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Posts Tagged ‘African’

Some things will never change…….

The challenge came forth from way down south where the sun beats warmly on the African earth. Oh the memory of that warmth and clear sky, just the medicine to escape from the reality of our Canadian winter!  

We had been house bound for a few days and had clocked up a 25 centimetre drop of snow all in one day! The wind chill bit into the bones as we shoveled and cleared the driveway. It was a never ending job! We had hit the comfort foods and braved the streets to alleviate the cabin fever. Then ‘the dare’ came in and the spirits lifted. It was just too enticing a challenge to ignore and besides it would distract us from an otherwise dreary cold day.

 

The ramp takes shape....

The ramp takes shape….

But don’t you believe it……

The plan was put in motion. What equipment would be needed? It was obviously going to be a snow setting so all the ski paraphernalia was needed. Then the scene had to be set and this involved the building of a ramp. Some jumping technique would add a bit of flair to the short prescribed video footage. Thank goodness for the house full of engineers and our software ace. It was a case of all hands on deck. The snow shovels and extra garden ones were rounded up and the heaps of snow were reorganized into our very own Winter Olympic ramp. Sochi here we come! Bear in mind that at the bottom of the back garden there was an icy stream and a forest of mature elm trees that had to be avoided at all costs.

Think about it before you break the rules…..

We were finally set up, cameras were poised and the ramp glistened against the backdrop of trees. It was now close to minus 20 C and the breeze had picked up.  We proceeded to the top of the hill. Let’s do this! The thick ski jacket was pulled off to reveal the requirements for the challenge……a bathing costume!  Note this was not a baggy pair of bathing shorts but a speedo! I giggled uncontrollably and was banished to the side of the garden where I would not distract. I was reminded that this was a serious matter. I duly removed myself to a safer vantage point where I could safely chuckle into my coat. The skis were clicked into place, the ski poles dug in and a few warm up stretches were performed. Count down…..3…2….1 ….and my son was off. He slid down the track and flew up into the air over the ramp, twisted and landed perfectly. We all let out a whoop and I ululated from my banished position. He did it! He met the challenge!

 

Lights, camera, action.....

Lights, camera, action…..

It’s just the way it is……

The cold does strange things to you when you are cooped up for so long. It is similar to being stuck out in the bush for long periods of time. In South Africa it is known as being bosbev…k. So we survive the cold version of this malady by amusing ourselves with ‘many firsts.’  I am grateful that ‘the challenge’ took place in our back garden.  I am sure some of our neighbours might have called in the paramedics and had us rushed off to ‘groen dakkies’ if they had noticed our antics!

Groen dakkies: the asylum in Cape Town

bosbev…k:  bush mad.

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The soft flakes waft over us as we pull our fur hoods closer to keep out the chill. I turn my face towards the soft caress of Mother Nature…I love the feeling of falling snow especially when you are dressed in snug attire. 


Baby it's cold out there!

Baby it’s cold out there!

The front doors are the first to beckon us in with their inventive displays. Vintage wooden skis, bright red mitts and ice skates are expertly placed with gleaming ornaments. They serve to wet our creative appetites as we brave the elements in the queues outside. We are out in the cold weather and are visiting the open Christmas houses for charity with a group of kindred spirits.

Eventually the wooden door creaks open and the magical world of Christmas is there to greet us. The wait was worth it! As I step inside, the inner child is evoked and I stand in awe for a few moments…….

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The aroma of fresh cedar wreaths and pine tree swags fills my breath. I slip off my boots and notice the crackling fire. Oh to just sit a while next to the warmth! Cozy throws have been strategically placed to lure one closer. All too soon the spectacle of the gleaming Christmas tree, all adorned in white and silver, distracts me. The lights twinkle and reflect the beauty and magnificence of a ‘real tree.’ Each ornament especially chosen reflects the owner’s personality and their nostalgia of bygone Christmases. I waft through as if in a trance…..arrays of delicious colourful cookies tempt me and the aromas of cinnamon and cloves warm the cockles of my heart. The gleaming ornaments shine, lights sparkle and wreaths dangle from tartan ribbons. Christmas is here to enchant us!

