Archive for August, 2010

Allah u Akbar – God is Great!
As several stars form a constellation within a galaxy, or a region, or a season – here ber the stars of constellation named ‘WordFriends’. Clear beacons to each other, signalling whatever is necessary, beautiful and useful.. Strong lights each one, formed and shining uniquely.

Perhaps there are gifts to each star from connection in this net. Perhaps there is a message that the constellation as a whole, shines out into the world. Perhaps the world needs this.

Whether WordFriends knows or does not know these things, seems not as important as that each star continues to shine and find the fire to do so.

This is this star’s great thanks for your friendship and inspiration – and, immediately, for your gift of THE ELEPHANT WHISPERER to beguile and inspire me in a cocoon-time.

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We have received two newly posted stories since the voting list was drawn up.





For those of you who haven’t voted them yet – please do.

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We have come to the end of our first round of theme writing – the majority of votes are in for the best selection of our stories – still awaiting Lana, Jacqui and Lien’s lists Here is the voting so far in alphabetical order.
Please could the three outstanding voters make their ticks.
From what I remember there are some good stories that have not been included on the blog, hence not on the list. Lien you only had two stories – as you can see they were loved by everyone so we need your outstanding ones please. Jacqui where is your story about the ice cream girl?
Please lets get this finalised.
Thanks for all your wonderful words, your spirit of sharing and the effort you all put into your own evening as a facilitator. Each one was memorable!


SEA ROAD *****



WINTER 1945 ****








FLUX ****

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Of road trips and earth hour…..
At 6am I was up and just started the coffee when the frantic cries of the Cape bull bulls warned me of impending doom hovering outside. I know their voices, this is how they tell us that there is a snake or a mongoose or a cat. Not a belonging cat such as a rooikat or a genet but the domestic types who do not belong in a biosphere.
The cat got away and I had to start picking the salads and herbs we deliver to a local deli on Saturday mornings. At about 9am we made the delivery and returned home for a little bite before leaving for Stellenbosch with one of Rupert’s clients. Once in a while we visit the slow food market at Oude Libertas for a great food experience and also because lately we make a point of getting out of Beacon Bay over week-ends since it usually becomes an outpost for city degenerates thus rendering it quite unbearable till late on a Sunday afternoon when the calm is gradually restored and the veld animals are able to return from their hide-outs. Sitting down over a fresh croissant and second cup of coffee for the day, I glance over some headlines largely dealing with the Malema factor and with disillusionment i put the newspaper away. Rupert’s client and his wife arrives and we set out on our journey. The first signs of autumn are evident in la- la land, where people are seemingly affluent and forever young as they wander along oak-lined pavements past cut out Cape Dutch. The language, according to Breyten Breytenbach will be extinct in his lifetime. He is seventy.
We browse the stalls, greet Gaspard Bossuth the chocolatier from our neck of the woods, he has a long face today since apparently trading is everything but brisk. We taste some of Adie Badenhorst’s smooth red release – the secateurs label. Ironic, I think, but then I have a vision of pruned vines and the absence of tannins resonates on my palet . We purchase thai pesto from the coriander princess, taste lots of condiments and eventually relish a falafel for lunch. The client and his wife will be meandering their way back to Beacon Bay and we are proceeding to Darling for a family matter and thereafter to Philadelphia where we are to attend an earth hour event in the evening. From Philadelphia it is another half an hour or so to Darling if you drive through Atlantis. Atlantis remains as an apartheid barometer, a desolate hell of expansive dissipated industrial aspirations. As we drive past a vast stretch of rooikransveld with nothing in site, Rupert mentions that you could be murdered and left here here never to be found. Soon after this we encounter the pound. The hungry dogs will get to your bones first, is what I think. Somewhere near the seven eleven store are five modest blocks of flats – each with the charming name and logo of an indigenous bird: Loerie, Kokkewiet,Rooiborsduif, Windswael, Wielewaal…..the signs have begun to disintegrate, the streets are suspect. This is not Stellenbosch, it’s another country and the road out of here is called Athens.

