Archive for the ‘Marguerite van der Merwe’ Category

Early morning risings
in the rolling hills of Natal
cows munching , calves raising eyes
as I step outside the kuti
Light rises steadily
greeted by His Serenity though
why his why not a her
veil of grassy trees
I am the only human risen
monkeys still dozing in the highest branches
we – Serenity, the stones, rocks, grasses, flwoers and leaves –
are the Meditators
just moving quietly, consciously
through a sleeping world..
Why would I choose to sit inside, instructed to silence and all that non-thinking meditation stuff when I can consort and cavort with the indigenous hyacinths, His Serenity,  and such beauties!

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Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 7:02 PM

Hi Marguerite,

Ive just had a look at the Writersblog site which Margie told us about last evening. Its a wonderful forum and such beautiful, moving and thought-provoking writings. Ill be following it regularly and wish you all well.

Greetings and good wishes,


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The doorbell rings. We have known Alfred and Lina for nearly two years now. He and Charles discovered, in passing conversation at a building site one day, that they both grew up around Mooi River, Natal. Are both ‘Zulus’. When their shack in Kleinmond’s ‘informal settlement’ (read: squatter camp) burnt down, we helped with purloins, roofing materials, odds and ends.

  Of course they lost everything.. Have you even been welcomed into a home where there is only a make-shift half-drum for cooking and one lumpy old mattress?

  Today Alfred comes for help in filling out an application for temporary work with the Municipality in the cleaning services. With the large and continuing influx of people in search of work in this area, and the downturn in construction, his work has become less and less. They haven’t earned in a while.  They barely live from hand to mouth. He asks for money for food. For paraffin for cooking. One cabbage at home. He can buy a packet of dog’s bones at the Spar for R5 or R6, he says.

  Food for them is a daily, weekly, yearly life struggle. Food is not  ‘have’ but a ‘have-not’ and ‘have-not’ means living at the constant edge of hunger, starvation, begging,  Food is a call for help, care, support ad recognition of common humanity.

  What do you feel when you have to look this person, without food, in this situation, in the eye? There may be millions of people without sufficient food to live , year in and year out, but you are the one standing in front of Alfred and Lina.


We switch on the television. Food flows in many channels – recipes, lifestyle, travel, famous chefs entertaining, whipping up taste, status and desire buds. We walk into a bookshop. Shelves of cookbooks by the dozen – glossy, expensive, beautifully produced for housekeepers to salivate over and then place where they  can be seen. Magazines featuring domestic goddesses socializing through creative dinner parties.

Food feeding those who have much. Who can use and misuse the fruits of the earth in accordance with a lifestyle moulded by fashion and the urban consumer culture. Shielded from reality, living  in illusion. Over-consumption. Conspicuous wastee.


Obesity. The slimming industry. McDonalds. Weight problems.. The anorexics, the bulimics, the many for whom food is compensation, weapon, duty, ingratiation, addiction, de-stressor, social asset, psychological satisfaction or dissatisfaction.


Sustainer of life. Earth’s abundance gifts. At root, the product of Nature and its elements.


Territorial imperative. All living creatures moving in search of daily food. Simple survival. Staking out feeding territory. Defending territory. Fighting outsiders for the right to eat and live.


Health. You are what you eat. Too many people on the planet. Polluted waters, atmosphere, soils. Finding healthy nutrition. Shutting eyes to waste, consumerism, advertising, packaging, cold rooms and other known and unknown predators of quality.


What you can afford. What your body needs at different stages of your life and age. Sensitising and reading your own body to reveal exactly what and what not food/eating is right for you.


The Art of Food. The Art of Eating. The place of food in the Art of crafting a life of Beauty, Truth and Goodness. Food offering the richness of colour, texture, taste, the senses, enjoyment, satisfaction, fulfillment, quality. Food offered with an artist’s sense of design and elegance.

Food offering the simplicity of pure livingness. Put together and eaten with respect for the gifts of daily life-sustenance,, the gift of creator, the gift of s/he who offers this. In a rich simplicity, sensing the intimacy of self and of life on Earth.


