Bekende woorde van Jean-Valjean uit Les Miserables in sy soeke na sy diepste identiteit. Krisis of groot verandering in ‘n mens se lewe roep dikwels hierdie vraag op! Aftrede is so ‘n groot verandering en kan jou tot in jou fondament skud. As dit nie, is jy of breindood of onder narkose.
As relatiewe jong pensioenaris wil ek aspekte van my reis met oud en jonk deel. Nie om enige indruk te maak nie, maar eerder as terapie vir myself en ander. Die idee is beslis nie om sosiale kommentaar, gewaande wyshede of filosofiese denke op pen te sit, of te ontlok nie! Die idee is om te vertel en te deel – van reisverhale, die mooi van die natuur, kosmaak en kuier, medemenslikheid en die hart van Verandering.
Maar hierdie pad gaan baie rustig geloop word……
“When you are getting on in years (but not ill, of course), you get very sleepy at times, and the hours seem to pass like lazy cattle moving across a landscape.” – GOOD-BYE, MR. CHIPS, James Hilton.
Just spend a few moments at the upper end of Kenridge dam observing the ‘Jupiter- Saturn – conjunction’ with Rosebud, Rozanne and oupa’s two Bloemie princesses. Lia and Amelie right on top of the Fortuner’s roofrack. A moment in time, a memory forever.
Moments make life. Life is art, is a complex puzzle. So many pieces.
Who or what will we be at the next great Conjunction?
I am not sure if it is a direct consequence of the year of the pandemic or merely one of growing older and not having enough to do in retirement. Well, the latter is partly in my own hands and partly not, I suppose. The pandemic no doubt (in my mind) turned the world upside down in many ways, despite what the advocates of conspiracy theories may argue.
Life is a blessing they say. Life is hard, others say. Life sucks, the unhappy say. Life is good, indeed very good, a few say. Live Life and be grateful, the disabled say. There is no other Life we know, the downtrodden sigh. Life is not fair, the grieving say. Life is a golden opportunity says the optimist. Life is about humanity says the philanthropist. Life is not for us to comprehend some say.
Life is real – very real.
The pain in my chest is not fear of death. The pain in my chest is longing for my child and my grief that endure. C S Lewis said: “No one ever told methat grief felt so like fear”. The pain is fear and anxiety for the mental and physical well-being of my wife and my children on this shattered and contaminated planet. It is concern for my grandchildren. The pain is anger. The pain is the inability to change things.
The pain in my chest is an intense desire for a just society – for humanity. A burning desire for understanding.
The pain in my chest is angst.
Small Pain In My Chest
by Michael Mack
The soldier boy was sitting calmly underneath that tree. As I approached it, I could see him beckoning to me. The battle had been long and hard and lasted through the night And scores of figures on the ground lay still by morning’s light.
“I wonder if you’d help me, sir”, he smiled as best he could. “A sip of water on this morn would surely do me good. We fought all day and fought all night with scarcely any rest – A sip of water for I have a small pain in my chest.”
As I looked at him, I could see the large stain on his shirt All reddish-brown from his warm blood mixed in with Asian dirt. “Not much”, said he. “I count myself more lucky than the rest. They’re all gone while I just have a small pain in my chest.”
“Must be fatigue”, he weakly smiled. “I must be getting old. I see the sun is shining bright and yet I’m feeling cold. We climbed the hill, two hundred strong, but as we cleared the crest, The night exploded and I felt this small pain in my chest.”
“I looked around to get some aid – the only things I found Were big, deep craters in the earth – bodies on the ground. I kept on firing at them, sir. I tried to do my best, But finally sat down with this small pain in my chest.”
“I’m grateful, sir”, he whispered, as I handed my canteen And smiled a smile that was, I think, the brightest that I’ve seen. “Seems silly that a man my size so full of vim and zest, Could find himself defeated by a small pain in his chest.”
“What would my wife be thinking of her man so strong and grown, If she could see me sitting here, too weak to stand alone? Could my mother have imagined, as she held me to her breast, That I’d be sitting HERE one day with this pain in my chest?”
“Can it be getting dark so soon?” He winced up at the sun. “It’s growing dim and I thought that the day had just begun. I think, before I travel on, I’ll get a little rest ………. And, quietly, the boy died from that small pain in his chest.
I don’t recall what happened then. I think I must have cried; I put my arms around him and I pulled him to my side And, as I held him to me, I could feel our wounds were pressed The large one in my heart against the small one in his chest.
Having been “imprisoned” since end of March, the eventual ‘breakout’ was highly anticipated.
