There is no stillness in life

The morning is cool almost clear, quite crisp;

There’s a hint of mist on the calm sea.

Grey clouds muscle up above the island –

Gold rimmed as God looms over them

Surveying the creation, glowing heat and life.

sun clouds

 

 

 

 

The birds whisper: we all pause.

It is early and fresh and promising;

The beauty of the moment is short.

Another wishful dawn flowers.

Nothing stops until your own light sets.

AUSTRALIA DAY

Having grown up in  Africa with its history of different loyalties, ethnicities, languages and monarchs, it is refreshing to experience the casual pride and almost universal pleasure of Australians on the national holiday.oz-flops

The weather is invariably hot, so outdoor visits to bodies of water are mandatory. Beaches, rivers and pools are soon surrounded by near naked flesh and flimsy gazebos.

Childreniced beer.jpeg frolic and squirm away from suncream lotions and sun hats; adults expose their tattoos and drink beer from as soon as the tent is up.

Even the roads are relaxed and festive with a number of cars festooned with national flags, fluttering in the slipstream.

prawn ice bucket.jpeg
XXXX, Jimmy Barnes and iced prawns are the iconic choices of the majority.

The day is probably the best part of Straylya!

Goodonyer!

What makes me happy?

jumping-for-joy

The casual affection of a grandchild

The crooning of our puppy

Picking fruit from my fruit trees

My wife’s smile

The chatter of family at a braaivleis cold-beer

Songs that snare memories

The colours of new leaves … old leaves … most leaves

Condensation on a glass of cold beer

Chewing biltong

The call of the Piet-my-vrou

take-a-smile

 

What am I grateful for today?

The just enough breezebee-happy

The blossom bending under a bee’s knees

Our solitary pineapple

Doves cooing

The yellow green of leaves on the unidentified trees against the ever so slightly faded blue sky

The droop of the fuchsia

That I am far away enough not to smell the rotting fruit of the cherry guava tree.

The relative silence of obscure suburbia.

The pelargonium red that almost pierces my eye

The fat smile of the Buddha my son gave me

 

There are more – these are some I perceive from where I sit on my verandah at home.

choose-happy

Just another tequila sunrise

nasturtium-hybrid-colour

There must be a price to pay for a balmy spring, tequila sunrises, arrays of visiting parrots  and the clear, bright colours of the nasturtiums in our garden. I can’t get enough of the scenes, sounds and scents of this Spring.

Maybe my sense of awe is exacerbated by the banality of the national news. Last night we were treated to some variety  from the usual house fire, convenience store robbery and road crash,  – a story on the condition of city roads, which required 86 000 potholes to be fixed last year!

Spice is also provided on occasion with the mandatory attempts at courthouses to get a response from head shaven, tattooed bikies … are you sorry for what you did?zenasturtiums

I suppose it is a reasonable counter to the 20 odd years sprinkled with bombs and bodies before I left Africa

This sort of karma thinking is unsettling. How can life be so good for me when there are people being washed away in South Australia, blown away in Syria and unable to get any money to buy necessities in Zimbabwe.

Ice cream anyone? I’m afraid there’s only vanilla…

Please let there be no payback – I’ve been a good boy, really!

Let us give thanks and praise.

The Death Of A Tree

 

When I see a tree cut down
whose life was not yet done
I look upon it with a frown
and then look at the sun.
For the sun that nurtured every limb
and every leafy branch
has one less tree to care for
that never had a chance
to say to man
‘Don’t cut me down.
Don’t let me die.
Don’t let the sap
within me dry.’

For every tree that’s been alive
that’s grown upon this earth
is a gift from nature to us all
that’s always known its worth.
The problem as I see it
is man who cannot see
just what it probably feels like?
To be the cut down tree.

It took less than 20 minutes. A man with an orange vest and a chain saw climbed the 30 foot tree next door and sawed it down into mulcher size portions. I heard it grinding up all the good green stuff.
I also heard a sunbird trilling shrilly in dismay. Two other birds whose names I didn’t know, had to veer off in disarray after flying up to land and take a rest at a familiar spot,  then found it gone.
Where will bluebird hide or the pheasant coucal skulk?
It was evergreen and bore delicate mauve trusses of flowers which attracted honeysuckers and lorikiets.  I regret I didn’t know its name.

