Fruits of content

“I have found my place here and must say I love it, old manWhen I was still small you tied me gently to these sturdy posts and cushioned my trunk so that I could not get hurt. As you can see my happiness transcended into  a strong trunk and I have gained quite a number of good-looking branches. I think I have, sort of, become the envy of the girl next door! She really loves me being so close. We are almost touching leaves! Soon we will be giving you the most delicious pecans.

Remember the words of my young pecan tree during the chat with my trees?

Well guess what? The young pecan has gone nuts! Three of the most beautiful nuts and as happy as can be!! In fact – another one came out of hiding! What a blessing!

The next door neighbour, the pomegranate, was rather modest this season and produced far less pomegranates this time around. But, the mega fruits made up for this! The size and beauty communicates happiness, well-being and fulfillment!

I love my trees. Their presence makes me calm and content. It pleases me to see that they are happy too.

The trees talk to me…..from the heart.

“I’m in a redwood forest in Santa Cruz, California, taking dictation for the trees outside my cabin. They speak constantly, even if quietly, communicating above- and underground using sound, scents, signals, and vibes. They’re naturally networking, connected with everything that exists, including you.” – Ephrat Livni

The Big old man – Storms River

We are simply too busy. Arrogant as a race. Occupied with ourselves. However, nature has a unique way of communication, far superior to ours.

Today the old big man said to me : “Listen to my heart, let your imagination run free – I have been here far longer than you people have been or ever will be.

” An entire world lives in, around and under me. A cosmos of being. We  are alive and well, as long as you do not interfere”

” When night falls we celebrate our forest and rejoice in our being.”

” We are here for you. We are content. Just do not harm us. Do not carve out your love and longing on us. It pains and scars forever.”


………..But they don’t listen to me, …. – Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe

Sitting alone in the far corner of my small garden, on the old worn-out garden bench, I look at my trees and wonder if they can hear my thoughts. Some times I even talk to them softly in my mind. Can they hear me? Do they listen to what I am saying? Then the old song, sung by the unlikely Clint Eastwood in Paint your Wagon, comes to mind.

Not so long ago I read a most beautiful novel –

In this brilliant novel of Elif Shafak one of the central characters is a fig tree (Ficus carica). What we humans do not understand is that plants communicate. Yes, not as we do, but in a way we cannot or do not want to understand.

When young Ada Kazantzakis listens to her father, Kostas, talking to the fig tree he brought with him to England from Cyprus, she says:”Honestly , Dad, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but your fig gives me the creeps. There’s something strange about it, I can tell. Sometimes I feel like it – she – is listening to us. Spying on us. Crazy, I know, but that’s how I feel. I mean, is that even possible? Can trees listen to what we are saying?”

The fig’s response:

“Humans! After observing them for so long, I have arrived at a bleak conclusion: they do not really want to know more about plants. They do not want to ascertain whether we may be capable of volition, altruism and kinship. Interesting as they consider these questions at some abstract level, they’d rather leave them unexplored, unanswered. They find it easier, I guess, to assume that trees, having no brain in the conventional sense, can only experience the most rudimentary existence. “

Now back to my trees – let me begin with, ……hmm, the ‘Sculptor’

Fern tree – Cyatheales

Here I sit with my whiskey in the little secret garden at the back, the ice cubes merrily clinking, looking at the fern tree. Quite impressive, I thought – must be happy. Perhaps planted too close to the sliding door.

I know old man, it pains you when you finally decide to sever a branch – the one that has been intruding into your space, making it difficult to close the door at night. You have been patient and gently moved my branch away every time you closed the door. When it becomes tricky and  my leaf starts to hurt, you have to do what you have to do. I am grateful for the gentle way you go about cutting my intruding branch. Although it is painful at that moment, rolling out my newly sculptured branch makes up a thousand times for the loss. It excites you – my new creation – and I know you care.

The Pecan- Carya illinoinensis

“Flirter” – the Pecan nut tree is a matter of third time lucky as previous attempts to raise a good-looking tree here failed. The Pecan seems to have taken this position happily – most likely because of the presence of the slightly older Pecan lady on the neighbour’s side. There is just something about more mature ladies.  Sitting here on the old bench under the Pomegranate (with a whiskey, off course), I seem not to be able to take my eyes off this young boy.

“I have found my place here and must say I love it, old man! When I was still small you tied me gently to these sturdy posts and cushioned my trunk so that I could not get hurt. As you can see my happiness transcended into  a strong trunk and I have gained quite a number of good-looking branches. I think I have, sort of, become the envy of the girl next door! She really loves me being so close. We are almost touching leaves! Soon we will be giving you the most delicious pecans.

I want you to know I’m happy here and love the special moments when you sit here.

PS. I know your favourites are the old Paperbark thorn and the Pomegranate, but I can live with that.

Having listened to my Pecan, I naturally looked up from where I sat and realised that my Pomegranate was strangely quiet, nonetheless content.

The Pomegranate (Punica granatum).


By what name shall I call you? You are so complex in your fruit and your symbolism. Some have even referred to you as the true apple of Eve instead of the apple or fig. You are engraved in all religions of man. Your beauty is beyond words. You are indeed the symbol of fruitfulness, fertility and sexuality. I will call you ‘Aphrodite’.

“I know what you are thinking and it pleases me. My truth is universal and everlasting. There is no need for a waterfall of words – presence is all that man and plant need. I am blessed by the Creator. My metamorphosis from bare stems to sunreflecting shining leaves, buds bursting with expectation, Valentine blooms and secret ruby filled fruit can only be magic.

