Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mountains’

I got these fresh eyes, never seen you before like this…..

It is January and a time for a few New Year’s resolutions or just plain turning over a new leaf. I have never been partial to drawing up a list and then going on a guilt trip when one falls by the wayside. So instead I hope to look at my life and the people and places in it with a pair of ‘fresh eyes.’ I am not even sure what it could entail although I have a few ideas up my sleeve.

One thing I hope to keep fresh in my heart is the gratitude I feel for my family. The Morkel clan are a strong group of individuals with definite opinions and ideas. One is reminded of this when they all come together over a holiday and we get to live under one roof. The family dynamic takes time to formulate as everyone has been living and running their lives independently. Then suddenly they are all back home and I have to remind myself that I have grown up children. I look around the table at our gorgeous brood…..and know that my job is done.

Time to look with fresh eyes......

Time to look with fresh eyes……

It’s like the first time when we open the door……

Those of you who follow my ramblings will have walked the road through our recent move to Vancouver and the rejuvenation process of a long in tooth 70’s style house.  Well this door is still open! The creative juices were fired into action when our new car began to slip down our steep driveway and into the garage! That was all we needed! We had only just replaced the two cars that had met their demise after their collision with a gigantic moose! The men rushed up to the road and came up with a plan. The wooden ‘chocks’ were brought out and our precious vehicle was propped up against them. Discussions ensued and plans of heated driveways, steel ramps and raised levels were bandied about. So there is sure to be a fresh look at how we access our house in the near future.

My God, you’re beautiful……..

We have a beautiful piece of riverine forest here in Vancouver but it comes with its responsibility and needs constant attention. There are branches that fall and leaves that block drain pipes. I would not have it any other way though…..As part of our revamp of the property, we called in the assistance of an arborist to assess our handsome trees. Regrettably we have to fell two old Hemlocks. They stood tall at the entrance to the house for the last 80 years. These stately gentlemen are diseased and threaten to fall on our newly renovated house. Can you imagine it? After all the toil of these last few months, I shudder at the thought. Hopefully we can honour them in some way. Possibly a useful bench made from their wood positioned in the place where their roots once grew. So I will be needing my fresh eyes and possibly a fresh back as I tame and enhance my forest garden.

Its human nature to miss what is under your nose……

The beauty of the Vancouver mountains still makes my heart leap. Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and the Lions Peaks are all in my view as I drive back up from the North Shore. I see their rugged snow-capped peaks and I have to pinch myself. I actually do live here.

Jack and Kate in our back garden enjoying the Vancouver snow.

Jack and Kate in our back garden enjoying the Vancouver snow.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The water rustled as it rushed down past the nests and over red sandstone rocks. The sharp corners resisted the flow and the water bounced out as it tumbled into the clear dark pool below. The black eagle nests were perched right up close to the edge. The deceptive array of tumbled sticks was sure to have a soft lining of feathers for the family. It was the penthouse suite and ‘nogal’ a room with a view! The only urban nesting pair of these magnificent Black Eagles had chosen well and had the most breath taking view over the Magaliesberg Mountains. The mountains that I knew so well…..

Witpoortjie Falls, the domain of the black eagle.

Witpoortjie Falls, the domain of the black eagle.

Emoyeni (Upon the wind), the female was about 35 years old and had captured the heart of her toy boy, Thulane (The shy one). She had been taken in by this strong and silent type when her first husband had disappeared some years prior. She had pined for a respectable period and then resolutely went out and surveyed the local talent in the nearby Pilanesberg. His mysterious ways had won her over and they set up home next to the Witpoortjie Falls. What a vantage point over the valley with the added dimension of an ensuite bathroom too! Emoyeni and Thulane had raised many chicks out of the pile of sticks nest that perched on the edge of the rock face.  It stood as a testament to the brood that had once lived there. But their little angels had grown up and moved out. I gazed up at blue sky that framed this rocky outcrop. The parents were there, flying high up over their home. These ‘empty nesters’ appeared to be rejoicing in the warmth of the African sun.

A rare sighting.....

A rare sighting…..thanks to Judy Haechler for this photo.

 

I stood and stared as Thulane and Emoyeni swooped overhead with an acrobatic display of delight. What a sighting! I turned and watched them soar high above the Witpoortjie Falls. As they caught the thermals, I could feel my spirit soar alongside them.  They hovered carefree and motionless for a while, then down they plummeted across the rock face and up the other side. Those in the know maintain that this was their courtship dance.

It was both elegant and had the required romance. Emoyeni was in her sleek little black number accompanied by the dapper Thulane in his best bib and tucker! There is bound to be the flutter of tiny black wings at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens soon. Gone are the carefree days to be replaced by pyjama drill escapades into the nearby mountains to keep the hungry mouths fed. It is the circle of life……

There is a constant to watching nature and the creatures that inhabit our world.  I am always mindful of the things that remain in sequence when I return to South Africa for a visit. It gives comfort when one faces the obvious changes that have occurred while I have been away.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ8D5Ihe4hg

 

The warmth of summer……

This song had plagued me for days and seemed to turn up on the radio each time I switched it on. I sang out at the top of my voice as I made my way down to the shops. ‘Everything is going to be fine….fine…fine.’ What was the significance of these strange words where some of the opposites were totally unrelated? Is free the opposite of focused?

