Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘garden’

 

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Music stirs my soul and I have such fun finding just the right piece for my blog. Sometimes it is the lyrics that resonate but other times it is just the voices that make it pertinent. The rich sounds waft through my house as I listen and enjoy. This recording is no exception as these voices really do justice to Queen’s famous rendition. They just add to the Hygge in my house on this beautiful sunny day in Vancouver.

I recently came across the term Hygge. It fascinated me as it is something that I have always practiced without giving it much thought. This also explained my endless preoccupation over the last year with getting my house cosy and inviting. It is a difficult concept to translate as it vague and has many interpretations but here goes….. It is from a Norwegian word meaning ‘well being.’ The Danes, who are regarded as the happiest country in the world, practice this concept in their homes and in the way they live. If I was to give you a practical example you could imagine this…..I am sitting in front of a roaring fire on a cold Canadian winter’s night with a glass of red wine in my hand and my dog curled up at my feet. That is Hygge! Another could be sitting in a steaming hot tub on a cold January evening with the snow lining the trees and an equally satisfying beverage in my hand. This is Hygge!

You could be curled up under your duvet in your apartment, watching your favourite television programme while you chomp away at a decadent box of chocolates. It could be as simple as lighting a candle just to create the right atmosphere. Or having friends over for a relaxed potluck. These are all Hygge!

My garden, a cup of morning coffee and Josh…..my idea of Hygge.

It is about being kind to yourself, indulging in simple pleasures and not denying or punishing oneself because of it. I like the sound of that. What is life all about if we can’t have a little bit of what you fancy?

But it has wider applications too and not just confined to the comforts of home. Certain aspects have been introduced into the workplace to reduce stress levels. I noticed on a recent visit to the Amazon headquarters in Seattle that principles of the idea were being implemented. Amazon staff were encouraged to bring their dogs to work. Special areas were created to accommodate their needs. There was an outdoor play area where they could socialise with their canine brothers and do the necessary ablutions. These dogs have added another ‘Hygge’ dimension to an otherwise stressful day in the life of a software engineer. It makes you think……

Leo catching the number 9 to work…….

As far as I am concerned, a little piece of Denmark is alive and well at La Ravine …..our home in the forest.

Rhododendrons beckon you to draw closer…..

 

You might like to read the book The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russel

Read Full Post »

 

Being half a world away prevents me from being there for you, my friend.

This is for you.

 

I want to be inside your heaven……

His tall figure walks between the roses and strolls down the path that he created. He stops as he brushes past the new bulbs that he lovingly planted that spring. Nothing misses his keen eye as he checks for growth and colour. A faint smile breaks across his face. Gentle eyes observe the heart shapes that grace the wall in between the creeper and the newly positioned ornaments. He leans in across the pool and swirls his fingers through the water.

“Gail, it is perfect for a swim!”

All my dreams are in your eyes…..

He makes his way back onto the veranda and settles into his favoured chair. A fluffy shadow settles at his feet and a comforting hand reassures with gentle strokes. The pages from the garden catalogue flip and his eyes narrow as he struggles to see in the fading light. He looks up and admires the lush pathway and relaxes, absorbing the tranquillity. Then back to the choice of plants that entice him from the colourful pages. Much thought and deliberation goes into each plant fortunate enough to find itself in this garden.

“What colours do you want this time? Is it pink or white?

The wrong becomes undone…..

Then there was the bit of wild garden that did not pass your test. They were reconsidered and replanted with much deliberation and attention to detail. The aim here was to make it right and to please the eye of the beholder. Heights were considered and the bed was examined from all angles. A friendly visitor might have been drawn into the discussion and all opinions were taken into account.

“Was it to be the lavender or roses that you wanted here?”

I want to be the earth that holds you…..

He hauled in plenty bags of compost. The Highveld soil was enriched with each turn of the spade in this black earth. The plants responded to the attention and rewarded all who would stand a while with a profusion of colour and fragrance.

 “Can I pick one for the table for you?”

A soothing wind…..

The setting sun drew coloured shadows across the pool. Thrush scurried as they made the most of the evening light.  The breeze was cool and there was comfort. He is with you in the garden he created.

The pathway beckons one to stay a while....

The pathway beckons one to stay a while….

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Another year another turkey……

“Which one do you think would be better?”

My question was directed at an experienced looking housewife. She had tossed the birds around, examined their weight and made her decision. I marveled at her expertise and the swiftness of her decision making process. After all she had been doing this for years and I had 3 years under my belt!

