May Day!

 

Watch the video. It’s a miracle that our friends’, the Kapps, house is still there. The other homes are destroyed. Our other friends in Plett, the Uptons, were not so lucky. Their house was razed to the ground.

For my overseas friends, the southern and eastern cape coastline at the southern base of Africa is where we live. From Cape Town in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east is about 700 km. George is slightly more than halfway between Cape Town and PE.

The N2 route from George to PE is known as the Garden Route, not for nothing.It also carries the name of the Garden of Eden and the Eden Municipality.

Some of the most beautiful scenery in South Africa is found along the Garden Route – sea, mountains, forests, lakes, lagoons, elephants, rivers, beaches … whatever you can dream of is found there.

We have been experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory. This week the forecasters predicted a cold front with winds and rain – big storms!

We all geared up for that. But on Wednesday, the fires started.

The area between Knysna and Plett has been razed, as well as other spots along the coast.

It is a disaster.

Today is also Theresa May’s personal disaster in the British elections

But, as always, the good in man is extracted by the worst in nature.

I shall write more when I feel better …

 

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Jaaaa Boet!

Ja Boet!

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Monday 19 November 2012: 6 years 2 months on …

Physical: Advantage CBD / Mental: Deuce

On Saturday evening we attended a show in a 700-seater marquee at Grey called “Boet and Swaer” (Brother and Brother-in-Law). It’s a parody on South African life told through the eyes and in the accent of of two farmers from the Albany / Grahamstown area.

The show was preceded by the International rugby match between Scotland and the Springboks at Murrayfield in Edinburgh (which we won), followed by a dance ably discoed by Charlie T of AlgoaFM’s  DMB Morning Show and interspersed by a well-stocked Castle Corner.

Four years ago in 2008, I was at Murrayfield watching that game (which we won) with Barryvan der Vyfer, and his son and neighbour. I also bumped into MikeCarswell there who was head of Meriway House at Grey in my first year of teaching in 1984. I also attended the Old GreyDinner in London the following week. (This year’s dinner is scheduled for this coming Thursday evening – a gathering in central London for all the Old Grey’s who (tragically) now live in the UK.)

Two years ago in 2010, I was at OliverTamboInternationalAirport in Johannesburg watching that game on TV (which we lost) with friend AndrewJonker and his business associate. They were on their way to do business in Europe and I was on my way to watch the England / Springbok game at Twickenham the following Saturday (which we won), visit MikeCarswell in Dublin and to attend the Old GreyDinner in London.

Anyway, back to the show. It’s a good laugh at ourselves as “Souties, Dutchmen and Dlamini” South Africans and we need to be able to laugh like that sometimes. All the F words – after Ficksburg,  the floods and fires, farm and factory unrest, the Police Force and force, the Farlam Commission, the financial impropriety and woes of the President and his multi-million rand private house(s) and the falling rand of the last few weeks, we especially need to laugh – and we don’t need to use that F-Word to do that!

It’s been a long haul from Andries Tatane in Ficksburg in the Free State, through Julius Malema in Limpopo to Marikana in the Northwest, the farm violence in the Western Cape, Nkandla in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, the floods in the Eastern Cape, the President’s penis and E-tolling in Gauteng and on to Mangaung next month in the Free State.

Sometimes in Life it’s necessary to halt, take a long pause and ponder the options and way forward. Sometimes it’s necessary to take one’s head out of the sand, take action and to get involved.  

As Boet says, it’s in those moments (which the audience thinks are scripted but when you actually just run out of words and don’t know what to say and just ponder about what’s to come) when, like now, that you just say:

“Jaaaaaa,  Boet!”     (Yesssss, Brother!)

Earth Water and Fire

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 13 November 2012: 6 years 2 months on …

Physically: Advantage CBD / Mentally: Deuce

 

It was twenty eight years ago, in 1984, that I first visited St Francis Bay. A lot of it was just sand dunes then and a gravel road connected Humansdorp to the village and Cape St Francis. Indeed, most of the village roads then were also just gravel.

I had been invited to a “shack” at the river. Even then, the “shacks” were substantially more than “shacks” that I knew – not that I had grown up with much knowledge of holiday homes and homes at the coast. But, indeed, my idea of a “shack” was very different to what I saw there!

That was the beginning of my love affair with the Greater St Francis area.

