Green Green

 

Living in the moment is something that I have aspired to for a long time now, ever since I was introduced to meditation at the Jivananda Centre for Wellbeing in Durban North, where Kiera and I used to attend yoga classes all those years ago (a beautiful place run by lovely people, Christine and Howard). It’s not really all that easy to do (living in the moment, that is) so I try to focus on the idea of “paying attention” instead, hoping that this will lead me to a “be here now” kind of consciousness (have I lost you yet?!). I find that writing this blog and taking photographs helps to bring me into the moment, as does weeding and meditation, but for the rest of the time I tend to feel rather more discombobulated than serene and lately have been thinking more frequently that the grass may well be greener, and weed – free, on the other side.

It was bound to happen, I suppose, this being South Africa and all. Our garden shed was broken into the other night and our brush cutter, hedge trimmer and a few other odds and ends disappeared into the dark. We were somewhat taken aback to discover that the thieves hadn’t broken the lock on the door, which I imagine would not have taken too much effort to do. Instead they jimmied off the wooden slats at the back of the shed and climbed in through the gap in the wall. Buggers! It was unfortunate that this happened shortly after I read a really disturbing extract in last week’s Mail and Guardian from a book about Plaasmoord (Farm Murder) by Sean Christie.  A couple of years ago, on a farm in Rosetta (not far from here as the crow flies), three people were brutally murdered during a botched robbery. The farmer’s wife and their elderly black gardener had their throats slit, almost decapitating the old man, and the Zimbabwean – born housekeeper was physically assaulted, shot and left to die.

The article left me feeling terribly sad, for all those affected by the murders, and for us as South Africans. And I confess that, as I glanced through my latest copy of the UK Country Living magazine (thanks Nicky!) afterwards, I was overcome with such a yearning to live in a small English village, where the divide between the haves and the have nots is not as enormous as it is here. This is the first time since I moved to the farm, almost three years ago, that I have felt at all insecure here, certainly never more insecure than I felt in Durban where we had way too many nasty encounters with people of ill intent.  In Durban we had a house alarm, an electric boundary fence and, because that wasn’t enough, we were part of a 24 hour street guard scheme. We don’t have any of that here and I really haven’t felt the need for it, until Peter moved up here. So what changed? Well, he brought the fucking news with him that’s what! I never bothered to buy newspapers or to watch the news on telly; a bit like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I was quite happy not knowing. However, Peter, bless his cotton socks, goes out every morning come rain or shine to buy any bloody news rag that he can get his hands on. Not content with that, he watches the news on telly, which seems to repeat itself incessantly, just in case you haven’t got the gist of how bad things are the first time round. And the news is always bad. No wonder everyone is so paranoid. No wonder I’m starting to get jittery.

So it was fortuitous that on Saturday morning, as I lay in bed sipping my first cuppa of the day, I turned on the telly in the bedroom (not something I do very often) and happened upon an episode of From Lark Rise to Candleford. It caught my attention at first because I identified with the young girl, Laura, who was writing in her journal when her father (Mr Bates from Downton Abbey) commented:

Ever since you could make words, you’ve been writing what you see in a journal, our Laura. I’ve never asked you, why do you do ‘em?

To which she replied:

It all goes by so fast, and this life deserves to be remembered.

(It helps to have PVR).

However, it was what came next that really struck a chord.  A young journalist, Mr Parish, turns up to write a rags to riches story about Laura’s poor family, from rural Lark Rise, who stand to inherit money that will enable them to move to the more affluent town of Candleford. He is accosted by Dorcas, the postmistress (also Saffy Monsoon from Ab Fab) who says:

There seems to be an attitude abroad of seeking conflict, relishing in it, to feed the worst in human nature. I am often accused of being sentimental, it’s true, I cannot deny it. I just find it more interesting to seek out forgiveness and acceptance, and those so easily mocked values such as generosity and loyalty, and love. Write about love, Mr Parish, is that possible? I dare you.

Needless to say, he doesn’t, because that is not what sells newspapers.

So, thanks to Flora Thompson I’ve realised that there has and always will be the haves and the have nots and never the twain shall meet.  And journalists leave a lot to be desired. It’s so easy to live in fear and expect the worst when bombarded by all the bad news day in and day out. But I’m onto that wretched inner lizard that tells me all is doom and gloom and I am not going to succumb to despondency. I’m going to try harder than ever now to live in the moment and get my grass even greener than those idyllic pastures that I drool over in my magazine.

nothing better than a warm afternoon, a cold beer and a lawn to weed

nothing better than a warm afternoon, a cold beer and a lawn to weed

a cross crab on our lawn

a cross crab on our lawn

from behind, his eyes swivelled around to watch me as he stood absolutely dead still

from behind, his eyes swiveled around to watch me as he stood absolutely dead still

our first scorpion, and not a crime buster

our first scorpion, and not a crime buster

 

 

the chicken sees

the chicken sees

Kiera asked me to post some pictures of the house showing our home improvements, so these are for you Kiks.

new floor in the kitchen

new floor in the kitchen

my doggies and the new floor

my doggies and the new floor

living room

living room

Layla is always there, never leaves my sight since she was attacked

Layla is always there, never leaves my sight since she was attacked

my doggies and the new front stoep

my doggies and the new front stoep

the new courtyard

the new courtyard

an unexpectedly beautiful space

an unexpectedly beautiful space

carciofi, from the allotment

carciofi, from the allotment

 

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8 Responses to Green Green

  1. Kiera says:

    The house looks amazing!

  2. Louise says:

    It must most definitely be a male thing that they thrive on the doom and gloom, I myself also prefer to be an ostrich, although maybe a “vigilant ostrich”. Loving your blog and your house is fabalas darling!! x

  3. Adam Rice says:

    You have a wonderful house, looks like it could be a candidate for Homes and Gardens….
    I tend to take our low crime rate here for granted, until I consider that essentially ALL of our SA friends have been victims of crime of one sort or another, often more than once. What a sad state of affairs. On the other hand don’t get the impression that Country Life is a highly representative view of life in UK! I guess around the top 1% can manage that sort of lifestyle.
    Thanks for your wonderful writing, I get a little jump of pleasure & anticipation whenever I see there is a new installment. All the best as usual. Adam

  4. Cathy says:

    Hi Adam, I’m still working on the Homes and Gardens look. Crime is a BIG problem in SA but fortunately we haven’t been so affected on the farm, one burglary in 10 years is not bad. In Durban we had numerous break-ins, so much so that Alex was quite traumatised (one night someone got in through the upstairs window and stole his phone off his bedside table while he was sleeping). After that he became a very light sleeper. I am so delighted that you enjoy my ramblings and I can’t tell you how much I value getting your comments.

  5. Paul Williams says:

    Hi Cathy, still catching up on your lovely blog. House looks really great. When we lived in Cape Town we had a blunted view of crime that was highlighted by a trip to Mauritius. Christine always gets the local newspaper there to brush up on her French. The huge story on this holiday was that a government minister had been accosted as he walked towards his front door by “Two men wearing anoraks” , one of whom had a kitchen knife in his hand. He challenged them, wherupon they turned and ran, dropping the knife. This story ran on the national TV and all of the papers for the whole week. We couldn;t imagine how slow a news day it would have to be for that tale to make it onto page 15 of the Tygerburger, let alone the Cape Times or SATV. And now here we are in mid-Devon, just south of Tiverton and in an area with a crime rate that makes Candleford look like Manhattan by comparison – unless we read the newspaper. All the best, Paul.

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