18 August 2020 – permission to travel for leisure again. A little time to prep the caravan, arrangements for Emma and off on 8 September, with our first overnight at The Growcery at Vioolsdrif on the banks of the Orange river. The memory of my first visit to this arid land without doubt: scorpions! And we were not let down at all!
Only we, Sas, who manages this normally very busy river rafting spot and his many Australian cattle dogs – a domesticated cross with dingos!
Although just a one night stand, our pawed friends made quite an impression and we left with pleasant memories.
It has been a good season for this arid semi- desert part of our fragile planet. You know this when the Richtersveld shows colour other than shades of brown and grey.
An endless land. Past Eksteenfontein and Kuboes to Sendelingsdrif, port of entry to the park and of course Namibia via the pontoon.
Potjiespram campsite was unfortunately a huge disappointment, but we knew the De Hoop site would make up for it. First the passage through the Akkedis pass, which now, having traversed the pass before with sweaty hands and pumping heartbeat, seemed fairly easy.
Four days at De Hoop. Bliss, save for the more than usual number of vehicles – all Covid-escapees, mostly from up north. The very best post-‘imprisonment’ rehab ever. The tranquility of the slow flowing Orange river, the soothing sound of the water through the nearby rapid, the birds coming to say hi, the flickering flames of the fire, the ‘roosterkoek’ and the evening quiet. Paradise not lost, but profoundly found.
This place carves into one’s heart as youthful lovers would into the bark of an old tree. A memory tattooed from within. You will be back. You know this with your whole being.
Time stopped running during 2020, but the calendar not. Everyone had to adjust. Pensioners too. You see – work and career are all about time. Time is of the essence when you work to fulfill dreams and earn. To grow (in wealth) and to gather. Also in spirit, I suppose. All about purpose. All as per upbringing and Life. Off course it all makes sense – Life is a journey – enjoy the ride they say.
But what about pensioners and when Time’s sunset approaches? When you are still young you evolve naturally, adjust with much more ease, but pensioners not. They consume more time on reflection not only because they have more time to kill, but more than often dream ‘backwards’. It’s the circle of Life they say.
To us 2020 and the pandemic brought a state of oblivion – sliding, sinking, slipping and drinking us into oblivion. Is it time lost? Wasted? Not really, for some maybe. But for some it brought a time for new things and for appreciating Time. Reading more than ever, learning more again, exploring new things that can enrich and add value to Life. Gardening, cooking, baking (mostly sourdough), and clearing out dust covered possessions to momentarily call up a memory or two, but mostly because we have time to kill as Time is running out. There is a time to collect, and a time to cast away.
Dreams we have plenty of time for, even more so us pensioners taking an afternoon nap. Not the best utilization of time I venture. This is also the time that the magic of the movies adds to our dreams!
Go watch it – sorry, DVD it – nope stream it! Magic is not only for kids, it is for us too. What would I not have done if I had the ability to time travel! My life would have been shorter, but all of my children would have fulfilled their dreams to the full. More time with parents? More regard for this planet and its creatures, who knows – only Time.
Die jaar 2020 sal in die geskiedenisboeke as die post moderne-pandemie aangeteken word. Covid-19 het die boorlinge van Planeet Aarde goed geskud. Sommige natuurlik meer as ander, want mens is mens en eenstemmigheid bly altyd uit. Feit is dat ingrendeling vanweë Corona beslis nie net ‘n stuk (🍰) was nie, en steeds nie is nie. Inkorting van bewegingsvryheid, soos veral dié tydens die eerste toesluiting, het legio sequelae – Vereensaming, irritasie, individuele aura (dampsfeer) betreding, konflik, depressie, ontvlugtingdrange, kreatiewe denke, oorlewingsinnovasie en projekte.
Terwyl die werklike impak op lyf en siel nog ondersoek word deur hulle wat reken hulle verstaan die mens, is sosiale media gelooi met oorlewingsidees. Een hiervan was natuurlik die ‘brood van die lewe’. Die oerbrood, die natuurlike, die gesonder, die moeitebrood, die smulbrood – ‘sourdough’- suurdeegbrood.
Ek moet ruiterlik erken dat brood gedurende ingrendelling ook een van my reddingsboeie was! Daar is iets omtrent die hele proses – moeite, verdraagsaamheid, afwagting, resultaat. As die botter wegsmelt in ‘n warm sny, dan weet jy, ruik jy, ervaar jy, proe jy en heel jy bietjie vir bietjie.
Die begin – oersuurdeeg, met net meel en water gemaak. Dan daagliks bietjie gevoer en na 5 tot 7 dae het jy jou permanente en parmantige kerngis -“starter”, wat ‘n naam moet kry, want dit is soos om nog ‘n opstandige en altydhonger kind in die huis te hê. Meer soos ‘n adolessent, wat oorkook van moeilikheid soek – en kos. In my geval is hierdie ‘kind’ Juju gedoop.
Juju is nou al deel van die huishouding en is telkens die katalis vir heerlike en gesonde grendelbrode. Laasgenoemde het gedurende ingrendeling een van die mees gewilde onderwerpe geraak. Kyk maar net na Google. Gaan kyk maar net na wat op youTube beskikbaar is! Kyk na al die vrae en antwoorde op Google. Dan natuurlik ook soveel menings as wat daar siele is. Vir diegene wat Duits kan lees- hier is ‘n lekkervoel storie oor ‘n bewaarskool vir ‘Jujus’).
Die proses van eksperimentering, innovering, verkenning en afwagting neem jou aandag heerlik weg van die pandemie. Boonop vereis die proses nie die dra van ‘n masker nie!
My eie grendelbroodterapie het nou al ‘n paar aanpassings gesien. Verkenning is interessant en stimulerend! Geen super klewerige vingers van die redelike klam deeg nie. Ander tegniek as uitrek en vou. Ek gebruik nou ‘n spatula om die deeg oor te trek en in te vou binne in die bak.
As jy in die laat middag begin, het jy baie drinktyd, want die proses van water, suurdeeg en meel (ek vergeet telkens die sout!🙄) tot die deeg laat rus vir 10 tot 12 uur voor bak, verg so 5 of 6 intieme interaksie van spatula bewerking! Oortrek en invou, oortrek en invou…….so elke 30 minute.
Hoe aktiewer en opstandiger Juju is, hoe beter. Nou gevind dis beter om die suurdeeg (Juju) eers net met die water (2 koppies teen kamertemperatuur) te meng en ‘n rukkie te laat staan voor die meel ingevou word. Amper vergeet- 4 eetlepels van ou Juju! Dan die meel inwerk en eerste rus onder ‘n doekie.
Aanvanklik die deeg na ‘bewerking’ oornag in die yskas gesit, maar los dit nou buite. Raak redelik reaksionêr en dapper. Ek kort nog net ‘n goeie rysmandjie ( banneton proofing basket), wat ek nou bestel het, maar intussen werk my meelbestrooide plastiekbak heel goed. Met die deeg goed gerus en gegroei, volg die voorbereiding vir bak. Ooit gehoor van ‘n pot bak? Dan nog ‘n leë pot! Wel, suurdeegbrood het baie hoë temperatuur en stoom nodig. Die pot moet ‘n soort van ‘Dutch Oven’ wees, wat net beteken ‘n “swaargewig” kalant, soos gietyster, Le Crousette,ens. Jy bak die brood as te ware in ‘n oond binne in ‘n oond!!
Oond bitter warm teen ongeveer 250 grade. Leë pot met deksel op in vir die potbak oefening vir so 15min. Intussen word die deegie mooi rond gevorm met so ‘n soort van onderlangs invoubeweging. Snytjies op bokant en bestrooi met meel.
“Scoring” – Scoring is slashing the dough with a blade or a sharp knife to allow it to expand during baking. The purpose is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” Easier said then done!
Selfs my eie messie vir die sny van die deeg ontwerp en vervaardig! Kurkprop ( oorvloed danksy Corona) en Stanley meslemmetjie! En Pratley Putty!
As die leë pot “gebak” het ( klink laf), word die ronde deegie versigtig in die pot geplaas, deksel terug en in die oond vir 35minute. Stoom help en ek kry dit deur’n papbakkie vol water in die oond te sit langs die pot. Ek het natuurlik deur die hele proses verskeie kere besef hoe warm 250 grade rerig is! So – wees bedag!
Snaaks hoe grendel genoeg geduld gee – deksel af na 35 minute en lekker verder bak en bruin vir nog 25. As jou tydsberekkening reg is, is die eerste warm sny teen koffietyd gereed. Botter ingesmelt en die avokadopeer dik gekapok met sout en peper!
Does he really care for those being raped by oupas and uncles, the pregnant farmer’s wife being butchered, the hundreds at the intersections across this land, begging for a day’s work, for Lindile Mkhathu living in his mokhukhu dreaming of selling veggies in the streets of Khayelitsha in Mangaung? No, he does not, they do not. They have no heart. They are evil to the core. Fuck them all!!
I am tired.
Tired of Covid-19. The bullshit, the apathy, the false prophets, the total lack of love and caring. The fake lives, those jubilantly tweeting that another boer bit the dust, the obsession to drive a Range Rover ( posting a photo on Twitter to prove same) irrespective of whether people are dying of hunger. Exploiting the blind, leading the blind, betraying the the blind and never ever praying for forgiveness , do they?
Covid-29 – the greatest of blessing to those who don’t give a damn. A heart-breaking time to those who do care. What paradox! What utter distortion? What evil!
Then there are the humanbeings with a heart – my son passionately tending to the little cancer patient holding her little black hand firmly in his white hand, my daughter pouring out all her love over the hundreds of little Sotho kiddies with disabilities. I see the pregnant mothers lying in the corridors of the Dora Nginza Hospital in the Eastern Cape, waiting in utter desperation to receive just a bit of humanity and I long with an aching heart for my late daughter, who so passionately cared for them as a young doctor in 2005.
As mens net gewoond begin raak het aan die nuwe vryheid wat aftrede gebring het, is die ingrendeling as gevolg van Covid-19 ‘n versmoring vir liggaam en siel. Die enigste werklike teenmiddel teen hierdie gebrek aan suurstof is om jouself as te ware in ‘n selfgeinduseerde koma van nostalgie te laat gaan. Na ‘n ander wêreld – die een van herinneringe en onthou. Die ou fotos wat jy in hierdie tyd kan oproep met een vingerklik maak telkens die venster na daardie ander wêreld oop.
Ons is maar altyd opsoek na troeteldier vriendelike kuierplekke sodat Emma kan saam gaan en ons met minder van ‘n gewete dan die lang paaie kan vat met die BushLapa. Daar is nogal ‘n hele paar lekker kampopsies in die Weskaap waarheen netjies opgevoede woefies kan saam gaan. Ons het van hierdie plekke probeer, maar sommige maak vir ‘n verskeidenheid van redes nie ‘n kuiertjie heeltemal pret nie. Rivierplaas naby Villiersdorp het die vriendelike Hugos, maar net te veel miskiete, muggies en vreemde vliëende goeters wat so byt dat jy na jou kuier antibiotika, kortisoon en nog ander goeters in jou lyf moet kry om te oorleef. Montagu karavaanpark is te veel karavaans en daar word te erg teen die honde gediskrimineer. Honde soos Emma is immers lank nie meer heeltemal hond nie en fundamentele regte kan nie sommer na willekeur ingekort word nie.
Ons het baie van Khomeesdrif gehoor maar verskeie pogings om daar uit te kom het gefaal weens onvoorsiene buitengewone reenbuie in die Overberg. Rykie Swart het voorgestel ons wag bietjie en die deposito lê snoesig.
Dit was in 2018 en die BushLapa was nog nuwe speelgoed, toe Rykie sê dit lyk goed vir ‘n kuiertjie. Wat die uitsien nog groter gemaak het, was die vooruitsig van ons Bloemie meisies se saam kamp! Rox en die twee feetjies het kom kuier. Amelie, oupa se kampvuur en braaimaat, en Lia die oupa omdievingerdraaier. Vir die Bloemies is die tent ingepak en die karavaan bevoorraad, Emma se tas in en ons was oppad. Nie eers ver ry nie – Khomeesdrif lê net so newens Riviersonderend op die R 406.
Die staanplekke is heerlik groot en soos altyd het ek en Rosebud ons gesprek gehad oor watter ene en hoe presies die karavaan moet staan. Dit is soort van deel van die kampervaring. Emma was in haar noppies en het sommer gou die ander maatjies gaan groet. Amelie en Lia het ewe gou die vriendekring vergroot en die Bloemies het te lekker Engels gepraat. Lekker speelplek hier vir kind en dier! Ouma het selfs swaai gery!
Die kampterrein lê teen die rivier of dan een loop van die rivier, heel paslik genoem die Riviersonderend! Die water is nie super helder nie, maar darem stukke beter as die muskiet en muggiewater van Rivierplaas! Daar is meer as genoeg bootjies en kanoes om pret te hê en te verken. Rox ken van roei en het die wêreld omtrent verken! Die kinders en Emma het heerlik in die water baljaar!
Die pragtige nuwe en breë oranje kanoes wat ek en Rox vir ons toegeëin het vanweë die heerlike stabiliteit het net later geblyk nie Khomeesdrif se eiendom te wees nie, maar die van ‘n medekamppeerder! Kaapse ou, maar met die vriendelik kom sê ook sommer aangebied dat ons dit maar kon gebruik! Heerlike kampgesels by die lapa teen die rivier.
Daar is maar niks op hierdie aarde soos ‘n kampvuur nie! Vlamme wat betowerend baljaar, gelukkige kinders en hond, goeie geselskap en ‘n wyntjie! En ‘n aand wat aanbreek.
As mens in hierdie tyd van ingrendeling met nostalgie deur grepe van gister reis ervaar jy tog so ‘n klein bietjie virtuele vryheid, maar veel belangriker is die waardering van werklik onbegrensde vryheid. Min dinge klop ‘n lekker kamp en dit was ‘n lus om die kinders se eindelose energie te sien en in jou hart te bewaar.
Emma het selfs middag slapies gevat, want lekker kamp maak hondjies moeg!
Dit was ‘n heerlike kuier en werd om weer te besoek- wanneer ons weer vry is!
When one has been blessed in so many ways over an entire lifetime, the slightest waivering in gratitude or moment of resentment of life for the cards dealt you at any given moment, should put you to task to reflect on life in its essence instantaneously. To seek comprehension of Life. But does it?
This blog is not only about past or real time physical safaris, being travels or journeys to explore the beauty and richness of nature, but also about the travels of the mind, the heart and the soul. It is also about the journey of Life. This journey is not reflected upon from a rigid specific religious regime, be it one that is inclusive or exclusive in teachings, but rather in the context of an infinite Divinity, universal and uncontaminated by man. We are not subjects of a Puppet Master, but creatures of free will. It is in this freedom that the problem often finds birth.
Reflecting on life’s journey and the quest for comprehension I pay tribute to my wife, Rosemarie(Rosebud) and our two kids, Rozanne (Rox) and Johann (Riet,) who are walking this earth with profound commitment and pride, and our angel in the parallel world of Purity and Everlasting Life, Cornel (Nella). It is in the immense sweet and bitter of this life that the quest for comprehension finds its birth and embarks on its own journey.
Having both grown up in the most beautiful varsity town of Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa, both Rosebud and I were raised in fairly modest middle-class families. Life dealt us good and not so good cards over time, but generally life was good and we were both blessed with the opportunity to study at the University of Stellenbosch and obtain respectable professional qualifications.
Post graduation a fresh chapter of Life started. Difficult times, with Rosebud having to travel by train early in the morning to the high school where she was appointment as German teacher. I was more fortunate and could commence my career as state prosecutor at the Stellenbosch Magistrates Court. Hard times followed with Rosebud’s train travels every day, Johann spending most of each day in day care and me having to attend on all criminal prosecutions in town, save for some relief during varsity term breaks when law students joined for practical training. Johann’s cronic Otitis Media added to stress and guilt.
But – in the end we made it….
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other” – Walter Elliot (1888- 1958), Scottish politician
Then the settle-in years and growth – in family, house and happiness. Blessings came in abundance with the most beautiful family, friends and blissful suburban life in the tranquil and picturesque Durbanville.
Our three beautiful children were indeed the most precious gifts ever received. All three gifted in so many ways, everyone an individual creature in own right and as per fairly normal in this world, as for boys, Johann the most mischievous! Suburban life was indeed good for the best part of 25 years. Johann was a most gifted all round sport person and excelled in tennis, ruby, golf and cricket. To him academic work always came a distant second to his sport. No wonder then that, during his aptitude testing for university, it was made very clear to him that he should have worked much harder if he really wanted to become a doctor, as he proclaimed he wanted to! Well, our boytjie (Afrikaans) opted to pursue his cricket career further and was selected to the SA Development team. He played with Jacques Kallis, who eventually played for the South African national team, the Proteas. Johann had dreams of playing county cricket in the UK, but while attending the Boland Cricket Academy the late Bob Woolmer brought him to his senses, advising that as he had the opportunity to pursue studies at the university, he should rather do that first. That was the turning point – dropping-out from his first year of studying Bsc. Agric, he suddenly seemed to have found his niche! He became enthralled with the study of biochemistry and registered for a B.Sc degree. His journey in the field of Molecular Biochemistry culminated when he, after having obtained the degrees of Honneurs BSc and Master of Science, obtained a PhD from the university of Oxford, UK.
In the meantime the girls showed their mettle in own right. Nella excelled academically and proved to be a natural leader. As head girl in the primary school and deputy head girl in high school, she showed immense character and leadership and made us proud. She was so talented in so many fields – academy, sport ( provincial colours in hurdles), ballet, netball, music (piano and trombone). It was as if, somehow, she had an urgency about her. She performed as trombonist in the Hugo Lambrechts Orchestra and traveled abroad. She pursued her dream to become a medical doctor and qualified in 2004.
Rozanne, being the youngest sibling, had a bit of a tough time with the two older ones. Always the wiser, they supplemented parental guidance to the extreme! Poor youngest one! She however stood her ground and showed character as an individual. As captain of the first hockey team she demonstrated leadership qualities in own right. But, always the softer, more empathetic little one. No surprise then that she decided to become an occupational therapist. She proved to be the one with a true and intense calling to serve the often forgotten – the mentally and physically disabled.
How blessed can one be on this earth? No riches can buy this. It is but only by the Grace of the Infinite Divinity. As parents our contribution remains minuscule.