“ Should I go with the 7 kilogram one or should I go a bit bigger?” The humble pasty- grey bird peered safely up at me from the supermarket fridge. Much deliberation went on.  A few women had gathered around me now and eagerly offered this newbie advice. More questions were asked and preference for white or brown meat was discussed. This was a serious matter. Eventually the decision was made and it was unanimous.

“So this is the one then.” I heaved the 10 kilogram bird into my shopping cart. My back muscles twinged under the strain. It was one hell-of-a fine bird!  Of course I won’t mention this to the family. There is no need for them to know that I was ably assisted by my experienced new helpers. After all, us girls stick together!

My shopping cart trundled off to the check out. The humble bird’s destiny had been sealed.  It was bound for the  Morkel’s Thanksgiving table.

 

 

Cheers!

Cheers!

It is our third Thanksgiving here in Canada and it is probably one of the best times of the year. People scurry around and prepare for winter. Gardens are cleaned up and anything that could be ravaged by the extreme temperatures is packed away. The leaves have begun to add colour to our walks around Oakville. Roads and paths are covered with ‘the drop’ and we notice and appreciate the hues of orange, yellow and the red. We savour the swansong of summer in the form of Fall and recognize that the burst of colour will have to tide us through till Spring next year!

Josh is sue that a skunk lurks nearby....

Josh is sure that a skunk lurks nearby….

But for now we celebrate the bounty of the harvest and all that it brings with it. One such event is Thanksgiving where a feast is held. Each family prepares a sumptuous meal to enjoy with family and friends. Around our table this year will be our adopted Canadian family.( I must add that they have not had much say in the matter….they are family whether they like it or not! ) I am thankful to them for all the support that they have offered us in this our new country. Distance dictates that a few people will be missing from our table. Our family from the US and our beautiful brand new grand children will be with us in spirit.

God only knows what I would be without you……

Happy Thanksgiving!

IMAG2676_1_1

 

 

 IMAG2679_1_1

 

Read Full Post »

Josh has his own walkway!

Josh has his own walkway!

Get out as much as possible! Ha! Ha!

Get out as much as possible! Ha! Ha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All that I am, all that I ever was……..

It has been a grey week where the sun has not showed its face from behind the clouds at all! I begin to understand the meaning of ‘winter in Canada’ as we fight to stay warm. We heed the advice of ‘getting outside as much as we can.’  Even then we go for days with this grey hue all around us. Then you just need to add some rain to the mix! To be cold is one thing, but to be wet and cold is a whole new ball game! I comfort myself indoors with my emails from friends and family back in South Africa as they recount their sun- filled picnics and barbeques. Oh happy days! My stash of ‘Ouma rusks’ are a constant source of pleasure as I am confined indoors.

Just know that these things will not change for us at all……

So one gets on with the process of acceptance of how things are. It is cold……..dam cold! The ingenuity kicks in and we develop coping strategies. Fortunately for us, our concerned Canadian neighbours have taken us under their wing. They fill us in with many tips for surviving a cold winter. They range from the right boots to wear on black ice to safety tips for ‘blonde drivers’ in white -out conditions. I dread the day when I have to put these into practice! But for the most part, we have thought up some of our own too. A domestic pet is quite a challenge, as you have to cope with their ablutions when they are cooped up all day. If you have a pup you can teach them to ring a bell that hangs at the front door. They knock it with their snout and then you respond accordingly. Unfortunately we tried that with our Josh but as the saying goes…..you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! So we had to think of other ways to meet his daily needs. The problem was that this fussy little canine preferred to relieve himself on grass. Oh my hat! I ask you? Where do you find a patch of grass when there is a foot of snow outside? The snow shovel came out and we cleared him a little patch near the side of the house. He is now happy to oblige on his spot of Canada Green.

If I lay here, would you lie with me and forget the world?

Depression is the real scary part of winter. The television and radio carry adverts and hints on how to cope with this dreary time. We have much to keep us entertained indoors from interesting reads, challenging puzzles and home theatre. Josh, our Jack Russell, is not partial to the confinement of winter.  He jumps deep into his basket and rearranges his blanket over his head. This is his fleeting form of hibernation. I must add that this state of being is quickly interrupted with the ring of the doorbell. We have had to think of ways to ‘entertain’ him. (I never thought that my day would consist of dreaming of ways to improve my dog’s psychological wellbeing!)We now dig a pathway through the snow on the deck so that he can still see his nemesis, our resident squirrel. His relentless occupation of getting his teeth into Mr. Squirrel keeps him entertained and his spirits up.

