Monday, 29 August 2011

New Beginnings

Last week went by in a blur of shock and remorse over Tim's death, but after yesterday's memorial service I think many of us feel we can start to move forward again, which I'm sure he would have wanted. Local surfers also gathered together and paddled out to sea to form a circle formation and say their final goodbyes. It was a moving and healing occasion.
The Universe has thrown some serious life lessons our way this winter with Anna's accident and Tim's shark attack, that I am more than ready to learn it, get it and move on as a stronger and wiser person - hopefully.
The days are finally getting longer, pink blossoms are appearing on the fruit trees and we have started planting - spring is upon us! I have been toiling away in the soil with real purpose for the first time since the girls were born. And they let me. Its incredible how much they change in one short year. I am no longer interrupted, whined at or needed every 5 minutes as I'm trying to complete a task. Now they help me weed or plant until they get bored and run off to find something else to occupy them. They have even - quite regularly actually - disappeared for ages leaving me a little concerned, but when I go looking for them I find one drawing quietly and the other playing with her lego! I praise the Angels of Children when this happens and tiptoe quietly out of the house...
Its not that I want to avoid interaction with my children, but to see them gaining confidence and independence fills me with happiness as I think this phase takes longer for twins to get to than singletons, because they are born competing for their mother's attention and so it seems to become part of their normal behaviour. It is because of this demand, I believe, that it is such an exhausting experience raising twins in the early years.

As far as our planting plan goes. I have decided not to continue with carrots. I simply can't get them them to look like carrots! They come out all short, fat and nobbly. I think it has to do with the density of the soil, but I'm not bothered as my neighbour produces perfect organically grown baby ones that are flying out of my farm shop. Spinach is the most rewarding so far, after I let the worms have their fill, it recovers amazingly and keeps on producing beautiful shiny green leaves for ages- also flies out of the shop. So I will plant more and more, together with lettuce and rocket. Charles in in charge of tomatoes - he's an expert - and brinjals which we are dedicating a whole tunnel to. And I am going to keep producing little pots of herbs like origanum, parsley, basil and chamomile. Chamomile, for your info, is known as the "plant doctor" and is excellent to plant in and around your vegetables aswell as Marigolds ofcourse.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Shark Attack

An inevitable and shocking reality has come to pass. One of our fellow surfers was killed this morning by a Great White shark. Inevitable, because we see Great Whites all the time but we continue to surf our perfect break, so it is just a matter of time until one decides to take a bite. Shocking because we never really, really think it will happen to someone so close.
At about 9.30 this morning I heard the NSRI (National Sea Rescue) siren go off and my first thought was, "Where is Charles?" But he told me that he had a meeting after dropping the girls at school and I knew that he didn't have a kayak trip to run so I didn't give it much more thought, other than a vague hope that it wasn't anything too serious.
Then I got a facebook message from a friend in Holland (of all places!) asking about the shark attack. What shark attack? And I brushed it aside. Then I got an sms from a friend saying "Thinking about you and Charles." Well I just about lost it in that moment. I couldn't dial Charles fast enough.
He answered. It wasn't him. It was Tim, our good friend and fellow surfer.
Charles watched from the viewpoint above the break as the shark knocked him off the board and pulled him under. He screamed for help.
"I couldn't do anything except wait until I could do something," said Charles.
The rest of the surfers in the water began to flee as Tim was washed towards the beach on the other side of a strong rip. Charles tore off his clothes, grabbed his board and ran, in his underpants, to the water. He managed to get to him quite quickly, but said he was losing it fast and his eyes weren't focusing. His leg was badly bitten. Another surfer helped Charles get him to the rocks, by which time the NSRI arrived. They resuscitated him twice but sadly he had lost too much blood and passed away in the hospital shortly afterwards. We are ever grateful and proud of our NSRI team who worked so quickly, professionally and hard to save Tim's life.
This has rocked our world of surfers, mothers, wives and friends. We live in a small town where everyone pretty much knows everyone. And as I drove down Main Street this morning to meet Charles, I could feel the shock and sadness that had come to settle over our community.
We will always remember Tim as the warm, kind and gentle person he was. May his soul be at peace and the waves of forever break with eternal perfection.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Food for the Soul

One cannot underestimate the value of a few days in the bushveld. Without kids.
Of course towards the end, I started to miss my girls and couldn't wait to see them again but for the rest I completely indulged in having my own time, thoughts, adult conversation and my husband all to myself. Most refreshing of all was being reminded that we are still in love and get along rather nicely in fact.
My brother, who has been involved in wildlife conservation and the safari industry for many years, organised us a private tented bush camp which we shared with him, my parents and other family. There truly is nothing that causes me to relax more instantaneously than being miles from civilisation and listening to the distant calling of lions while drinking good red wine around the campfire.
Ofcourse I am aware of the fact that this is an extremely privileged experience, one which many will never get to have, but one which I, because I can, will continue insisting on for the rest of my life.
The freezing mornings begin at dawn with coffee and rusks before heading out on an open landrover to spot whatever game is still out and about before the African heat drives them into shady hiding places. I missed the first morning's drive after having being up all night with a bad stomach but on the next morning I was lucky to see the same lactating female leopard everyone had seen the morning before. She came "leopard crawling" behind the landrover, in a stealthy attempt to catch a young kudu calf. The kudu mom saw her though and alerted the baby, which went springing into the thick shrub for safety, leaving the leopard to slink back to her den of cubs emptyhanded. Win some, loose some. Life is simple.
Ofcourse our time came to an end far to soon and I fantasised that the perfect holiday would be for the parents to go ahead and have a few nights to unwind, catch up and kiss a bit and then send for the kids to share the rest of the time as a family...
We are home now, back on our beautiful farm where the children and animals adore us. It's nice to be reminded of this sometimes. Our faithful helping hands kept the wheel turning and my mother-in-law handed over the twins with an exhausted, "thank God you're back" smile.
The girls have behaved beautifully so far, or is it just my renewed sense of patience that is lightly to be worn thin again by the time we get into the car for school tommorrow?
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Times Gone By

There has been a photo printing special running in town which prompted me to finally organise and edit our family pics - which I realised haven't been printed since before the girls 2nd birthday and they are nearly four! 
Its been quite an interesting project and a little trip down memory lane. As cliche as it sounds, time really does fly - especially when you have kids. I can't get over how much they grow in two short years. Where have my babies gone? To be honest I started to feel quite tearful looking at the photo's, hoping I was present enough in all those special moments. Most likely, while snapping a shot of happy carefree kids at the beach, I was thinking about hurrying them along for bathtime or some other mundane routine exercise. Luckily photo's give us a chance to relive those moments that may have slipped us by and provide a lovely montage of a life well lived - whether that is the actual truth or not is up to one's state of mind at the time...
So here's a "lovely montage of a life well lived" made up of some of my favourite shots: