Category Archives: Traditions

Heritage

I have been reflecting on Heritage a lot this month. Heritage can be defined as something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor, something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth or simply, tradition.

As yet another Covid-19 lockdown forces me and mine into this weird isolation and I think about how to fill my time, I have baked and cooked and begun traditional prep of Christmas a lot earlier than I normally would. This is me falling back on family heritage, tapping into inherited ritual and tradition to help me feel anchored at this time of ongoing uncertainty.

Granny Sybil’s famous Christmas Mince.

I have been teaching online for the past 6 weeks or so. When I think about the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and its affect on this generation I worry about what they’ve inherited. Is it okay to spend this much time “online” to learn, to work, to socialise? While I can see how under these current circumstances it is better to have the technology than not, I do wonder what the long term outcomes of this will be on the emotional wellbeing of this generation.

Probably the biggest regret I have is that I am part of a generation who has left future generations a weary and depleted planet. Not completely broken, I hope, but thinking about heritage in this way keeps me highly motivated to make a change for sustainability in whatever ways I can.

24 September is an annual celebration of South African heritage. As a South African I have been profoundly influenced by my country’s natural and cultural heritage, for good and growth.

In a hopeful step, short term and long term, I have begun preparations to return to South Africa in 2022. I am thrilled to be joining the Rise of the Matriarch Expedition – an all-female adventure across South Africa to raise awareness and funds for the plight of Mama Africa’s wildlife. The ROTM crew will engage with local communities especially children on the human-wildlife issue and distribute Wonderful Wildlife Booklets (that I developed content for). We will connect with anti-poaching groups, visit conservation groups and schools, and meet with incredible women who are doing remarkable things at a grassroots level to assist in conservation efforts.

Ecowarrior and founder of the Blue Sky Society Trust, Carla Geyser, is the expedition leader of the 2022 Rise of the Matriarch Expedition .

In 2016, she led South Africa’s first all-female conservation expedition from Southern Africa to Kenya. They drove 15 787km over 100 days through 10 countries to help stem the tide of poaching. The crew of 13 “she-roes” raised nearly R300 000 for various conservation projects, drew widespread continental attention to elephant poaching crisis, distributed 20 000 conservation educational booklets to children and provided support to 37 wildlife organisations along the way.

In September 2018 she headed out again and lead another all-female crew. This time  across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to raise awareness about the contentious human-wildlife conflict. Another very successful Rise of the Matriarch expedition.

I joined Carla on a Journey with Purpose expedition in 2019 for a boots-on-the-ground experience with Elephants Alive. I can’t wait to get back on the road with Carla in her Landy, Dora, next year. #LadyinaLandy

And so, I introduce Pelo Tales. – my Heart Art fundraiser for this expedition.

“Pelo” is heart in Setswana.

My art is an expression of the deeply creative connection I have to pure spaces, to beauty and most especially to Nature. Each painting represents a Heart Moment and so a little Pelo Tale to accompany it.

This is a series of canvases I painted during Covid-19 related lockdowns in 2020. Having to make do with what I had to hand and in the spirit of sustainability, each canvas has been recycled. Perfect in their imperfections and certainly one of a kind.

All the proceeds from the sale of my Heart Art goes towards the Rise of the Matriarch expeditions 2022. More details on the fundraising side of things coming soon.

In the meantime, I will be sharing some Pelo Tales here over the coming weeks in anticipation of wonderful adventures to come and in the spirit of sharing the heritage I am so inexpressibly grateful for 🖤

Kindness

I have been learning a lot about kindness recently. I like to think I am kind. However, what I am beginning to realise is that I am kind usually when its easy or convenient. I find it easy to be kind to Nature as this is my strongest Value. I am mostly kind to those I know and love. Although I do think there are times when I am not as kind to those closest to me as I should be. Also, I feel like I can show kindness to individuals easier than to groups of people.

At present I’m in the middle of huge project, a steep learning curve. This is a chance to reinvent myself and truly change my career direction. If I get this right, a dream from my dream tin will come true. The personal stakes are high. Kindness towards myself has been essential.  But it turns out this is where I really fall apart in the kindness department.

My inner voice has been so critical, so judgemental. I wouldn’t talk to anyone like I’ve been talking to myself.

So I have had to stop and take a pause. Then get really introspective. I needed something visual to help me put kindness in some sort of perspective. This is what I came up with:

My take on kindness – a set of concentric circles with Me at the centre

It seems to me that kindness to myself establishes a strong core. If this kindness is sincere then kindness outward to kin, community, humanity and nature will be more authentic. Well, it is worth a try… but it certainly is a journey.

Getting prepared for Advent has been an appropriate time to spend on this sort of reflection. And funnily enough coincides with the arrival of #DoGoodDecember and a Kindness Calendar for the month of December from Action for Happiness.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I really have found the resources from Action for Happiness invaluable this year!

So we wind down this strange year and I set time aside from my project to focus on my Christmas rituals and traditions. One of my rituals is reflecting on the year just been and dreaming of the one to come.

I want to encourage anyone reading this of just how fallible we are when it comes to it. Fallible, and that is okay. Kindness, just like any other growth path, is something we have to choose anew every day. Thankfully, it is a grace-full universe.

The words of John O’Donohue continue to be a great comfort to me. This blessing in particular.

This is what kindness to myself looks like at the moment.

Whatever your beliefs or circumstances, I wish you space to reflect with gratitude and dream with hope. Happy Advent 🕯

Wanderings Day 27

Botswana Part 2…

Another set of pics remembering my time in beautiful Botswana.

Today I am thinking about the Botswana rhythm. There is a wonderful rhythm to the seasons and natural cycles. The flooding then drying of the Okavango Delta. The migration of the zebra and the elephant.

A time for marula trees to bear fruit which brings the elephants.

September is amazing…. a deep breath before the rains arrive. Unexpected flowers bloom. Babies abound – impala, lechwe, zebra.

January is prickly hot. But some afternoons turn black on the horizon and then the lightening and thunder and rain arrive. The cuckoos and Woodland Kingfisher call continuously. A good time to venture into the reeds in a mokoro hoping for a glimpse of the elusive sitatunga. At Xigera Lagoon the African Skimmers are nesting.

The people of Botswana have a rhythm too. A time to plant. A time to harvest. A time to move the cattle. A time to gather from the wild.

There is a beautiful kinship that weaves the Ba-Tswana together as a people but also connects them to this land. It was so easy to fall into this rhythm and be mesmerised by its beat.

Wanderings Day 11

I think my need to wander began as a girl. Growing up, my mom and dad organised wonderful family holidays that took us the length and breadth of South Africa. Often intrepid and roads less travelled, sparking a wanderlust that has remained with me.

These days I also have incredible memories of travels with my mom – just the two of us. So grateful to have had these opportunities with my very special mama bear.

Today’s wanderings takes on one of these “travels with mom” adventures in search of Middle Earth. She is very patient with me and my obsessions. This will make more sense as my story unfolds.

I have been obsessed with Professor JRR Tolkien’s writing for as long as I can remember. Then Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his Middle Earth. I think Professor Tolkien would have approved. Anyway, it has been fabulous to have Middle Earth on my doorstep.

Today I am sharing some pics from a Queenstown and surrounds trip with Mom. We found evidence of Middle Earth all along the way from the Fords of Bruinen to Isengard, Ithilien to Parth Galen, the Mountains of Mordor to the West Fold of Rohan. Magic!

Even if you aren’t in search of Middle Earth like we were, New Zealand’s South Island is simply spectacular. A true pure space. I love mountain environments probably more than being on the coast. Just as in the Kalahari, I am similarly inspired by changing light and colour in these stunning surroundings. And just like in the Kalahari, there is something of the serene juxtaposed with harshness in this space that captures the soul.

We visited Queenstown, Glenorchy, Paradise, Arrowtown, Wanaka and Cadrona among other beautiful South Island spots. Besides wonderful sights and scenery there also seems to be great coffee, food and wine to taste everywhere you go in this area. Mom even got me to go on a little horse ride with her in Paradise! The motivation? A chance of wandering through Lord of the Rings filming sites only accessible on said horse ride.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J R R Tolkien

Wanderings Day 6

Today’s wandering takes us to the other side of South Africa.  To Mpumalanga. 

Near Ohrigstad there’s a pass that winds up towards the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment – Robbers Pass. At the top of this pass there is a forestry track off to the left, hard to spot unless you’ve been there before.  Bump along this track through the pine plantation for a short way until you turn a bend and the whole valley stretches before you.  You have arrived at Themeda Hills Mountain Camp. 

Now I don’t know if it still operates anymore, but this spot has to be one of Mpumalanga’s best kept secrets.  My family have been visiting for years.  I can’t remember who found it first, but I definitely associate trips to Themeda with my Grandad Jim.

Eight little stone rondavels perch on the edge of the world here with simply spectacular views.  At a fairly decent altitude there is a distinct alpine tinge to the air and vegetation and the sometimes moody cloud.  Rondavel 8 is the best.  I saw my first African Crowned Eagle here. 

Words and photos do not do the magic of this pure space justice.

After losing yourself on top of the world for a little while, time to join reality again.  Down the other side of Robbers Pass you will come to Pilgrims Rest.  Two options from here. 

First, the road less travelled.  A dirt road the follows the Blyde River from its source near Pilgrims Rest as it ambles and meanders its way toward Bourke’s Luck Potholes

The second option is the more popular R533 to Graskop.  A stop at Harrie’s Pancakes before finding the R532 which will start you on the Panorama Route through the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve with lots of scenic stops like God’s Window, Lisbon and Berlin Falls along the way.

More of this Panorama Route tomorrow…