Leaving Atlantis you pass Mamre and soon the rural landscape of Darling starts unfolding. It is a pastoral reminisce, you could nearly forget where you are, you could imagine that you were in a place without its harrowing memory and its continuing grief. You could imagine that in another life a painter such as Constable would have set up a canvas on a south hill and that he would have painted cumulonimbus clouds hanging low over the autumn landscape. But the broken car and family of six next to the road shifts the reality gear. Almost always fucked up cars that are breaking down. We don’t stop.

The family meeting concerns Rupert’s parents who are thinking of selling their flat in Mekbosstrand in order to relocate to Darling where his sister has been living for the past three years. We greet everyone and are offered coffee and muffins. A fairly emotional discussion ensues because there are few options here and the options that exist are cared for by Rupert. The opinion of the other children has become diminished because they do not contribute to the option. Is this not how it works in nature? Time with Rupert’s family is something I never enjoy. It is excruciating to say the least. To my mind they are largely joyless. Worse: His siter harbours cats, about thirteen at this stage, and even though I have stopped discussing cats altogether when in her company, I cannot avoid the hayfever attacks which usually ensues soon after arrival. This at least propels me outside where I can sit on the stoep and listen to the lively conversation of the vinke in the palm tree. The vinke who will die one by one at the paw of my sister in law’s cats until not one is left and until one day in the future this time in the afternoon not a sound will be heard.

Eventually we leave, Rupert having attempted to find some kind of solution to the habitational quest of my disenfranchised in-laws. We travel back the way we came but somewhere near that rooikrans section we miss the Athens turn-off to end up in a detour via Melkbosstrand and by the time we arrive in Philadelphia for the earth hour event, the street lights are blazing and four by four’s are pulling up on either side of the road. We enter without party spirit and I head for the nearest bottle of wine. The first glass of the day is like a sanctuary. Sulphite sanctuary .

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LETTER FROM M. L. (dated June 6, 2010)

I was not with you when you were 15 years old…. I wish I were. I remember alot of things. Things that were wrong. Things that should not have happened to younger under age little girls. And they were not protected. They were left alone to fend for themselves. They were left alone to make decisions for themselves. They were left alone to say oh yeah I’ll smoke that [or] yeah, I’ll take that.  We were not protected from the world as it was.


So why do you feel guilty? Why do you condemn yourself for what he did? For what all of them did to their children?


It’s not our fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault.

Stand tall. be yourself, be strong!




When I was around ten-years-old, in 1972, my parents divorced.  It was a time of Vietnam, the Moody Blues, drive-in movies and Watergate.   I really don’t remember much about Watergate, or my parent’s divorce, for that matter.  My desperately shy existence consisted of books and David Cassidy.  I had a mad crush on him, and the music to “I Think I Love You” reverberated in my head every time I looked at his face from the poster hanging on my bedroom wall. 

I have very few memories of my days in California between the ages of two and twelve years old.  I remember eating frozen bananas on sticks, dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts, as we walked on a wooden boardwalk that jutted out over the Pacific.  I haven’t had one since, but I can still remember how they taste.  And mom taking us grunion hunting in the middle of the night, under a big yellow moon, still in our pajamas, rolled up high so they wouldn’t get wet as we caught the splashing silver fish along the shore with our bare hands.  Charles Bukowski must not have seen us when he penned the poem “The Hunt”.

“…and the grunion ran again
through the oily sea
to plant eggs on shore and be caught
by unemployed drunks
with flopping canvas hats
and no woman at all”


I remember my mom, so exotic and beautiful with a smudge of kohl accentuating her sapphire blue eyes, and her long black hair done up in the fashionable bouffant style of the 60’s coming in to kiss us goodnight before she went out, her perfume lingering in the room long after she left.  I remember the smell of alcohol on her boyfriend’s breath when he snuck into my room, leaned in close and slipped his hands under my blanket. 

I have vague memories of staying a summer in a trailer park, a type of 60’s California commune.  I was supposed to have been with my father that summer, but he left me there, instead, to live with my two older half sisters.  I would stay awake at night listening to guitars strumming, and the hippies in the park, with their long hair, the scent of patchouli and cannabis afloat, singing Don McLean’s “Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie”, which remains one of my favorite songs to this day. 