For me, who lost my father at the age of eleven, the only remaining wish was to be spared to see my children grow into adulthood and become fulfilled and proud parents in own right. Surely, this would complete the picture for me and Rosebud.
How immensely blessed are we not to be kept from earthly harm and the pain of loss. How often do we think about this and give praise for being so blessed every time we see the sorrow our neighbour has to bear? When Life is good, it is good. Had we but a deamon with insight and compassion to forever remind us of our blessings and that we should by nature show empathy towards the meek and downtrodden. This seems, in the end, man’s ultimate failure.
Alas, man is not living in a perfect world, where infinite happiness endures and a Devinity shields off all harm.
And then -2005 – Our Annus horribilis.
A year of major events and achievements it was meant to be. Rox with a newly found love busy with her 3rd year at varsity, Nella serving as intern at Dora Nginza Provincial Hospital in Port Elizabeth and Johann in Oxford with wife, Trix, and finishing up on his Ph. D while working as researcher at the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Sciences. Rosebud and I just having scaled down and moving to a smaller dwelling in a security complex.
Nella, at the time engaged to be married to Rudi Nel, who also worked as a doctor at the same hospital, started to plan the wedding. A date was set for 1 October that year and planning for the wedding was on track.
Johann arrived from the UK a week before the wedding to attend a varsity reunion of sorts. It was great to have him home. Rosebud, Rox and I were on top of the world!
Then – exactly 19:50 on Friday the 23rd of September 2005, the call no parent should ever receive – it was Rudi’s father from Riversdale. Both our beloved children were killed in a car crash just outside of Knysna at 19:00.
We entered another world in a fraction of the second that followed the ending of the call. Our new world was surreal. The intense desire to escape this world of indescribable surrealism pounded through head and heart. Then the natural protection of the body against total self-destruction kicked in- numbness.
Our Peace took flight like a eagle leaving its warm and secure nest soaring high into the skies to nothingness and to enter a new world, and never to return.
‘Is there a way I can find you, Is there a sign I should know, Is there a road I could follow To bring you back home?Winter lies before me Now you’re so far away. In the darkness of my dreaming The light of you will stay.‘
– Enya – Where are you this moment
Nothing could ever be the same again, but Life has a side that shows no or little mercy. Perhaps Life knows best and hammers it into us that the only way out is through. Who knows – only Time.
Johann finished up his PhD at Oxford and made the call to return home to pursue Nella’s lost dream i.e. to serve through practising as a medical doctor in his own country. Only problem was that the holding of a Ph.D in cancer research did not open the door to registration for studies in medicine per se. However, Life showed a kinder side again and Johann was granted special admission by the University of Stellenbosch to register for the MBChb. He was no youngster anymore and started off in 2007 joining the below the 20’s first year group of students. Without the immense support of his wife, Beatrix (‘Trix’), this journey would not have been possible. Trix, also holding a Master degree became the sole breadwinner of the family. Many years of profound perseverance and Devine Grace on the part of Life brought a final crowning of unwavering passion, driven by the memories of Nella.
Amidst Johann’s pursuit Life’s dark and unkindly side stepped in again when Rosebud was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. A sequela of the loss of a child?
Chemo-room faces, lines dripping poison in hope of life, nausea, darkness, silence. Repeat, repeat and repeat. A body broken in desperate hope of wholeness. Chemo, Herceptin and radiation. But in the end a battle bravely fought and won!
In the meantime Rox pursued her dream to simply love and serve the downtrodden and often forgotton kids. Her passion for the physically disabled children at the Tswellang Special School in Bloemfontein has no boundries! How blessed are we to have a daughter who has a heart full of love and is the best mom in the world!
Amidst Life’s almost unbelievable twists and turns today, in the time of Covid-19 and a world in turmoil, we are blessed to bear witness to Johann’s final academic accomplishment following of a journey of 25 years post high school. Having passed his final exams to qualify as specialist oncologist we celebrate with him and also as a family celebrate together the life of Nella, who has indeed been a huge inspiration along this long road. Life is kind and cruel, fair and unfair, joyful and full of sadness – almost as if Life suffers from some form of bipolar disorder. Can we control Life’s state in anyway or can we not? Can we comprehend Life?