Yes, Food in all these aspects is a cornucopia. Food IS. Food sits in the rhythm of each day’s survival, each day’s work and play. Begging the questions: Have I enough? Have I too little? Have I too much? Do I consider food and my way of eating as an aspect of our human evolutionary path? Can I discriminate between what is healthy and what is not healthy – for me? For my nearest and dearest? How shall I choose to eat, pray and love?

May we all enjoy the abundance of sweet chocolate and riotous wine. And the enough-ness of bread and cheese. And may we ever wrestle with the realities of the too little and the too much. ‘Enough was always Enough” (RUMI).

Love and may your food bless and be blessed!


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That democracy doesn’t survive

That self-regulation is the answer

That individuals, communities and nations must be held responsible for their own actions

That the body politic will be governed by leaders chosen and trained by a way still to be discovered

That the ages of socialism, communism, and democracy will pass away But that the age of humanity will last long


That the Enlightenment will return That there will be a new Renaissance

That Romantic Love is restored along with knightly conduct and a lady’s favours.

That exclusive religions will fade away and be replaced by ethical principles morality. and justice

That humankind will accept that Spirit, Soul and Creation are unknowable

That Goddess, Creatrix are rightful aspects of the sacred as are God, Creator

That Spirit is beyond all words, definitions, analysis and that we would do well to abide in openness to the deep and subtle calls of the soul



Women will rule

Men will always wage war

The young will respect the old And the old respect the young


That Children ARE angels

And play is the thing

Maybe Love is the solvent In the end


That people are not equal

That human nature is not able to live in freedom, co-operation, communion

That the great French motto of Liberty Equality Fraternity should be revised so that Fraternity, first, will lead us to Equality and Liberty

That communities will need to embed rules of conduct and relatedness for the common good

That people should be taught and forced not to litter, spit, shout, harass, rage, kill, despise, despoil, oppress but to abide by the ten commandments of all religions

That people should be educated in what NOT to do in return for freedom


That cars and aircraft should be cursed as noise-polluters, space-polluters, lethal weapons

That public transport will replace individual motorized vehicles

That donkeys increase their shareholding on earth along with bicycles, roller blades, canoes

That legs and feet will not become obsolete

That horses will regain their rightful place of divinity

That future modes of transport are silent and safe, powered by renewable resources

And not owned by the rich


That poverty will always be part of group life

That it brings forth strengths of its own

That the rich will ever get richer and the poor poorer

That wealth and leisure are as necessary to society as simplicity and work

That envy, greed and power are but the shadow side of goodness and mercy

That we need more angels and more law-enforcers

That the strong will always exterminate the weak in the service of survival and evolution

That life is to the courageous and evolves to the intelligent


That the workers do not earn the good life but that musicians will

That politicians and philosophers do no comprehend what is as truly as artists do

That royalty will return to favour and there be educated leadership

That societies will value their teachers above politicians and priests

That education will be the greatest portion of any community’s effort

That schooling will not be for knowledge alone but to bring forth truth and integrity and responsible stewardship

That creativity and intuition will be as respected as intellect

That books and reading will outlive television and storytellers and minstrels return

That children will be taught obedience because life is as much about what is, as what one does

That we learn that life does not necessarily deliver that which we wish or approve


That Nature‘s power, energy power, esoteric power, cell power will drive that which needs to be driven

That man-made materials may save the planet

That new inventions will remedy problems for which we see none, now

That Nature will survive all human depradation, will eliminate, adapt, survive

That the Earth will change existing life forms in order to do so

That man’s ingenuity and intelligence will solve the world’s great crises

That technology will serve us well

That information will not delete our capacity for thinking

That medicine finds tools that are non-toxic, non-invasive


That macadamized roads should not cover the earth

That cities should have great plant-ations

That flowers need space, nourishment, and care as much as any other species

That trees do serious duty as mediators of weather, climate, clear air, clear skies