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The day sped by and we eventually peaked into 6 of the 10 houses. I could not wait to get home to apply some of the effects that had been so artistically created. 

That evening, as I gently wove my garland around the staircase, I could not help but reflect on our wonderful African Christmases that our group had once had back in South Africa. One thing is for sure if the spirit of Christmas is there, it does not matter where you celebrate! A wonderful Christmas to all of my family and friends wherever you might be…..

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The express envelope is tightly sealed. The 3 passports and the awful photographs have been slipped in along with all the relevant documentation. More and more documents……. Will this ever end? It’s amazing how the lack of a smile just gives one the appearance of having the world on your shoulders! But apparently a smile is not what officialdom needs in cases like this! So the somber Morkel clan is all duly represented. Our serious faces are soon to appear on our ‘ticket to freedom,’ the Canadian permanent residence card. We are told by all the fellow permanent residence seekers that this is the final stage. Yippee! It has been 2 years and 6 months since we sent in our first application……note that one counts the months when something is this important. 

 

I have to add that it is not that I am hell bent on leaving my African roots behind me. Oh no, that could never be the case. It is more about having a sense of belonging and stability here in Canada. The African spirit still runs through our veins and we have strong ties with family and friends. Although I still allow myself to miss South Africa even though Canada in now my new home. However, doubt set in the other day when I read an article in our local paper. I quote…..

“Essential Canadianness is dependent on the slice of time that is spent here.”

I read this headline and am forced to ponder the inevitable. Does my 3 years here in Canada count? Has all the trying to do and experience all things that are Canadian not matter? I bare the scars……. a broken wrist whilst skiing. My inquisitive nature drives me to explore further.

 “It is not just the number of years spent in Canada that serves to imprint this country on one’s soul, but also the question of which years. A person’s character typically is formed in his or her youth. By the time middle age comes around, it’s usually too late.”

Oh well, that rules me out then! Or does it? I cannot imagine that it is the same for everyone. I think it depends on just how receptive you are to change. My metal has been tested continuously over the last while. Just when I think that I am getting this whole Canadian living waxed, something happens and I realize that I am definitely still quite ‘fresh off the boat.’ Like the time I found myself careering along on the wrong side of the road! But in true African spirit I will not let this deter me from my goal and certain familiar words ring in my ears….’aanhouer wen’ and ‘agteros kom ook in die kraal.’

We live and learn......

We live and learn……

 

* The article I refer to was written by Jonathan Kay in the National Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It crept stealthily around the great elm tree at the bottom of the garden.  It stopped and its graceful form was silhouetted against the undergrowth. Slowly it moved closer and one leg hovered. It hesitated while it kept an eye out for any impending danger. Satisfied, the great blue heron trusted its surroundings enough to stay a while. It began to scout the blades of grass. This beautiful bird was so reminiscent of its familiar African cousins.  It had a different demeanour and was prepared to risk a closer look. It edged forward as it grabbed the sought after delectable grub.

 

Our graceful visitor

Our graceful visitor

 

There is something inside of me that just sings out loud when I venture into my garden. The inner child just wants to rush out! My garden is full of surprises and still taps into my sense of wonder. The joy of a spring bulb, the revival of an iced shrub and the scurrying visitors all keep me intrigued. It is a place where I can go to and remember who I am. It does not matter what country I live in. The joy and contentment it provides, remains the same.

 

The bastions lure you to explore further....

The bastions lure you to explore further….

 

 There are times in life when you have to dig deep, real deep to find that peace and contentment. Some find it in their chosen career path, others in the things they possess and some simply need to face a challenge. We focus on survival in our concrete jungles but in our gardens we can stop for respite. So I am fortunate that my garden provides that for me! There is something so honest and straight forward about tending a garden. As I wallow about with my plants, it puts all things that I ponder into perspective. It reminds me that there are no short cuts in life. As I begin to cut back the vigorous summer growth, I am also reminded that there is a time for everything in a garden. Each season brings hope and promise.

Some wise man once said: There is no paradise on this earth; it is up to us to create it. I just did!

 

Summer 2012 018

 

 

 

 

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