Where are you this moment? Only in my dreams. You’re missing, but you’re always A heartbeat from me.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” – John Muir
Dag 20 van Covid-19 pandemie afsluiting, isolasie, gevangesetting of wat jy dit ookal wil noem. Ons wetsgehoorsame burgers is nie gewoond aan ‘n tronkbestaan nie. Hierdie is ‘n vreemde toedrag van sake – ons binne en hulle (die boewe) buite! Om die waarheid te sê, van hulle sien toe dat die klein outjie die wet gehoorsaam, terwyl van hulle (die boewe) vrye toegang to drank het – dit, terwyl ons voorraad uitgeput raak! Wel, ‘Life ain’t fair”! Maar helaas is dit nie vir my ‘n saak nie. Om ‘n slag super sober te wees is goed vir die liggaam en gees. Wat nie goed is vir die liggaam en gees nie, is die intense nostalgie wat hierdie tronk bring. Ek begin elke dag meer voel soos Gulliver wat net met meer toue en tentpenne vas geklem word teen hierdie stukkie grond.
‘n Mens kan baie dinge doen in afsluiting en ons mense se vindingrykheid toon geen perke nie – Youtube videos van stupid dansies, toneelspel of moers snaakse (tot op ‘n punt) Whatsapp Corona grappies of lewenswaarhede rondstuur, huisprojekte aanpak wat jare reeds geparkeer staan, tuinmaak, “masterchef’ speel ad nausea, beskuit en brood bak dat jou skaal begin kraak by die geluid van die oond wat aangaan. Natuurlik kan mens ook meer dinge doen wat waarde toevoeg, soos lees en musiek luister! MAAR, op ‘n stadium begin die suurstof uitloop, groei die donker en trek die keel toe.
Dit is op hierdie punt wat die hart en die geheue begin oorneem, of jy wakker is of slaap, of jy brooddeeg knie of jou ingelegte olywe se soutwater vir die 50ste maal vervang. Die aansteek van die vuur vir die soveelste Coronabraai en die tuur in die vlamme wat vry en vrolik dans, is die laaste strooi en die verlange na buite en na kamp, weg van almal en alles, begin brand soos gloeiende kole deur jou……
Soos gister, sit Emma reeds en wag – “kom ons ry mense, wat is julle probleem!”
Ag mens, en was dit lekker! Heerlik weggesteek in die Olifantsrivier bergreeks bokant Porterville, Wes Kaap. Die uitnodiging: “Come and fly the skies where black eagles soar, hike the paths of the leopard, climb the rocks where baboons play and spend some time at a rock pool each day”
Charlotte bring ‘n hele sak vol varsgeplukte lemoene. Nog nooit het enige lemoen so gepro nie, en geen wonder nie want, verduidelik sy, ‘n nuwe varieteit vir uitvoer na buiteland.
Op met die Dasklippas ( nie grappies vir ‘n gewone karretjie nie) net newens van Portervile en hoog in die berge wag die heling van Beaverlac in die vallei met sy pragtige lemoenboorde. Buite seisoen en skool – dis doodstil en Charlotte by die Ontvangs cum winkeltjie is warm en vriendelik. Net ons en 2 ander pare. Staanplek te kus en te keur. Goue herfsblare teen die intense groen lemoen bome met die goue vrug verf die landskap wat aan die voete van die oerkranse rus. Dit is asemrowend mooi. Beaverlac is ‘n werkende boerdery, knus by die Olifants en die Ratel riviere. Ons slaan kamp op naby die vol-in-vrug lemoenboorde. Net ons – ek, Rosebud en Emma. Ons weet nie van inperking of gevangesetting nie. Ons is vry , volkome vry.
Wandelpaaie lei na rotskuns en riviere, watervalle en drome, heerlike sonbak op die lyf en mooi drome op warm rotse. Afsluiting hier is heling.
In hierdie vreemde tyd van Corona hunker hart en siel na die musiek van ‘n waterval, kabbeling van ‘n rivierstroom, herfsson op die voorkop en drome wat deur jou spoel.
Everything was the same at daybreak on Friday the 27th of March 2020, well, initially I thought it was.
But then…… something was wrong – no, different! Daybreak was indeed different! The sound of the silence was overwhelming! No traffic! No one was going to work? Where were the occasional deep thunder and growl of the Porsches, the Merc AMGs, the Lambos and Ferraris of the Valley! The young smoothly groomed middle-aged announcing their presence and the fact that they actually do work! Where were the happy, hopeful voices of the men on the side of the road outside of our complex, desperately longing to be picked up for a job? Where the way-off sounds of trains being shunted and planes coming in for landing?
Listen!…… as darkness still duels daybreak, the sound of silence medley-mixed with the profound voices of the Cape robin-chat, the Olive thrush, the finches and the little mossies (Cape Sparrow)!
The first morning of Corona house arrest was profoundly surreal. Nature introduced the first day of a new era. For me, Rosebud and Emma this obligatory lockdown , although a foreign concept to our world, was going to be OK with so many birds singing in the back garden, long lists of projects and dreams! We are retired and home most of the time anyway, unless we go camping or embark on a relaxing safari, which was on hold anyway in view of a forthcoming family wedding.