It was there that my oldest sister’s boyfriend, recently back from Vietnam, came to my bed at night, just as my mother’s boyfriend had done.  Another time, he arranged to take me alone to the deserted cove of a beach.  I don’t remember how I came about not having my bathing suit on, maybe I took it off willingly, sparklingly innocent in my nine-year-old nakedness, the only witnesses being the soaring seagulls and the crashing sea.  I remember part of what happened there, but not all.  My psychologist told me once that our minds allow us to remember things when we’re able to deal with them.  I’ve considered hypnotherapy, but I think I’ll let it go.  Maybe my mind knows better.  

I was 12-years-old when we moved back to Florida.  We stayed with my grandmother until mom found us a place to live.  I loved my grandmother, but living with her wasn’t easy.  I don’t think she wanted us there.  She was usually angry and not very nice.  Now I realize that she was clinically depressed.  In those days, people went undiagnosed and somehow lived with it, unlike in my mother’s time.  Mom made sure she had plenty of medication for her depression.

One summer day, my little sister Lisa and I were riding our bikes.  A man stopped his car to ask us directions to the next town.  He left after we told him, but turned around and came back.  He asked us lots of questions, how old were we?  Did we have any brothers?  Where did we live?  Lisa became nervous.  “Debbie, we have to go.  Mom’s calling.  Come on.”  But I wasn’t falling for it.  I knew mom wasn’t calling us.  I shot her a withering look.  He’d just asked if we wanted to earn $5.00.  I couldn’t believe Lisa was being a big baby and was going to ruin our chances of earning some money of our own. 

He asked if we knew what a hand job was.  It sounded like something to do with fixing the car.  I was sure we could learn easily enough.  Anyway, if Lisa wasn’t willing to learn, I was.  “Just take a look in here, I’ll show you how.”  I took a step closer to the car and leaned forward to look in the window, trying to ignore Lisa’s pleads to go home.  What I saw was his erect penis clutched in his fist.  My mind saw a gigantic purple monster.  I sped away, peddling as fast as I couldBy the time I got home, I was sobbing hysterically.    Lisa, I learned later, followed close behind me, zigzagging the whole way.  She thought I’d seen a gun.

When I was thirteen, we moved into the sagging wooden shack on the edge of the road that mom bought.  She bought it for the property and said that it would be her retirement one day.  After all of her financial struggles, when she turned 60, she sold it for a million dollars, echoing what she’d always told us – you can never go wrong owning land. 

Some of the wood on the house had begun to rot, a great deal of the paint had peeled off, and the house itself drooped down like a dying daisy toward the ground.  What was left of the original white paint had turned a mottled grey, the color of a rain cloud before a summer storm.  It was a small, single storey house, which faced the rural road and had a thick pine and palmetto scrub forest as a back yard.  In the deepest part of the woods was a lake, which we kids swam in, until we spotted an alligator, its dragon-like ridged back, eyes and snout barely above the surface of the water as it glided silently through the reeds.

To the left from the main living area was a hallway.  Mom and Lisa’s bedrooms were at the end of it.  There was nothing unusual about those rooms except that my mom’s room was where the three older neighborhood boys took me that time when they broke into the house, after they beat Lisa’s friend up and broke a couple of his ribs. 

They were bullies, and wanted to use me to give the youngest of the three experience, while the other two looked on.

I didn’t protest and I didn’t fight.  I went willingly.  I didn’t think there was anything I could do.  Afterwards, it was never discussed, which was fine with me. I didn’t want to talk about it.  I felt guilty, like it was my fault.  I knew if I pushed it far enough out of my mind it would disappear and be gone, as if it never happened.  I was good at that.  Afterwards, when I saw those boys, they were mean and said that they wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.  However, I know what they did.

 And they know what they did.

At the beginning of the hallway was my bedroom.  In my room at night, I could hear the palmetto bugs and roaches scurrying, and I remember the sound they make when they fly – a whir, then a click when they landed on something – the wall, the floor, please God, not my blanket.   I was sure I would die if one were to land on me or crawl on me, so even though the nights were Florida hot I would make sure not an inch of space was open between the light blanket and me.

It was under those blankets in the sweltering sticky heat that I dreamed of another place, a place far away, a whole other life.  I wasn’t sure where, but I thought if only I could get away, I’d be safe and happy.  Safe from the roaches, safe from the older neighborhood boys, safe from the thoughts in my head, and my sharp self-criticism.  By this time I’d picked up where my father left off.  I no longer needed him to tell me I was good for nothing.  My own thoughts answered his words, like an echo in my head. 