That bees should not be boxed and carted off to pollinate distant orchards

That the variety of species is crucial for survival of all

That the expanding size of the human species is the greatest danger we face

That scientists will be the ones talking to flowers growing their own cabbages and singing to the stars


That wild animals will be saved from extinction

That Insects should be allowed their life passage not exterminated on sight

That ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches and midges should return to our gardens, homes and streets

That animals should not be domesticated, fondled kept in apartments, dressed in ribbons

That we will learn from the animals about true family bondings, territoriality and survival


That we will learn humility and cast aside greed

That women will regain their place of honour in society and home

That the qualities of the feminine will become operative and suffuse all living

That there will be an end to gender competition and aggression

That men and women will live in mutual acceptance and co-operative strength

That Institutions based on control and power will wither and die


That rights cannot work without responsibilities

That children must have discipline as well as freedom

That adolescents will be guided and mentored through this difficult phase

That young men will be given worthy challenges and achievements, Training in leadership and citizenship

That young girls will not be exposed to exploitation of innocence

That sexuality loses its violence and manipulation Becomes a rich resource for intimacy and truthfulness

That artists, musicians, dancers, performers will show us how to live

That Clowns will teach us how to survive


That society’s evolution will move on from the phase of power and corporate control

That financial institutions will die out

That the media will become positive and not sensationalist

That paparazzi will disappear as a species.


That humans will learn to live truly interdependent and interconnected with all In the web of life

That Nature will prevent human destruction of the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms

That this civilization will not survive Will, simply, also pass away


That justice will rule

Leaders will lead

Mentors mentor

Mothers mother

The Earth continue to turn on its axis

And the sun survive our lifetime.

That we hear the stars sing

That we honour the songlines of our creation

That we learn to live in interconnectedness and compassion

That we realize we do not know everything

That we will all be searching & listening co-operatively for the whispers of angels, gods and goddesses and our own intelligence.