The gravity of this pandemic virus is understood. The world is one and communication in 2020 second to none. From our bed, with the first coffee in the hand, we watched, listened and observed. BBC, SKY, CNN, Euronews, eNCA feeding us every single detail. We are informed people. There is no alternative and we must abide. Solidarity is to be real and not any longer just a dream or the name of a labour union. We can and must do this!
I look upon the world and realise how small our world has become, unlike the reverie of John Drinkwater ( Poems – 1928):
“ I look upon the world and see
A world colonial to me,
Whereof I am the architect,
And principal and intellect,
A world whose shape and savour spring
Out of my lone imagining,
A world whose nature is subdued
For ever to my instant mood,
And only beautiful can be
Because of beauty is in me.
And then I Know that every mind
Among the millions of my kind
Makes earth his own particular
And privately created star,
That earth has thus no single state,
Being every man articulate.”
The first few days were easy peasy and the 21 day lockdown seemed like child’s play for retirees and a happy Staffie! Huge though the disappointment when Hatbox Cele announced shortly afterwards that jogging and doggie walkies were absolutely out.
Unlike many fellow citizens, we did not go panic-buying. It turned out that our take on supply – chain management was correct, save for one crucial item – potting soil/ compost! Everyone seemed to have rated gardening Number 1 salvation! Luckily we had a bit of potting soil left and the lockdown survival strategy started off with clearing and re-doing the first flowerbed. Wonderful therapy and both we and the feathered friends were satisfied! Rosebud put in a great effort and it was a job well done. 27,28,29, 30/3…..We can do this!
Between the three of us we also kept ourselves busy with some of our other favourite activities – Rosebud working her brain on crossword puzzles and riddles, and creating passion fruit cordial with the abundance from our garden, Emma lying at the front gate in the sun and dreaming of the evening ‘dop-tyd’ and ball game, and I getting into the dough to bake rations! Almost forgot, we also harvested the olives in the garden and having listened to a youTube presentation by a young American boy, starting my olive curing process. You see: anticipating the strains of captivity and isolation, establishing as many ‘new’ daily chores possible was pivotal! Olive curing the long way – replacing the saltwater every morning and evening! Well, two boxes to tick ( to tip!) each day.
Now back to the baking. Bread for the first day or two was done and dusted! One of my favourite work-outs!
But then – the sound of silence became increasingly loud as the first few days had passed. The whiskey ran out and so did the bottles of wine in the cellar designated for general consumption. The Ritmeester Moods were also done by day 4. Terrible planning on my part! Emma was becoming confused as the evening ball play was supposed to be signalled in with the crystal sound of ice cubes plunging into our glasses with joy! The second signal, before the first ball was delivered, was the match lighting the cigar! O!, what joys do the sins of life not bring! Forbidden fruit always the best!
Well, captivity and isolation call for innovative thinking and soon the popping of the cork was the recognised and definitive signal to Emma that it was game on.
Lockdown regrettably also means no movement in and around the complex. But “‘n boer maak ‘n plan” and it was sundowners across the street.
On the bread activity – why not venture into sourdough baking? Mixing the starter and feeding it every day produced yet more activities! At least for the first 6 days. Then the attempt to bake the bread…… What a time-consuming and stretched-out process, but positively contributing to the scorecard. Regrettably, an utter flop and the outcome a serious warning to up the game! Practice makes perfect, especially when time is no longer of the essence.
In the meantime Whatsapp contacts and groups provide virtually uninterrupted entertainment and yet again shows the endless creativity, fun and taste for humour on the part of Mzansi. Mixes of funny, dark humour, universal lessons and truths!
In the meantime schooling resumed – virtually. Parents realise innovative and creative thinking dare not have any limit. Workers realise that working from home has enormous benefits, but also challenges. Sportsmen and women carry on with the game virtually. Homeless people find their daily routine being disrupted and mixed feelings set in. Human rights are being trampled upon.
Ventured out for supplies today and what an eerie feeling! Empty streets, save for the odd brother or sister about the same mission. I notice the increase in motorbikes doing home deliveries of goods bought online. There are no joggers, doggies or¹ our lone ‘kombersman’, while a few beggars re-emerged from hiding after the initial ‘hunt’ by authorities. Jeepers, business must be awfully bad for them during the lockdown!
Humor is fading and Whatsapp is also gradually going into lockdown. The sound of silence is becoming a high pitched drone-like whine in my head. Days become longer and nights even longer, all ignoring the seasonal change.
Overdosing on sleep is not good for the soul. Dreams take over sleep and travelling through parallel worlds becomes extremely tiresome.