Almost directly across the hallway from my room was the bathroom.  It was your typical bathroom, except for the fact that there was a hole in the floor near the toilet where you could see the ground.  Other than that, it was fine and functional, with an old tub, toilet and sink. 

One winter my mom couldn’t afford to buy another water heater when the one we had broke, and we had to boil water for our baths.  That was okay, we had a bath time routine at night and got used to it.

Then there was Uncle Billy and the Cracker Jack Rodeo.

Usually Uncle Billy would pick up the kids in his van and take us.  He wasn’t really our uncle, but all of us called him Uncle Billy.  His van was made especially for him, with complicated hand gears and something in the back with which to lift his wheelchair out.  He liked it when we came along, especially the girls, and would let us smoke cigarettes and weed around him.

I don’t remember the first time I smoked pot, but by that time, when I was 13, we’d discovered how to get nickel bags from the dicey areas of Wabasso, a few miles up the road.  We’d have an older friend drive us and go to the places where young men hung out in groups, their skin glistening in the stifling heat, outside informal, old wooden stores or bars.  All we’d have to do is produce the $5.00 and we’d come away with a baggie.   

We used to go to the roller skating rink in those days.  It was the best.  Especially the time we went after that party, the one at the hotel room in Fort Pierce, where they were all smoking pot and snorting coke.  I took a hit of acid that someone handed me, then we all decided to go down the road to skate.  The lights blared and pulsed and the music reverberated.  I skated round and round to Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You” and Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom”, and felt alone with the music. 

The next town south of us, Fort Pierce, was a frequent destination.  Many times, we’d end up partying in a run down hotel room with people we didn’t really know.  Once, at a party, I talked most of the night to someone and found out the next day that he was stabbed to death after I left.

Some summer days I’d go over to Bonnie’s place, which was just down the road from us in a small house near Curtis’s farm.  I’d walk in my bare feet, jumping from the sizzling asphalt to the sandy edge and back again, always careful of sand stickers. Bonnie was an older woman with a raspy voice and a hacking cough.  She would share her cigarettes, both of us blowing smoke rings, and talk to me as if I was an adult, sitting there at her stained Formica kitchen table, even though I was only fourteen.  Sometimes she’d impart her wisdom about sex.  “Once a girl loses her virginity she always wants ‘it’”, she casually said one day.  I never asked her about her life, why her children never visited, for instance, or why she lived alone.


It was the summer that Elvis Presley died; the summer that New York City brunettes like myself could finally relax after being terrorized by the serial killer David Burkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam.  I had recently turned fifteen and this was the summer that would change my life forever…

I rolled over on my towel and pulled at the edges of my bathing suit bottom, making sure all was covered that was supposed to be covered, and rested my head on my arm.  The day was perfectly hot.  The sun baked my oil-slick body.  I wriggled my arms a bit to make an indentation in the sand, until the hollow was just right.  I closed my eyes and listened.  My breath became rhythmical like the gentle waves that broke, then sucked away.  The sounds of the sea birds echoed in my mind, the distant sound of people talking became soft static.  

With my head turned to the side, still resting on my arm, I barely opened my eyes and squinted through the blazing sunlight.  There was an older couple, sitting on beach chairs reading novels.  From their deeply wrinkled bronze bodies, it was obvious that they spent too many hours in the sun.  I heard the protest of a child and saw a mom, sitting on a toy-strewn blanket, put on the bathing suit of her small son for the third time – he kept taking it off and running to the water’s edge. 

And sitting on the top landing of the wooden boardwalk, a young man stared out into the ocean.  I quietly watched him.  He had wavy dark long hair.  His jeans were worn and soft.  I found it odd that he wore jeans on the beach in this heat.  One thing I knew, he wasn’t from here.  No local would think of wearing jeans on the beach.  Well, at least his feet were bare.  As he gazed out, I found myself wondering what he was thinking.  Maybe about his girlfriend far away in a cold climate.

As it turned out, he was as charming, at least in the beginning, as he was good looking. 

Two months later, I left the wooden house by the road for the last time with the young man I’d met on the beach.  I left a note for mom, telling her I’d gone to Bonnie’s for the afternoon, and very simply, at fifteen-years-old, walked away and left home.