I have one hand in my pocket and the other one is giving a high five.

I sink my hand deeper into my pocket as I do my morning ritual of walking Josh. He jumps like an antelope through the piles of Fall leaves that have gathered on the sidewalks. I love watching his enthusiasm for his morning exercise. He is undeterred by the fact that it is the same route as yesterday and finds squirrels to chase and dark holes to investigate. The burnished maples are holding onto to their leaves as if to prolong their beauty. Maybe they are just not quite ready for their dormancy or the harshness of the cruel polar winds. I comfort myself that we have a way to go before I don my goose down coat each day.

I am sad but laughing……

How can I forget the pure exhilaration of chasing about on the snow on skiis? I fell and laughed and fell some more ……and screamed! I did more manipulation of my back then my chiropractor had done all year! Then we ventured out on huge tubes and reached hair raising speeds down the smooth slopes. We played like kids…. But when the ‘really bad weather’ sets in, you scurry indoors and lap up the warmth of a crackling fireplace.

The lack of sun in winter can play havoc with the demeanor. Preparation is made for all eventualities and the days that we are housebound. We are like the squirrels and eagerly prepare for our winter confinement. I peruse the book stores for exciting reads and have built up a pile on the coffee table. I have everything from romantic reads about the Russian nobility to a book that dares you to dream. Ha! Ha! There will be a long winter for that! Along with my basket of soft mohair wool that I hope to create into something devastatingly beautiful!

I have not got it all figured out just yet…….

There are days when I still get lost and resort to my GPS to get me home. There are no mountains or mine dumps to guide me! The Canadian monetary system is still a challenge and I have not got all the coinage waxed yet. Thank goodness the usage of a debit or credit card is universal! I still convert into South African rand when I am shopping and almost have a coronary every time! I use words that the locals do not understand and often I get a blank stare in return. But have not resorted to ‘voetsek’ or ‘donder’ as my permanent residence has not come through yet! I have not mastered the politics. I am trying to work from the known to the unknown. So I have got to enjoy the antics of our portly mayor of Toronto but am still vague about the central government. I know that Canada is ‘vrekgroot’ but I have yet to know where to place each town on the map.  And so the learning curve continues…. I drink my gingko biloba each day and hope that my menopausal brain will continue to keep absorbing all these new things……..

 

What it all comes down to my friends…

Is that everything is going to be quite alright…..

Braving the winter chill!

 

PS. Need I say that Alanis Morisette is Canadian. I found out that she has a show in Toronto next week. No wonder she was riding my head side sadle!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Urno088IAo

 

I dreamt of Alaska so far away……..

 

I dreamt so much as a child. These wild and wooly dreams were often escapades into a fantasy land. I think Enid Blyton played a huge part in the content material. The Faraway Tree was by far the firm favourite. As I recall…… you clambered to the top of the tree and with each visit, a different land appeared. Imagination took me to some of these exotic destinations which later became part of my Buckett List. The list was largely in my head, as I had no idea what a Buckett list was.  I was surely too young to have one anyway! Although at that age, it was probably just the sense of adventure that conjured up these vivid thoughts of visiting far away places. On one such nocturnal journey, I visited the beautiful Alaska.

 We flew into Anchorage and all that I had dreamt about became a reality. The melting snow cascaded down the sharply chiseled mountains that surrounded the city. The ice -blue tinges shone through   glaciers as they groaned down the mountain face. They were forever on the move, melting and freezing as they were subjected to the elements. I stood at the bottom of this ancient mass of ice and felt very small in the grand scheme of things……. Then a ski lift took me up to the top of a mountain and I surveyed the world from above. The thread of trees wove their green path through the expanse of white snow. The silence was broken by the call of a bald eagle. It swooped overhead on the lookout for the ‘catch of the day’. This mighty bird had impeccable taste and found the local salmon to be most agreeable to the palette.

The fresh seafood crumbled open under the drizzle of warm lemon butter. We sampled the most delectable morsels from the sea and my favourite …. the white Halibut cheeks. Can you believe that these fish weigh up to 160 kilograms? No wonder that the ‘piece de resistance’ is the plump rosy cheeks! We were also treated to crab legs…..bright orange muscular ones. They appeared to have trained for a half marathon! Then there was the king salmon, served on a cedar strip with brightly coloured garden vegetables. The fresh pine aroma permeated through this delectable flesh. Both unusual and delicious!

It was time to visit these Piscean beauties on their home turf and we flew up north over rough terrain to a small fishing village. One out of 5 Alaskans can fly a plane and it is a necessary mode of transport in a country that has many rivers and over 3 million lakes!  So the salmon was duly caught, weighed and released. It was a beauty and it glistened silver in the afternoon sun. It swam off to drop its eggs and to surrender to the circle of life.

It was time for us to get back to our lives in Toronto.

 

Live every day like the first or the last one, with nothing to lose and heaven to gain.

 

Here’s to Alaska…..

Here’s to the people.

Here’s to the wild.

Here’s to the free

 

Up close to a glacier.

The closest I got to a moose!

 

Read Full Post »

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

 

Read Full Post »