You are indeed my pride and I care for you deeply.

Reflecting on my trees and  communicating with them, I realise that there are so many of my precious plants that are deserving of mention and dialogue, but that would require another chapter.

One however remains that requires honouring here, the one that I have left for last as he is my oldest and most precious friend: my Paperbark acacia or Paperbark thorn. (Acacia sieberiana, now Vachellia sieberiana)

“The Protector”

I must admit that as it is with us humans, I do have my favourites. It is not as if I do not care that much for the others, but my relationship with the old Acacia is just different and in a way extra special. Maybe it is in his history:

We planted the rather fragile little tree some fifteen years ago. But a terrible and wicked winter storm raged and on one dreadful morning an ill wind totally uprooted him. He was toppled over completely and most of his young roots ripped from the soil. This was a life short-lived, I thought looking at the pathetic little being.

Contemplating what to do as the storm died down, a neighbour came by. Old Keith was a wise and caring gentleman: “It’s not the end! He is a tough lad. He is from our soil. He will get through this ordeal with your love and care.”

I carefully went about uprighting the young tree and secured the fragile trunk with ropes anchored to the ground. As with us humans nurturing and nourishing stimulates life. And – here we are today: “the Protector”.

An entire habitat established itself in and around the old man’s trunk and branches. He became a safe haven to many a bird. The sharp thorns protecting against many a foe. The canopy of branches and foliage screening off a burning sun, providing shade and shelter to man, beast and the greatful plants underneath – the ultimate Protector.

“You know I am not one for many words – deeds, that is what counts.

Thank you, old man, for believing in me, for not giving up. I care for you and the many seeking my shelter. I realise that you are at this moment concerned about my roots. They are too close to man’s structures. You dread to think what would happen should these structures start giving way. I am also a bit worried about this, but believe me, I am really trying hard to navigate my roots as carefully as possible through the soil. It is just the clay which makes things so difficult. Here and there I managed to break through. If my strong roots can penetrate the clay, we are ok.

For the occasional wound my thorns inflicted while you tried to keep me in shape, I apologise. It hurts me every time it happens.

I promise I will be here long after you have departed and my stories will carry on from generation to generation. I am grateful for your love and care. Our bond is Africa, our place of sun and suffering, longing and belonging, hope and despair- where nature and man can be at peace with one another – understanding and acceptance of our inter-dependance.

I talk to my trees…..

…….and I listen to them….


“Life is a luminous pause between two mysteries that are yet one.”

— C.G. Jung

Wit is die kleur van die eerste vel van die skoon papier waarop jy begin skryf. Die eerste van vele hoofstukke van geboorte tot volwassendheid, hoofstuk na hoofstuk van pret en plesier, van speel en werk, van verlief wees en verlore, van droom en drome werklikheid maak, van seerkry en heel word, van groei en groot word – van leef.

Wit is die kleur van vrede, as die lig vir jou opgaan oor die lewe, van vriendskap en vreugde, kinders en strewe.

Die kleur van adrenalien.

Swart is die kleur van die slot hoofstuk – van die einde. Pers is Genade as die swart net ‘n kort hoofstuk is. Riool-bruin as die swart lank is en die hoofstuk vol pyn en stroping van mens-wees. Genade is die aankoms in ‘n paralelle wêreld waar daar ewige rus en vrede is – natuurlik afhangend van jou kopskuif. Dit kan wit wees of swart in perpetuum. Wie weet dalk ook vlam rooi. Dit kan ook niks wees. Dit kan natuurlik ‘n avontuur wees!

Grou grys is die hoofstuk van verval, die gevoel van nutteloosheid, vrees vir val, vergeet of vergeet word. Die stryd om te veg teen ‘n gevoel van waardeloosheid, redeloosheid en broosheid. Aanvaarding van wat was en nie meer kan wees nie. Ook die feit dat jy nie jou kinders se toekoms is nie. Dat jou kinders en kleinkinders volledig opgeneem is in hul eie periode van wit velle wat vol geskryf moet word – die groot Wit, wat elkeen net een keer beskore is.


Grou grys kan kleur gegee word, anders as swart. Grou grys kan opgehelder word met pastelle. Dit verg net ‘n kopskuif, ‘n ken lig en Voltaren smeer. Natuurlik ook nuwe oë. Reis en verken, bak en brou, lees en luister, vriendskap vertroetel en vertrou en helaas, vrede maak met jouself.

Die sestiende 23ste September.


Dit was nie altyd so nie – September was vir jou hele 25 jaar ons mooiste maand. Die een vol blomme en bloeisels, vol verwagting en nuwe lewe. Ons maand vol blydskap geprop.

23 September 2005 – Ons ysige en ongenaakbare winter na net nog ‘n Kaapse winter en die aftel van nuwe eerstes. Wie is ons om ooit te kan verstaan? Aanvaarding van dit wat jy nie kan verander nie maak ‘n nuwe dagbreek tog weer moontlik.

Tog – as die nuwe dag breek op elke 23 ste September kom lê die seer en verlang weer vlak. Wat gaan ons vandag doen om deur hierdie 23ste te kom, dit verby te kry – om weer met ‘n nuwe hoop en dankbaarheid te kan aanbeweeg vir nog ‘n nuwe jaar.

Die freesias blom uitbundig vir jou. Die jasmyn en clivias ook – ‘n nuwe seisoen.

Mis jou my kind….