I didn’t carry many things with me.  A few clothes, and, as a second thought, just before leaving, I grabbed a picture of Lisa, mom, and me.  The feelings I remember were of excitement – excitement at the prospect of travel and the feeling of stepping out into the unknown future, which I thought must be better than the existence in which I currently lived.  I hated my life and I hated myself.   

If I had known, and was able to see the future, I would have hugged Lisa tight, and told her I loved her.  Mom, too.  But, I don’t have the gift of foresight, and in my youthful ignorance, I never could have guessed what was to happen, and how my life would be altered forever.

Once on the highway, I jutted out my thumb to the passing traffic, and finally left, just as I always knew I would.

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I’m looking forward to reading all your August gathering stories – and a little report on the evening ! Love and blessings to all – where and who for the next one?-Marguerite

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LAT NIGHT FINAL:  Please re-read , this time for THE grande finale , which is a time-warped addition to my offering when you met at Candy’s house.

To Beloved and Fascinating Out of the Boxers – Candy, Tilla, Jacqui, Lien, Debbie, Lana . In gratitude for stimulation and deliciousness , gathering sweet Selves from the murkiness of community and life.

Thank you all so much for your support in my – well of course, now its pretty much commonplace ! – incarceration in the body and place for a while. No doubt there will be learnings, and insights – but I’d rather think about good times and fun things and chocolate ( oh that incomparable Lindt Sweet Thins) and great readings. THANK YOU all for the gift of THE ELEPHANT WHISPERER. Of course, you know this will be absolutely the most bestest for me. And to be shared hereafter.


NOTE: To be read paragraph by paragraph, starting from the bottom end, para 1. Then 2 , then 3 – and so on to para 21 which will be the End.  This unusual format will be comprehensible by the end of reading .No more upright time to check details…









Goodly Female , still flicking off rainbow cosmic dust, stops muttering … gazes in the direction of Friends and Family … and steps firmly onto the Yellow Dust Road again.


“WELL! … JA WELL NO FINE …Close shave that time … shakes head … NAH, NAH … too quiet up there … and those sweet sickly harps , call that music ! … need some goodly African djembe rhythms …and where were they all I ask you … no friends or family … maybe there’s a secret enclosure for them … no Sibelius to wake everyone up … and for eons I’ve looked forward to  shaking his hand … (s/e) more muttering … and no BFG .. no Pied Piper .. don’t those guys know I’ve been telling all the children of the world ‘bout them and how great they are and how they should follow them to heaven and hell … NAH.NAH, not ready for that place yet …  time to move on …”


(s/e) sneezes …  cosmic dust spatters … stands upright … starts walking determinedly forward …opens mouth :


(s/e) … muted muttering … flicks stardust off white-turning-purple garment … muttering grows louder … more flicking off cosmic rainbow rays …female confidently pats earth-ground .. sighs … mutters … looks around expectantly …


(s/e) …whistling sound faint … becomes clearer ..louder …stronger …unidentified flying object hurtles downward at the speed of light .. . sudden earth landing, two feet appear, one female body above them …


…silence …deeper silence … more silence …


(s/e -sound effects) whistling air gets fainter and fainter …


LE GRANDE FINALE … Passport to Paradise. To Beyond beyond. To Onward Journeying. Deliciousness all the way ….


Ohhhh ..  Wowieeeeeeeeeeeee ….. I AM …the sound spreads from sky to sky as droplets of sound-air …….. wowieeeee infuses the world with happiness …….. fainter and fainter …….. smaller and smaller …….. until there is only movement of air in the spaciousness ….


She lets go , shot through with gratitude, floating up and up from her circle of family, friends, world,. Swooping up Jean’s Hill,. Eagle appears to lead the way. Owl appears on her right. Young Tiger on her left. Together the foursome soar up into infinite space above. Arms lifted, happy, carefree, trusting, companioned, she soars and soars – into the mystery. A speck. An atom. Ready. Willingly entering the ongoing journey.


Now they, closest in her life, rise from the earth to greet and accompany here – Cindy, Less, Charles, Maeder, Antony, mother and father, Gransie and Oudads. Together they form a great circle, hand holds hand, circling and circling like a flock of birds, in childlike fun, laughter and enjoyment.


Dipping in delight, this is an ongoing dance. Now she sees beloved friends who greet her, smiling, laughing, radiant in love and enjoyment. And children, the children, millions of children of the world. Playing, Unencumbered by hooks, darts, slings. She floats , riding the currents between them, a memoir of acknowledging, remembering.


Fairly flying now, she hovers within all these sources of strength and power, they  that gave meaning and wings to her life. That offered Spirits of Place, connived in the transference of Great Spirit, and transformed body, mind, psyche and soul


On she speeds, now dancing as her feet touch, in greeting, loved works of writers, poets, philosophers, artists, sculptors, ecologists, potters, bakers. Monet’s walls of lily ponds – Socrates dialoguing – John Singer Sergeant – Barry Lopez – Mary Oliver – Rumi and Hafiz – Charles.  Richness of music and art. Great educators


Through the great river of music, weightless, faster and faster she speeds, lifting herself beyond the streams of music to above the map of her wide-spreading world.. Airborne, she swoops along the old areas and historic streetways of Paris, hums a kiss toward specially loved places. She flies over the green parks and remembered ceremonious of London Town. The Great Mosque of Cordoba – the friendliness and spicy fragrance of Aleppo – the exquisitely beautiful and perfect Islamic shrines and mosques of Isfahan   –  fresh lemon drinks in Djemaa el Fna, Marrakesh – Whirling Dervishes and Bartabas in Fes – riding camel in Wadi Rum – climbing Mount Sinai – nibbling pastries and whispering with young Palestinians in Damascus’s Grand Mosque – Garden of the Beloved in Temenos – the veld, Hanglip Farm..

Ah but your world is beautful, she silently sings


Here is a wide river of sound.  Exhilirated and amazed, she runs among waves of Mahler, Sibelius, Messiaen, Arvo Part. Great Symphonies of romance and power. Sweet piano Chopin.  Bass chorales and choirs from Russia to Tibet. Pure flute.  Derek Gripper’s guitar playing Blomdoorns. Anouar Brahem’s oud summoning Le Chat Noir. Keith Jarrett. The swell and strength of melody and rhythm and a thousand and one musicians enfold her as her body resonates  in a harmony which is beyond comprehension, which is only pure feeling, is, perhaps, simply expression of angels, gods, goddesses. Is herself, expanded, vibrating, resonant, overflowing happiness.


Not so many, she thought, as she stood up , released them and watched them disintegrate in the wind. Her cloak itself unraveled and disappeared. Astonished, she saw herself in a white shift. Embroidered in vibrant colours of the rainbow – orange, red, yellow, green, blue, purple, indigo..

Light and free she steps off the Yellow Brick Road mirage. Turns to face west, the direction of completeness. Moves forward , slowly. A  gentle breeze propels from behind, she finds herself going faster and faster, the sound of music drawing her on.


She settled down where she was. Spread out her cloak and started unhooking the many strands of coarse thread that trailed behind, dragging and hindering her journey. One by one, carefully, in this great undoing, she disentangled herself from them. Some were quite short. Some had been part of her outer  garment . for many years  and were knotted and unclean. Carefully, too, she noted the namings. This one, the longest and drabbest: “Those who demanding one-way attention, without returning the favour” The Chatterers gobbling up precious time irrelevantly. The Arrogant who dismissed and disrespected all work other than their own. Thieves – stealers of her time and energy . Betrayers. Abusers of all kinds. The ugly black threads of the world’s inhuman Mankind who perpetrated war, massacre, killings, maimings, oppression.


That’s the patch then. Soft grass, invitingly shaded by  besembos. Facing east, the resurrection of Day. Quiet here in the veld. Peaceful, No sign of people. Far off, toward the kopjies, a herd of springbok – those most exquisite and elegant of creatures . Dungbeetles back-flipping their breakfast roll. Ants waving ant-to-ant communication. Fragrance of the veld as the sun warmed hardy and stoical bossies.  Silence. Spaciousness across to distant purple-tinged hills.


It had been some journey. Friendly, yes. Several major potholes and obstacles. Some rain but plenty of starlight. As she looked around for a soft patch of grass to sit, she remembered her beloved father hugging her and reminding her as she left South Africa to go skiing in Switzerland, ‘the same stars and sun that shine on you over there are the same as shine on us here. We are all and always in the same place and never lonely.’

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