 After we got married, we often went to St Francis for a “Sunday drive”. We looked at houses and dreamed of the day when one day we would also be able to afford a place – a very small one – there!

Then, we bought our first fractional title (timeshare) cottage at Royal Wharf and later our very own house in the complex. The boys got Rusk and learned to fish on the river and in the canals – later we got Rolls and learned to ski and wakeboard. We made so many lovely friends and neighbours – the Nortje’s, the Fouche’s, the MacAleenans, the Fishers, the Rishworths, the Kemps, the Finnemores, and the list goes on …

Over the years, the gravel turned to tar (alas, lately, as the potholes got bigger, the tar almost back to gravel!); the numbers increased; the waterways got longer; the “village” got bigger – almost a town, but we still called it “The Village”; the cars and the boats got bigger; the toys evolved from canoes to jet-propelled craft; the tin shacks that I knew increased greatly in number; and the black and white “shacks” got bigger and bigger and fancier and fancier!

Who can forget those lovely calm wind-still nights after a busy day in the sun and the water? The walking, the chatting, the tanning, the touch rugby, the beach cricket, the fishing, the swimming, the skiing, the surfing …

The smell of suntan lotion and the inevitable braai …

And what is St Francis without a braai!

As the sun set in the west, the fires were lit, the friends arrived and the beers were opened.  The sunburn in your skin glowed as much as the setting sun and the coals of the fire. The conversation lasted deep into the night …

“Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet” * … or Fortunas, Mercs, BMW, 4 x 4’s, Seadoos, Evinrude, Mariner, Honda or Mercury!

 I have written a number of blogs about my memories of St Francis – see Packing Up, The Bridge Over the River Kromme, Who painted the Moon Black.

We all know that for good steaks you need a good, hot fire.

Some of us don’t even refer to a braai any more – we invite the crowds over and say “Come for a fire tonight, or, let’s make a fire!” – we all know that means a braai for supper!

 And to build that fire, you need good kindling wood, good “doringhout”, good firelighters, good matches, good bricketts, and a good puff and a blow ( and, of course, the one cardinal rule of fire-making, the person to over-see the fire). Also needed, a bit of water or a drop of beer in case the flames got out of hand!

I guess ninety percent of a good braai meal lies in the effectivenss of a well-prepared fire.

And, all this time, knowingly or unknowingly, and with the benefit of hindsight, we have been building our very own St Francis “fire” there.

“Let’s make a fire!”

Just like we painstakingly build our very own home fires for a “good” braai, over the years we have built our St Francis fire in waiting.

Kilometres of dry thatch kindling, hundreds and thousands of wooden beams, hundreds of gas tanks for fire lighters and bricketts, a healthy strong westerly wind for a good puff and a blow and all just waiting for that good spark and match to set it all ablaze. (Of course, we neglected the cardinal rule of fire-making – at this time of the year, very few people to oversee the fire, and since the New South Africa, not even a properly-equipped fire-station or a supply of water with decent pressure to douse the flames!).

And so it was that on Remembrance Day, Sunday 11 November 2012, the “match was struck” and the fire took, and the fire took … a hundred homes, a thousand trappings and a million memories.

Yesterday, since selling our home there last year, I emotionally returned to Royal Wharf for the first time – where it all started.

The pictures tell it all.

No they don’t.

They never can tell it all, because we have so much tucked away in our earthly memories that only that “Last Fire” will be able to take from us. We will share those memories with our St Francis friends and our families, who, too, were lovingly and fortunately privileged to be forged around the fires of St Francis.

May I long be spared to see the New St Francis Marina arise from the ashes of the Old.

©Heres  to the New St Francis Marina – may long and hard thought go into its restoration and prevent it from being another fire place.

May I suggest a slogan and song for the rebuilding of St Francis” (and with apologies):

 “Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and St Francis Bay”

(This blog is dedicated to all who have lost so much material belongings in St Francis, but especially to our very special friends, Charles and Julie Nortje. We were the last guests to spend a night in your beautiful guest room and home. I look forward to being the first visitor at the housewarming of your new house!)

* See that nostalgic ad by clicking the link below!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1wvQ7ERXhY

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

or, in the words of Nici Lovemore, especially for St Francis Marina:

Lord, make me a canal of Thy Peace …