April, 2007

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Easy walking today – mostly farm roads and not through rough and tough, scratchy, veld. But long – perhaps a three-hour ramble.
Backpack does a walker’s duty with water, hat, camera, apple, pencil and paper. Two sheepdogs companioned me yesterday – today I sneak out without them. Gives me more freedom. Don’t want them disturbing sheep during lambing, chasing buck, dassies, meerkats
Feet greet the earth road at a half past seven of a crisp morning. The old windmill is quiet behind the Great House – no wind yet. A single car passes me on the main road to Hantam Trust School – inmates look puzzled to view this elderly female foreigner traveling on two feet to goodness knows where. I wave. They stare.
Onto the Poortje road and along the river. Old, old willow trees, tall, spring-green and weeping, grow on the banks of the river which sometimes flows, sometimes dries up leaving hosts of fish heads and bones in the dry watercourse. Tamarisks are pink-tinged and feathery. It is October and new reeds are emerging green.
The road is straight. A clapper lark whirs up and dives down – again and again in mating call. A korhaan crackles. I search the wide flat landscape for yesterdays’ twin blue cranes, but they have stepped majestically on. The pair of springbok though, suddenly appear in my line of sight, bounding through the fence and across the road to disappear camouflaged in the dry grassland. I’m told that the white tail opened in pronking releases a sweet honey fragrance that San hunters could smell from far, far away – a sure guide for their days-long hunting.
Porcupine quills scattered roadside – looks as if this quill-shooting party came worse off in the encounter. I gather a good fifty, hide them in a bush to retrieve on my way back home. Veld becomes stonier, the grass drier, giving a lovely soft, low, all-over shading for miles of flatland. Kopjes and mountains in ranges in all directions. Chippings of ironstone strewn along my way.
Over the randje a young lamb rests in the road, mother sheep nibbling nearby. Lifting her head, she suddenly sees me, summons the young one and they trot determinedly away.
Through the first farm gate, an intricate undoing of chains and wire netting. Old iron and metal lies around in the veld for decades – no fear of rusting in this dry world. Near the sinkdam is a willow – there must have been water around here at some time. Under its shade, I perch on a fallen willow trunk, sip healthy Karoo water, and rest, gazing around in the cool morning and ever within the Karoo’s awesome hum of silence. Tiny unnameable l.b.j’s flit from bush to bush. A couple of bright yellow masked weavers are landing and taking off in the branches above me.
Not sight, sound or smell of humans for miles around.- I exist in the awesome spaciousness, richness and peace of the Karoo’s emptiness.
Six kudu have been sighted in these hills, arriving from who knows where – fences mean naught to these antelope-athletes. Nor to the dozen springbok just sprinting across the veld. Will I be the lucky one to catch sight of them?
On my right, the fence separating sheep off the hills dotted with green besem-bossies – an indication of the presence of tiny brown paralytic ticks which can kill stock within days. Paralysed, they simply cannot get up and so die. Farmers can dose against the tick – but that kills the dung beetles so necessary for good veld management. So, when resident ‘vermin’ – jackals mainly – who naturally limit their kills to a sustainable-only basis, are killed or poisoned, the roaming rogue jackals passing or testing their luck through a farm, will massacre sheep indiscriminately. Farmers must make these choices.
Accounts of yesterdays’ farm activities sit with me – the highs and lows – all happening in the peace and tranquility of wild places. First up was news of a porcupine which bit through buried black plastic pipes to drink at the water – and all the water from the dam to the flock of sheep and lambs, runs out. Good fortune: the men on horseback checking the camps spotted the dampness and a strong young previously unemployed Stanley has several months work picking up stones from the veld to cover all exposed pipes. A new role for low stone wall creations. Six dams cover the camps, filled by 12 windmill pumps, allowing long flexible pipes to snake kilometers far to the stock. Pure survival.
Lambing date for hundreds of pregnant ewes is precise – 20 September. Yet this year the ewes drop on their young on the 8th and all other planned farm work must be adapted to see to the newborns and their mamas.
Three men on three horses round up 500 woolly mouflons in Potbergg camp. Separate moms from lambkins. Separate skips – those who have missed the ram. Separate still-suckling moms with milk-filled udders. Mark each ewe with red or blue on the forehead to indicate age and status. Count each group. Three men on three horses saddle up and herd the bleating stock into the next camp. All in a morning’s work.
On my left now as I tramp the dusty road, stand fulsome green bushes, sign of a very old watercourse fed by a spring ahead at the boundary of three farms. Which sometimes fountains and sometimes not. Today is a not. At the gap between two ranges of hills, is the spring itself. An old pear tree and several willows announce its headwaters. Sam, now in his 90s, who worked on this farm all his life, from his young years, remembers there was a shepherd living there – which would be around 1910 – and had been before his time. Low stone kraal walls are still there. Possibly graves.
Climbing through the fence with its beautiful scarified sneezewood posts, I go to pay respects to the magnificent pear tree of old and tall stature. And am rewarded by chancing upon not only old stone kraal walls, but the largest piece of old willow-pattern china I’ve yet found – six centimeters in diameter – lying exposed between thorn bushes. I wonder about the shepherds who lived isolated here in the veld so long ago .
Also at the head of the spring in the gap between the hills, is where the old trek road passed. In a direct line from hills to the south, farmers, wagons and stock carved their ponderous way northwards to freedom.
I cut across country now to my destination – the new dam atop the hill which gives me good elevation to capture on camera the vast expanses of Karoo veld – range beyond range of hills fading to a hazy purple, jutting up into the vastness of this entirely blue sky. Three sixty degrees semi-desert uninhabited ( by human) nirvana.
A drink of sweet water, purest of the purest, from the water trough, and I pick my way carefully down the hill. There’s the pipeline to follow – carrying water with the natural fall of the land, to sheep and cattle miles and miles away. There’s also a dry stream bed for easy walking. I look carefully as this is the kind of shale where fish fossils millions of years old have been found. Not today. Not by me.
What a world this is. Saturated with past and present, history and geology, family and veld – for one who loves it.
And now the dusty homeward meander, retrieving porcupine quills en route – in time for a feet-washed, feet-up lunch. Four hours after hitting the morning road.

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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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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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