3 December 2023

This Was The Year

Categories: Life
ripples in tidal pool featured

Oh, good scholar, I say to myself,
how can you help but grow wise
with such teachings as these——

the untrimmable light of the world
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made out of grass?
– Mary Oliver –

sand ripples

Now this was the year I really bonded with lentils! I have always liked lentils, just cooked simply and dressed with a splash of balsamic vinegar as suggested by Nigel Slater but this past year it became a proper relationship and I branched out into so many different curries, cottage pies and a nice South African dish called bobotie that uses a lentil curry base topped with an egg custard. It has been my lentil year!

Look to the rose that blows about us: – “Lo,
Laughing”, she says, “into the world I blow”
– Omar Khayyam –


bee and flower

And this was the year my little rose garden finally broke through and became what I had wanted it to be! I live on the side of a stony mountain within sight and sound of the ocean, so salt and bad soil is my lot and in summer a hot wind called the south easter comes roaring through. Now I must confess that for too many years I have had this romantic relationship with roses. I only wanted to grow heritage roses, roses from the past with wonderful histories. But you know, reality started to set in, I needed roses that flowered easily and often in this small space. Each rose has to earn it’s keep and so this year I planted four modern roses, and it has been downright exhilarating to watch the buds and blooms keep coming. So, Butterfly kisses, Adele Searl, Ballerina and brand new Bravo Babylon Eyes have found a home here. But my dear rosa Souvenir de Mme Leonie Viennot is staying for sure. At this very moment I am in that happy exciting space of choosing a rose for a gap that exists. I don’t know, I choose, I read up about it, yes I am absolutely sure and then I wake in the night and I think, no, I have enough single roses now maybe maybe it needs to be a rose with the true hybrid tea shape. And that is what keeps a rose addict with too little space up at night!

flowers in garden

This was the year when I went back to Aqua pilates exercise at a rehab centre. I injured my knee several times over the years, and I have not wanted to have a knee replacement, so I spent three years going to these exercise sessions until covid put a stop to it. And now I am back there and enjoying that type of exercise so much! Love the sprints we do in the cardio portion, makes me feel like a teenager. Enjoy being part of a group, enjoy the input of the nice young physio who is the coach.

This was also the year when I became so much more aware of my intention when I speak or act. Am I saying this because I want to help this person or to make sure they know they are wrong? Sometimes I want them to know they are wrong because really I am imposing my superior knowledge (in my language we have a word that means better knowingness!) and other times it is because things that are not just so, not exactly true make me fearful. Now although I am very aware, that does not always stop me from acting with bad intent, either I don’t catch myself in time or that anxiety that wants to be sure that we are all operating in the same reality just overcomes me. My wish for myself:

May I see with the eyes of compassion and act with my wisest
– Jack Kornfield –


braai kalagadi

This was the year that blessed us with a long visit from our son. A trip to the Kalahari with him was wonderful but really it was the day by day, the meals together, the every day back and forth that was the luxury and the gift.

I wish that life should not be cheap
but sacred
– Ralph Waldo Emerson –

This was the year when the Israel Gaza situation took a turn I had feared, and so very much hoped would be averted. I have been part of a community who believed with great passion that their own survival justified treating another community with repression and cruelty. My people’s religion fully supported this belief, scripture was always quoted in justification. Always survival, religion and that sense of being better than the other was emphasised and underwrote and supported the politics. Another similarity was that here, we, in the name of that survival, of making all safe and good for US, people were forced off their land, out of their homes. Of course, always in these situations atrocities followed. Once we allow ourselves to think that we only and we especially, are entitled to space and peace and safety all bets are off. And what happens to those who are demeaned and brutalised and have every hope denied? We create our own monsters and always we are surprised and shocked when they appear.

A trap is a problem for which you are afraid
to get the solution because it requires you to
change in some way
– C Spezzano –

This was then also the year when I had to look back at a person I had held in very low regard and revise that opinion. I am referring to F W De Klerk. He had been president of this country when we moved towards democracy. I had always resented it that he could not bring himself to be wholehearted in his apology for apartheid, that he used that tired old excuse: I was not aware. But this year I am grateful to him that he had the sense, the heart to choose peace over civil war. It does not even matter why he chose it, he did. And of course, grateful to Nelson Mandela and the collective that supported him that they chose peace instead of insisting on getting everything that was owed to them. Many people here, like me, are so grateful that whatever our troubles are now and in the future, we had leaders who chose peace.

But listen to this:

O nobly born, remember the pure open sky
of your own true nature. Return to it.
Trust it. It is home.
– Buddha –

We are all nobly born with a true nature that inclines to good. Let this be the year to begin remembering that. Let this be the year that I begin remembering that. And carry that into the bright new year.


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