Bike Rides in the ‘burbs

I have been riding bikes for a loong time. At age  14, when helmets were unheard of, I fell off my first bike and landed on my head causing concussion which kept me out of school for a week. .

As I get nearer 70 the involuntary dismounts are more frequent, as confidence, strength and timing dwindle. I fell off again today because I dithered about turning into a path and did so too slowly … so ooover the handlebars I went!

yellow-faced-whipsnakeEarlier I had swerved around a snake which fortunately also took rapid avoiding action – a yellow faced whip snake, I think.

When I was stationed in Mtoko, Zimbabwe, I usually cycled to work on my trusty old bike, riding home for lunch. As I returned one afternoon, I met a group of men who were talking and gesticulating excitedly as I passed thempuff-adder. I didn’t take much notice.  I rounded the bend, and saw a  puff adder writhing about in the dust right in front of me.

Like a jack in the box, I rolled backwards off the bike, which fell over the snake. The men had broken its back with stones and left it. I managed to retrieve my bike and put the snake out of its misery and dispose of the body, so no-one else would have a near heart attack. Fortunately my undignified tumble and twitchy actions thereafter were
unobserved.

Some time ago, I arose at a virtuous 5 a.m. to go on my early morning ride. It was still dark at that time with only a faint glow peeping over the horison. My headlight batteries were expiring so it only emitted a glimmer.
Through the houses onto the path  down a hill to the creek, round a curve to the bridge – a wooden footbridge about 6 feet wide … to be met by a dog, which I swerved around, then its master who I missed, then his other dog who I skilfully avoided, feeling pretty … until the third dog loomed smack in front  … whump!! .. dog over the side and me over the handlebars! Fortunately dog OK and me just shaken (not stirred) – reassured to see it trot off (Staffie X) – it was a neighbour from down the street.
Getting too old for falling off bikes!!
cycle crash.jpg

 

 

They paved Paradise …

… and put up a parking lot.

So sang Joni Mitchell about beautiful Hawaii in her 1970 song ‘Yellow Taxi’.

That describes a bit of how I feel about Fraser Island. Going there and catching fish, enjoying the camaraderie of friends and the break from the home domestic regime was good; a rare experience to be treasured.

Fraser is a world heritage listed site: a 75 mile long sand island, girdled by wide sandy beaches and a sea full of fish. The middle bit is covered by Casuarina trees, natural bush, clay cliffs, sand dunes and freshwater lakesfraser20islandStreams and rivers of cold, clear, beautifully pure water flow over the beach to the sea  every few miles. And dingoes prowl the edges of camps.

Fishermen flock there especially from July to September: the tailor ‘run’. Shoals of that lovely swift, fierce, tasty fish spawn there in their thousands. Whales sail by, spouting and breaching; few boats are seen. It is not too difficult to catch a fish. The beaches are wide, one can camp almost anywhere at the back of the beach and the sand will yield clams and bloodworms for bait.

Here’s the rub: fishermen and campers love powerful 4×4 vehicles and many spend preceding months perfecting these mechanised marvels. They congregate in groups and tear up and down the beaches on the firm sands at low tide looking for good fishing or camping spots at speeds of 80 to 100 kph!  This is an almost continuous stream. Some tow trailers laden with camping and fishing gear. They are joined by special high power buses for backpackers who descend on the viewpoints in droves, before boarding and resuming the charge up or down the beach. At certain spots the sand is demarcated for landing strips for light aircraft which arrive in flights, full of sightseers.

I suppose that it is a symptom of modern-day life and I am flailing against a hurricane … but I don’t know if I wish to return there.common_dart

My fishing reputation was enhanced by catching one of the biggest tailor (about 2 – 3 kg) and a few Dart  which are a lovely fighting fish; surprisingly tasty too!