the lounge bay window and his jaw quivered. The garden beckons me and appears soft and inviting in the morning light.

The signs of spring

 

Can you believe we have carted in 3 tons of topsoil over the last few days? My muscles complain as I think about this last Easter weekend. Please, no more dirt! We have raked, spread and lifted. I stretch out my stiff legs and notice my newly varnished pink pedicure gleaming from my sandals. It is hardly warm enough to skip about in this foot attire, but the thought of summer footwear is just too enticing to resist. Gone are the snow boots, walking boots and the warm granny ones too. It is time to pull out all that is light and strappey! The garden boots still get the green light and have a honoured position in the entrance hall.

The front doors are once more adorned with spring flowers, floating ribbons and Easter eggs. Window boxes and front door pots have been titivated with new summer colour. A new design for our front garden is being implemented and the men in the house have transplanted the misplaced shrubs. This is back- breaking work and I thank God that I have 3 gorgeous healthy men who encourage my gardening exploits. My terracotta pots, which were brought over in the container, form part of my African corner. They had to spend the winter in the basement but will soon be brimming over with summer annuals.  The well traveled ‘maalklip’ mirrors the reflection of our resident robin. He busily collects up all the earthworms that have popped up to the new fertile surface.
There is a sense of urgency as everyone gets their gardens ready for the short Canadian summer. It is still too cold for the young plants so we play the waiting game. A few indoor seeds for the veggie patch will have to suffice. This gives us a bit more time to relax and enjoy the leftover chocolate and hot cross buns.

Relocating shrubs......we know how they feel!

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(This song was written by George while he was sitting in Eric Clapton’s garden after a very long English winter)

Cheers to spring!

 “Little darling, the smiles are returning to the Canadian faces. Here comes the sun. It feels like years since it has been here. Sun…sun here it comes…..”

Cottage Country is being opened up so that ‘gone fishing’ can become a weekend activity once more. Sport cars are relieved of their grey winter covers and skylights are slid open. Bikini’s are pulled from the back of cupboards and summer outfit shopping is in full force. The black and drab- grey garb of winter is pushed to one side. Pinks, yellows and even a touch of orange will soon be the prominent colours on the streets and the nautical and ‘preppy boy’ look is all the rage. Oh to just wear my white shorts again!

Spring fever has hit our street. We have all come out of hiding and I see new faces each day. The ‘snowbirds’ have returned from their escape down to Florida and are hurriedly catching up with ‘the opening up’ process. We scurry about and tend our gardens. We rake, trim, bundle and feed our urban sanctuaries. Local knowledge is shared over the garden fence and the best compost, topsoil and fertilizer is discussed. Garden catalogues are poured over with the brightly coloured flower selections. It is to be our first spring garden in the northern hemisphere and the lack of knowledge of the local flora and fauna is quite a challenge. Local gardening magazines are a great help as I scour the pages for plants that will survive zone 5 type weather.

I assure myself that the characteristics that are required for plants to survive in the African sun or the harsh Canadian winter are similar. They both require the resilience to survive in harsh weather conditions. Although the plants in Africa have to contend with prolonged heat and not enough water, while the Canadian ones have all the water in the world and very few months of continuous sun!
Water, water……everywhere….. and I remind myself that I don’t have to run a tiny bath anymore!

Inside the house the spring cleaning process is in full swing. I am slowly learning the intricacies of keeping house in the northern hemisphere.  Here house mites need to be kept at bay. All mattresses need to be vacuumed regularly.  I smile to myself as I reflect on how the pattern of my day has changed. I used to fill my head with ideas on how to challenge my pupils and now I ponder the life cycle of a house mite in a Canadian household. Both challenges….just different fields!

The beers are on ice and I have a few good bottles of merlot in the store to savour on the deck on those long summer evenings.

“We made it! It has been a long and lonely, cold winter. And I say…..It’s all right.”

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