My Generation

Last week, as I drove to Fordoun for my early morning aqua aerobics class, I envied the sheep in a nearby field their woolly coats. As I rounded a bend in the road I caught a glimpse of the lower slopes of the ‘Berg covered with their first winter snowfall. Winter here never ceases to thrill me after living in the tropics but putting a swimming costume on just didn’t seem right as I shivered with cold getting out of bed. However, the class is so pleasant and the need to exercise so great that I resisted the urge to crawl back under my duvet. Once we were all in the water bouncing away, the conversation turned of course to the weather. Why is it that as one gets older, one becomes so bloody preoccupied with the weather? Anyway we all agreed that winter has arrived early and that it’s going to be a cold one! Of course, as a townie I know nothing about when winter should arrive and how cold it should be, but I nodded in agreement while at the same time thanked god that I’ve got a new fireplace arriving next week.

One of the aspects of Midlands’ winters that I love is having a roaring, log fire. The mist comes swirling in late afternoon, the wind blows straight off the ‘Berg, you light a fire and settle down with a glass of cab sav, enclosed in a cosy cocoon. Slowly but surely all becomes well in the world, except that our fireplace never generates enough heat to warm the entire living room. We have a double volume, open plan living and dining room and most of the heat disappears up to the roof. So you have to sit right next to the fire to stay warm. I hate being cold and, after much deliberation, we have decided to install a slow combustion fireplace. I’m sad that my open fireplace is going to be replaced by a fireplace with a door; no more poking and prodding, no more crackle of the fire BUT there will at least be heat and, as you well know, this winter is going to be a cold one.

Eight years ago I invited some women friends to the farm for a winter solstice weekend. I googled pagan solstice rituals and planned a range of fun activities like sacrificing young virgins and drinking their blood (okay, just kidding). There was a fair amount of alcohol consumed so my recollections of the weekend are a bit vague but I do remember us dancing around an old tree stump in a clearing in the bush singing at the top of our voices (and no, we weren’t naked, it was winter!). I also remember that we each wrote our troubles on pieces of paper and then burnt them in the fire while we all chanted “die, you bastard, die” (also kidding there, as I recall it was actually quite a solemn ceremony). What strikes me now is that I’ve lost touch with all of those friends, for one reason or another and, with the exception of one or two, I have no desire to reconnect.

This is where I find Facebook and my generation so interesting. At a dinner party in Durban last weekend I was chatting to others my age about FB and we all agreed that at first we were averse to joining, mostly because we felt that it’s wrong to call people who you have no real contact with “friends”. I joined so that I could see the photos that Kiera was posting on her profile. Months later I decided to venture forth into Facebook land in search of friends as I thought it was a poor show only having relatives as friends. I found an old friend (actually, my childhood sweetheart) and that got the ball rolling. After that, more childhood friends were added to my list. It was such fun looking back on such happy times, sharing old photos and old memories of growing up in Port Elizabeth. To be honest, I don’t know anything about their current lives; we share a past and not a present. After my childhood friends, I made contact with friends from my university days. Again, I rooted through old photos, recalling a really wonderful time in my life when I was a yachtie. What I’ve realised is that I didn’t part from these friends of my youth for any particular reason, we just lost touch through force of circumstance. There are definitely friends who I have never stopped thinking about all these years and I know that if we met again now, we would simply pick up where we left off. I am so delighted that I made the effort to use this new technology, the spin-off has been priceless; Lex, Mark and Adam have all commented on my blog, which is such a fantastic boost to my morale and Richard has offered to take me sailing when I’m next in Durban, how exciting is that?

The younger generation seem to use FB to stay in touch with all their contemporaries, almost like a social diary, whereas my generation seem to use it to look up all our old friends and reminisce. I stay in touch with my existing friends through email and the good, old-fashioned telephone. We don’t hear from each other for months, years even, and then out of the blue someone makes contact and we get together as if there’s been no time-lapse at all. By the way I’ve now got 23 Facebook “friends”, it may not seem like a lot to you but remember it is quality not quantity that matters!

Port Elizabeth, early '70s

Port Elizabeth, early ’70s

student days, 1975

student days, 1975

Kiera's favourite spot, 2003

Kiera’s favourite spot, 2003

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Alex’s favourite spot, 2003

my favourite spot, winter solstice weekend, 2003

my favourite spot, winter solstice weekend, 2003

Layla's favourite spot

Layla’s favourite spot

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Theodora’s visit to the farm, May 2011

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3 Responses to My Generation

  1. Lex says:

    Another great story. You are so right we do not know much about each others lives today. This blog gives me a small peek into the missing years. A small view but enough to get an idea of your past.Good stuff.

  2. Peter says:

    Clearly there is still hope for you to become a rock chick and I will release Judy to become your manager.

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