Listen to the new stories that begin every day.
If light were not beginning again in the east,
I would not now wake and walk out inside this dawn
– Rumi –
As this new year arrived, I thought of the past year and what a roller coaster ride it had been. Lovely lovely experiences, happy times, busy times and oh my goodness tough times. In a way we live such a quiet almost constrained life, but it seems to have been so busy and full. There is everything happening in the big world out there and there is the constant rollercoaster ride that life here in my bit of the world seems to be.
Fire on Fish Hoek Mountain
On the downhill to Christmas my neighbourhood struggled with fires on the mountains. We watched as the helicopters with bambi buckets filled up from the ocean. I have no idea how it works in other places but here we are dependent on a large cohort of trained volunteer firefighters who supported the professionals for days and nights as high winds made things difficult and dangerous. I went to get a haircut today and we all sat and remembered how we would wake at 5 am when the first chopper would fly over the valley. You lie in bed and try and gauge where it’s headed. For a week or so the sounds of the helicopters and the spotter planes became the soundtrack to our lives.
Fishermen rowing out to place the net
As the new year approached, we experienced our first heat wave of this summer bringing us several days of temperatures in the early thirties. The shark warning siren sounded several times and the swimmers crowded together on the beach. It was one of those more than slightly crazy days here in my bailiwick. Fishermen, who use a net pulled by a heavy wooden rowing boat (called a bakkie here) have traditional rights to fish from the local beach and yes on New Year’s Day the yellow tail were running in the bay. The shoals were attracting great whites but the deeply enshrined rights of the bakkie fishermen meant the shark net that safeguards a portion of the beach for swimmers had to be lifted. And so as is our wont we argued. We argued about the rights of the fishermen and the rights of the holidaymakers and whether the middlemen who buy the catches were exploiting the fishermen. But there you go, the fishermen hauled in a great catch, and as often happens a bronze whaler shark was caught in the net but carefully released and set on its way. And we settled down keeping our powder dry for the next argument which will surely come soon.
Beachgoers after shark warning siren
My grandson turned eleven!! And as his mom and dad and us, his grandparents, sat eating chocolate cake early in the morning we spoke of our memories of this boy. I had a story of a time when he was not yet able to talk. He and his mommy had been to a bakery and bought millionaires shortbread. He held one in his little hand not knowing his mommy had already given gramma a whole bag of them. He stood with his cookie in his fat little hand and tried urgently to indicate that something was amiss. He became angry and loud, his mom bent down and said ok you can have two…. he sighed with relief and turned and gave me the second one so I could also have a nice cookie! And although he is now tall and skinny and reckons he knows most of everything he still has that great generosity of heart.
And our rugby team won the world cup! This was not one of those times when as a country we stomped about terribly certain of a victory. We had been more than a bit surprised when we won the previous rugby world cup and this time we really just wanted to not shame ourselves. And it was clear that the rest of the world was very very sure that we would NOT win. As we advanced through the heats virtually each match was a nail biter. By the time we reached the semi-final I had stopped caring whether we won or not. I was just so proud of how the team, the management and the captain were handling themselves both on and off the field. And then wonder of wonders and against all odds and all expectations we won the final! What a happy thing to have been part of the joy that brought! Cars driving round my neighbourhood at midnight hooting, and then the homecoming! We could be proud of all of them, for winning, for how they won. And how rare for all of us here to just be proud. We as a young nation (only 30 years old) tend to take great note of how badly we are doing, how we fall short of the ideals of the rainbow nation but here was something with which none of us could find fault, all there was to do was to be part of the celebration!
My rose garden has been expanding! It has been hard hard work but to see so much in flower has just been glorious. The hours I have spent researching, becoming a part of a whole online community talking roses and planting roses, bewailing losses, and celebrating successes and yearning for space and hard to come by plants, it has truly been an education. I just laugh at myself because after the research and the decision made based on size and colour and disease resistance I click on a picture and I just don’t care: I want THAT one!
Had a swim at a favourite beach for the first time this year and it was an absolute delight! Penguins swimming and sunning and I could see a good number of them below the visitors lookout by the official penguin colony and that bodes well. There is something so healing, so joyful to be in the cold water, swells rising and falling, gulls wheeling, it is utterly life affirming!
Wishing myself a good year, a year of paying attention to what is good, to be properly grateful for what I have in my life, for who I have in my life, for every kindness I receive. So that is my resolution, my intention! Not a single bright good loving kind thing will escape my notice!
“What day is it?” asked Pooh
“It’s today!” squeaked Piglet
“My favourite day!” said Pooh
The Tao of Pooh
– Bernard Hoff –