Show me a garden that is bursting into life…….

So I page through my gardening manuals and read up on plants that can withstand these freezing temperatures. I dream up ideas and designs for my garden here in Canada. We planted a whole heap of spring bulbs. They are resting under the snow in my front garden. Soon they will be triggered into a burst of new life. I will see their bright colours in the sun!

Venturing out with friends...a trip to the city.

Venturing out with friends…a trip to the city.

Read Full Post »

 

The garbage truck trundled around the corner.  The tell tale piles were perched outside every door on the curb. The trays of recyclables, bags of garden refuse and kitchen waste have all been sorted. It is 6.30am and bleary- eyed bundled figures have deposited their piles. None of us even give each other a sideward glance. The whole process is just too painful! We just want to rush back indoors to the warmth and the smell of coffee. Josh watches me from a window perched up on a chair. He is eager to get out there for his morning stroll and is undeterred by the freezing weather!

Garbage Day!

And so another day begins with the mundane and the chores that need to be done. I conquered a pile of laundry yesterday and felt the sweet taste of success as I packed away the 20 freshly ironed shirts. Oh how simple life’s pleasures sometimes are! Today the cupboards need to be filled. Vegetarian pasta just does not make the grade in this household of men! It is all about ‘carbo loading’ and plenty of muscle building protein. A big juicy steak and piles of chips makes their eyes twinkle! I try to keep this in mind as I am drawn to the whole wheat breads and what they term as ‘rabbit foods.’

Administration is another facet of this ‘stay at home’ wife. Today it is to be another ‘form filling in’ day. Two of our visas need to be renewed. We have to travel down to the US and re-enter Canada in order to do this. I will be wading through paperwork and trying to make sense of it all. Special travel documents need to be completed too. I search the websites and make sure so that we comply with the US requirements.  All I need is for us to be stranded on the other side!

But please don’t think that life in the suburbs is all about drudgery and mundane. There are the highlights too……walking out in the woods and wading through the streams, meeting a friend for a chat and a coffee in a cosy restaurant and watching all the Christmas preparations down town. The shops have put out all their decorative pots all glistening in white and silver to beckon us in. The bare winter trees have been given new life with the twinkling lights that run along their bark. The starkness of winter has a bright side too!

 Christmas time just seems to bring out the joie de vivre in people. We experienced a taste of this last weekend when we attended a Ball in the city. The evening started with a ride in a shiny white limousine. I felt like a princess….albeit an old one! Our hosts were warm and welcoming and we chatted over our sundowners as we chased along the highway into town. It was a glorious evening with good music, elegant food and interesting conversation.

I am constantly reminded of the pleasure with a bit of the pain…….

A night on the town……

 

 

 You can also visit  the site: 

http://www.expatwomen.com/

Read Full Post »

http://www.myspace.com/xseptemberleavesx/music/songs/maple-tree-73735223

 

You can always count on me and I will plant you a maple tree…….

We planted a maple tree today in honour of Canada Day…… all 4 metres of it. It is thin and scrawny but the bright green leaves indicate that it is a healthy specimen. It stood in our ravine at the bottom of our garden and was cosseted by the many elms and grander maples that surrounded it. But in this position, it fought for light and sustenance as the bigger brothers took preference.

I will carry you on my wings……

The birds protested as we gently carved it out with a big ball of soil attached to its roots. I think they thought that some larger disturbance was afoot. It made the journey up to the front garden perched in our wheel barrow. It looked rather ungainly as we trundled up the side rocky pathway and the leaves shook in protest as the gentle wind blew around us. Its new abode awaited it in the front garden.

I will build you a house of stars and give you safety while you sleep…..

It was to be the only shade tree on the front lawn, a bastion to welcome us home at the end of a long day. It had a position of importance with no competition for sustenance. The hole which will nourish it for years to come had been filled with all ‘the good things for trees’ like bone marrow and rich garden soil.

The most beautiful place in my heart belongs to you……

This tree carries hope for us as a family here in our new country. Like this tree, we have been pulled out of the ground and replanted. Thankfully, we have carried with us ‘our soil’ i.e. the customs, memories and traditions. We have carved out a new environment and the food to sustain us comes from the support that we have received. The faithful friends and family back in South Africa who keep in touch and from the Canadians that have shown us kindness.

You can climb up on the peak……….

A maple tree is meant to grow to 18 metres, we have a long journey ahead of us, but it is sure to be an exciting one!

Our young maple tree.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »