Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Shop.

I have always wanted a shop. It's in my blood. My Great-Grandfather had a wagon-making business in Elim. My Grandfather had a general dealers in the Eastern Cape, called Rademeyer & Saffrey. My Great Aunt Lil had Haskings Bottle Store and Tobacco Depot. I loved the smell of those cloth bags filled with Boxer Tobacco.
So, the other day, I opened a shop. It's virtual for now (though it lives in my head in sparkling technicolor... and is packed away in my
Grandfather's wardrobe).

And who knows...
the way to climb a mountain and all of that.
Horror Vacui  - the shop to fill your empty spaces.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Magnolia Tree Next Door.

Magnolia grandiflora or Bull Bay.

Beloved by songbirds. The seed is enclosed in a bright red, fleshy aril with a high fat content. It provides migrating birds with much needed energy as they fly South.

Beloved by the birds and wildlife that stay behind, as they find shelter in it's dense green foliage.

Beloved by the beetles who pollinate the flowers. A food source high in protein. Pollinated by beetles, because these trees have been around for twenty million years, long before the birth of bees.

Beloved by me, when I laugh at the capers of the squirrels as they bounce from branch to branch. I look down at the tree from the window in my bedroom and see the pointed buds form. I am astonished by the blossoms as they unfurl to the size of dinner plates. One flower perfumes an entire room. A fallen creamy petal carries the scent. Even this seed cone is fragrant in a woodsy kind of way.

Magnolia Tree!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Keepsake #6.

My mother gave me a very special gift today, she gave me my grandmother's engagement ring. Still in it's original box from Ritter's Jewellers and Watchmakers, Port Elizabeth & Grahamstown.
Oupa and Ouma were married in 1932. He was a bookkeeper from Prince Albert, she was secretary to the town lawyer in Humansdorp, Mr. Jones. Oupa walked past Ouma on the street one day and said: "That's the girl I'm going to marry."
He died in 1964, but Ouma wore his ring until the day she died, aged 85. I remember her taking it off in the kitchen and at night before bed.

Peter James Marx and Eva Annie Haskings, my grandparents.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bitterly Pleasant.

In fields next to the road from Cape Town piebald ponies roll in deep green grass. Sheep wade stomach-high. After Hermanus it's rolling hills of wheat stubble and fynbos. In Arniston the children play on the streets after dark. We drink a beer at Willeen's and stumble home. 

Every day there are walks to be walked and beaches to be combed. In Agulhas the people name their houses things like Bitter Aangenaam, Mamma Moan and Pondjie Botter. We contemplate the Southernmost Point of Africa, climb the lighthouse ladders. No-one wears a watch.

In the ruins of an old cottage off a gravel road, there are drawings of cars and muscle men. A child has written: I was born in the garden of even blood...

Sleep here is a gentle affair, with waves crashing in the distance, fire sighing in the grate and crickets chirping under the window. And sailing in the skies - alongside a Perigee moon: the constellation of Hydra the giant water snake and Carina, the mystical ship.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

While you were sleeping.

When I don't have to get up for work at the crack of dawn, I slip easily into night owl mode. After midnight all I hear is the sound of rain on the skylights. These hours lend themselves to writing and thinking, sorting and grading. Over the course of the last two years I've taken some 6000-odd photographs. Some of them are here. ( Wishbone: a documentary work in progress. )