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Archive for May, 2013

The familiar images flash past and I take in the different scenes. I recognize many of the places and floods of memories rush in. I allow myself to linger with these thoughts and a tear rolls down my cheek. The rich music soothes me with the smooth rhythms and rich tones. I do miss South Africa and all that goes along with it!

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

I suppose my sentiments have been jogged as I stare at the book cover ‘Scatterlings- A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales by Eve Cummings. A few of my blogs will be included in her book and I realize that I now fall under the heading: Expat!

I must add that I am honoured to be tucked in somewhere in between. There are some prominent South Africans whose writings have been included such as Helene Zille, Clem Sunter and Max du Preez.  So I really don’t mind being included along with that lot!

But I suppose we also have our story to tell. It is the one of how you ‘start again’ in a new country. I have always been grateful that we did not feel pushed to leave South Africa. We were fortunate that we did not have deeper reasons for leaving; it was merely a work opportunity that could not be refused. That being said, it still does not make the whole process any easier. There have been days when I have been so apprehensive. The older brain just struggles to adapt to ‘the newness of all things.’ Fortunately we come from good ‘pioneering stock’ and we face the challenges head on and try not to play ‘the when we’ game. Not too often, that is!

One of my favourite views...the Lonehill Koppie.

One of my favourite views…the Lonehill Koppie.

But today I am just going to allow myself to miss the country and the people we left behind. I glance at the photos again….. It is truly beautiful! I think of the wine lands and scenic Cape Town where I grew up as a child. Then there were all the places that I spent my adult years……… The Karoo got me to ‘put on my big girl panties’ when I first arrived there as a young bride. I could not cook a thing and ‘pannekoekbak’ was a prerequisite of a young country housewife. So the learning curve was initiated! Initially I had perceived the Karoo to be barren but soon grew to love the stillness and the generosity of spirit of the local farmers. Mpumalanga was the complete opposite as it was lush and green and had the added benefit of the proximity to the surrounding game parks. We spent many happy hours in the bush there. The next stop was Johannesburg. I feared I would never settle in this metropolis, but I did. At first I felt like a little Barbarton daisy trying to survive in the middle of Adderley Street. It soon enveloped me with its charm and the warmth of its people.

The Karoo mountains

The Karoo mountains

Then there were the holiday destinations like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How can I possibly sum up the tranquility and beauty in a few words? Camping in the bush, fishing trips, tracking the African Big Five or just lying on a remote beach in the sun…..these memories are all safely filed away.

 

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

 

 

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You walk a lonely road; oh so far you are from home…….

 

The bustle of the airport was overpowering and I felt the nausea rise in my throat. My swollen arm ached and I cursed myself for my stupidity at my uncoordinated crash from the ski lift. These journeys back to South Africa are long and lonely. Mixed feelings and longings fill my head as I try to rise above my pounding head and sore body.

“Hello, I heard you speak, you must be South African!” A bright cheerful face looked down on me. Those kind words quickly washed away my self pity and wallowing. We chatted and connected with the similar threads that had been part of our lives. My new friend was further down the road of the ‘Trans- Atlantic Living’ and I valued the tips and similar experiences that we shared. Too soon it was time to board and the conversations would have to continue once we were back in Canada.

The view from Loonshadow.

Morning coffee on the deck at  Loonshadow

 

May it be that you journey on to light the day…..

 

Many months later we joined the weekend exodus of Canadians up to Cottage Country. We were to reconnect with our fellow South Africans. The spring colours burst forth as we travelled up east deep into the Kawartha Highlands. The name ‘Kawartha’ means “the Land of Reflections.’ The name did not disappoint as we indulged our eyes on the ice- melt rivers and the glistening dark waters.  You do know that there is more lake area in Canada than any other country in the world! I digested that thought while the road meandered on through the hills and dark forests. We had been on the road for almost 3 hours and a cup of coffee and a rusk would certainly would have gone down well! The car rounded one last corner and in the clearing, a cottage nestled amongst the trees. We were finally at “Loonshadow.’

 

A walk in the forest

A walk in the forest

Believe and you will find your way……..

 

The front door opened and our South African hosts were there to greet us. There was that same hospitality that I had experienced at Amsterdam Airport. The weekend had begun….

The men tried their hand at fishing but they could only tell us about ‘the one that got away.’ Besides, who needs fish when you have loads of steak and boerewors! The women ambled through the dense forest, while the boys ventured out on the quad bike. There was much to talk about and we covered a range of topics, like only women can. Everything from ‘what hair product works best in Canada’ to ‘the best places to shop.’ What can I say? I am sure that the men’s conversation was a far cry from this, especially being that their favourite rugby team had just been defeated! The sounds of our voices were like a whisper as the forest floor echoed under our feet. It was time to see to the evening meal.

 

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire.....

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire…..

May it be an evening star shines down upon you…..

 

A roaring fire was made and we gathered round as the light disappeared from the mirrored lake. The sad howl of the loon duck faded and the shrill call of the osprey broke the silence of the night. It was perfect and even the bite of the black flies could not spoil it for us. There is always a bit of pain with the pleasure…….

 

 

 

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I expect all the bells and whistles on Sunday! After all it is Mothers’ Day! I would like to start off with my tea in bed and a whole grain rusk. I like the ones from Ouma with cranberries inside. So that’s a huge call being that we are on the other side of the world! Thank goodness for the South African shop nearby. I have stocked up so all they will have to do, is have a dig in the capacious cupboard. Then a gloriously full bath will go down well if it is run with heaps of bubble bath.  As long as my day starts like this, I will be happy just to spend some time with my boys. On second thoughts…..a little back rub and a list of ‘I promise to do the following’…. that would also go down well!

As I am the MOTHER in this household of men, I give myself permission to celebrate and marvel at my 3 sons. Thank goodness they are all so different, as this gives me the opportunity to enjoy their varied interests. These differences have also proven to be rather challenging at times. I refer to the handling of the ‘teenager stage.’ Just when you think that you have this whole stage waxed, you have to rethink your strategy.  It kept me on my toes! What am I saying? It still does! As David, my youngest, is still there.

David

David

 So David keeps me young. Well hopefully, or else I will crumple up in a heap from exhaustion. As I charge from one rugby match to the next, I lap up the fact that I am still part of the ‘rugby moms.’ The fact that I am nearing the big six, this is quite a feat!

David has a peaceful soul and is happy with his own company. I marvel at how easily he has made the transition into this new country of ours. I can’t imagine how daunting it must have been to have walked into the High School of over a thousand kids. He did not know a soul! That takes guts! He is a strong lad too and is my right hand man in the garden. He has dug many a deep hole for the copious plants that arrive each week in the summer. But with all this strength, there is also a gentle side. It becomes apparent when Dave cares for his animals.

Bryan

Bryan

Bryan is the passionate one. What can I say? ‘Die appeltjie het nie ver van die boompie geval nie.’ He attacks whatever he does with fervor. He involves me by discussing his day at a busy pharmaceutical plant. Bryan has a good eye for design and often helps me with projects around the house. This artistic streak is also noted in his photography. He has documented in photographs much of our new life here in Canada. He is our ‘outdoor kid’ and drags us out over weekends to try all sorts of new Canadian activities. This enthusiasm is infectious, although it does get us into trouble at times. A broken wrist or just a case of sunburn and sore muscles is often the result of our escapades into the unknown. I admire the way Bryan has kept up this enthusiasm even through the winter when our spirits were low.

John

John

John is my eldest son and my old soul too. He has an innate wisdom as if he has lived for a very long time. He knows a lot about everything and I can talk to him for hours. John enjoys his work as a software engineer and I marvel at his commitment. His hours are long and he is often called upon in the middle of the night. This is because the US is just waking up when the day in South Africa is drawing to a close. His American counterparts were obviously not strong contenders for the geography prize at school!

Where is South Africa? We share a love for music and I enjoy watching him sing. He comes alive when he plays the guitar. I miss him now that we are so far away. I am grateful for the regular contact that we have and the for the man who invented Skype. Actually I am sure it must have been a woman…….what man would invent software that enabled you to TALK to someone on the other side of the world!

John and Kristen

John and Kristen

 I need to add someone else to my ‘celebration list.’ I am grateful for the lady who calls me mom. Kristen is my daughter in law. She has balanced out our family and has improved the plight of the only woman in the house. Ha! Ha! Kristen is a creative whiz kid and has developed an online textile design business. She produces the most amazing designs and has recently appeared in many of the South African magazines. Some of her designs have made their way over the seas to Canada too. When I need to touch base with my roots, I only have to look over at my Nguni or protea cushions that she made. I enjoy her creativity and her work ethic. Kristen has included me in their lives as a couple and I am eternally grateful for that.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself with my thoughts on my children. I feel content and proud today. Although I know that they all have their foibles too, they are my children and therefore my legacy. I rejoice in that!

The Morkel mom

The Morkel mom

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My doors are standing wide open and the fresh spring air wafts in.  It is perfumed by the abundance of the spring bulbs that have opened over the last few days. Josh and I run onto the deck at each opportunity. He spotted some rabbits this morning near the stream at the bottom of the garden. It drove him crazy! Poor chap, he would love to sink his teeth into them. He stands and quivers in anticipation, as he peers through the railings. But not on my watch, he won’t!  Meanwhile Peter and his mates bob about unhindered and enthusiastically sample all the new shoots. As long as they restrict their endeavors to the wild plants and don’t develop an interest in the nursery bought ones. We should be safe as the forest holds all sorts of delectables to lure them away. Wild snow drops seem to be the firm favourite and distract the nibblers from my ‘planted bounty.’

The sun is warm……I had almost forgotten what that feels like. Josh lies tummy-up and ‘bene in die lug.’ He is broken out of his soporific state  with the rabbit exploits. After he has reclaimed his turf he returns to the horizontal position again. We both love it! I bask as well but not in the ‘bene in die lug’ position. I prefer my feet up onto the deck railings. If I position myself to one side I can I stare over at the emerging foliage down in our ‘little forest.’

 

Josh laps up the Canadian sun.

Josh laps up the Canadian sun!

 

All this beauty comes at a price though, as I found out when I began the ‘spring cleanup.’ Every muscle and bone in my body ached! The cold winter had left its traces behind and we raked, collected and piled. Oh I so missed the help that I had back in South Africa! It was back breaking! Bend, stretch and bend again! Eina! Fortunately the whole family climbed on board and in no time the drudgery of the clean up was over. Now I am left to survey our wonderwork from the deck. I luxuriate in my short reprieve. This is my favourite part! At least the muscles and bones are given a break for a few weeks. Locals insist that no planting can happen before the weekend of 24 May. So I have to accept the local knowledge and restrain myself. All I want to do is get out there and plant my summer colour.

 

IMAG0838_1_1

 

But instead I sit and stare and enjoy the arrival of spring. I fill my head with thoughts of summer……. salads, cool drinks, sandals and open top cars. The warmth draws visits from family and friends too.

Oh role on SUMMER!

 

Sun in the face and wind in the hair!

Sun in the face and wind in the hair!

 

 

 

 

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