Saturday, 17 November 2012

Living in Paradise

It's just a year ago that we packed up and moved to Zululand.  The move happened so quickly, that I didn't have time for regrets, only a sense of adventure and excitement.  In between settling down in my new position and getting to know the people, was the strangeness of feeling like it's always holiday time.  The beach is just 5 minutes away and our new home has a view over Lake Mzingazi.

The sky has a special hue at the coast and whether it's sunny or overcast seems to glow with a deep colour in shades of blue or grey.  Last week, there was a double rainbow across the road and I was reminded that God promised Noah that He would never destroy the world by flood again.  I remembered those words when the hospital was put on disaster alert with the cyclone!

 There is something special about being able to go to the beach for a picnic after work.  Each Wednesday we are greeted with the "Dawn Patrol" of mongoose and monkeys who know that we will all be putting out our dustbins.  Easy food supplies for them. They crash on the the roof and leap into the trees if we wave at them.  They cheekily lift the dustbin lids up and check the contents, not even blinking of you shout at them!  The mongoose are more skittish and dash off into the bushes at the slightest movement.   We have had an uninvited monkey thief who, taking advantage of the open window, crept inside and ate all the food in the kitchen leaving the dregs and handfuls of  flour spread all over the place!  You only leave windows open once!

Weekends are full of activity with new and exciting places to discover around every corner.  iMfolozi-Hluhluwe has become a favourite and we always see a lot of elephant and rhino, and until now have had to be content with our friend's stories of lions and leopards! An early start on a Saturday morning and we soon have coffee and rusks at the riverside.  Here we have seen elephant, lion and buffalo all at the same time!  A choice of routes, either the grasslands or the rolling hills where King Shaka used to hunt, and a slow drive takes us to the lunchtime picnic site.  The wide open spaces of the game reserve always calm body and soul.

St Lucia is an equally special place to visit and each time we go, we find another treasure.  Getting up really early to catch the sunrise on the beach was worth it.  I got lovely photos for my photography course homework, with the cry of the Fish Eagle and the hippo grunting in the background.  The drive through iSimangaliso Wetlands Park always brings a surprise. This time it was big purple waterlilies along the main road, after the recent rain, with the brightly coloured African Jacana tiptoeing carefully among the leaves.  The warthogs were huge, running through the grass with their tails high in the air.  We even saw buffalo and rhino along with waterbuck, commom duiker, red duiker, zebra, kudu and impala. 

 The early mornings are best for exercise, it's cool (important when cool means 25 degrees C!) and the sun comes up fast, sending pink and orange fingers of colour into the sky.  The birds are at their best, serenading the day with whistles and chirps.  We've get to see the yellow billed kite fly across the sky and hear the cry of the fish eagles who nest across the water.  I just know the day will be great when I see the Long Crested Eagle sitting on the lamp post as I drive to work.  He keeps silent watch on the commuters as we dodge and weave past the pots holes and road works.  In the evening he's still there - although in a different spot!

"The Lord will work out His plans for my life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever." Psalm 138:8

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Story time after school.

I squirmed on the seat of my school desk.  It was nearly time to go home and waiting was agony.  Thursday was always a day to look forward to because when school finished, we would walk home and then it would be story time!

Finally the bell rang and I ran out of the classroom clutching my small suitcase.  Eagerly I searched the row of mothers waiting at the school gate.  There she was and there was Colin coming to the gate running from his classroom.  We set of on the walk home in the warm sunshine.  Kim sat in the pram with George standing at the back.  Lynn went to a different school and would meet us at home.  I skipped along chatting to mommy about the school day and all the new words we had learnt.  Colin scuffed his school shoes in the dust as we walked.  Boys!

The walk home was downhill past the fire station, where we had Sunday School and the veggie shop.  My mother is tall and very beautiful.  Her hair is a funny red colour and short.  Mommy says the hairdresser deserves to be shot for making her hair such a terrible colour.  She hates how her ears stick out, but I like it.  Short hair is so cool and modern, but mom won't let me cut my long thick hair.  I ask every day when she combs the knots out.  Those big ball-like knots that make your eyes water when pulled by the comb.  Mom says I must play soccer in my sleep.

I play hop-scotch on the pavement squares, careful not to touch the lines.  We stop to peep in the window at the sweets in the corner cafe.  Chappies, suckers and round coloured balls on small glass shelves.  No stopping today.  We've passed the shops now.  We just need to walk past the garden with the fairies, go around the corner and then we're home.  I wonder what we'll have for lunch?  "Quietly now", says mommy, "We have to tiptoe or we'll scare the fairies and then they'll fly away." " If we're very quiet", says mom in a whisper, "we might see them playing."  We walk slowly and quietly along the grass pavement. I balance carefully, like they taught us at ballet and softly tiptoe to the edge of the garden.  Slowly I peep through the trees and look as hard as I can.   There under the flowers I can see something bright and shining like a jewel.  It must be a fairy wingtip.  Mom saw it too, but just then Colin clapped his hands to chase them away!  

The fairies are gone.  I am so furious, all the boys think about is space and astronauts since they got those spacesuits for Christmas.  I giggled remembering how they fell out the tree trying to fly like the men on the moon.  Kim is trying to climb out her pram and I tickle her and forget about being cross.  Colin is showing George some treasure that he in his hid in pocket.  It's a hairy caterpillar that he found at break, but now it's all squashed.  Ugh!  

Here we are, around the corner and there is our house.  Number 26 Prince Albert Street, phone number 26 2083. We have to remember the address in case we get lost.  Then we can tell a nice policeman where we live so he can bring us home.  Grandpa is a policeman, a detective.  But you mustn't talk about it because then the crooks will try and find him.  

I like coming home, the hydrangea bushes in the front are full of blue flowers. Mommy likes flowers and we water them every day.  She says being in the garden is her relaxing time.  Now we are going to have lunch and then after our sleep, it's story time!  I hate sleeping in the afternoon.  That's for babies like Kim and I'm a big girl now.  Mommy says we have to sleep so that we are awake to plays games when daddy gets home.  I don't want to sleep....

Mommy wakes us all and we quickly find a spot to sit in the lounge.  Mommy sits in the big armchair with Kim on her lap.  We all find a space on the carpet, not too far away so we can see the pictures in  the book.  The carpet is red and scratchy, but nobody notices because the story has started. We are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, just like  "Little People's Playtime" on the radio.  I like listening to mommy read, she uses funny voices, a deep lion voice for Aslan and a high squeaky voice for Mr Thumnus.  It's cold in Narnia.  But be quiet now and settle down  because mommy is reading.  I drift off through the wardrobe to Narnia.  

It is quiet now, too quiet.  The story has stopped. Oh no,please read another chapter!  But that will have to wait until next week.  

Saturday, 19 May 2012

A new journey begins.

A secret smile, a hidden joy.  The longed for pregnancy was real.  She wanted to savour the excitement a bit more before sharing it.  First with her husband and then the soon-to-be grandparents and friends.  She just knew that everyone could already see the change.  Didn't she already have a small bump?

Change began it's relentless journey as the child within her brought amazing physical and spiritual changes to her body.  Isn't it incredible to think that God has planned each child's life before their birth.  He makes each person unique, knitting them together in the secret warmth of the mother's womb.  (Ps 139:13, 15-16 and Jer 1:5) But some of these changes weren't that pleasant as morning sickness become the focus of the early morning.  Nothing seemed to take it away.  But the gentle caring of her husband made the days pass swiftly.  

Then one day, that tiny little flutter.... tiny feed kicking out, soft as a tickle.  A gentle caress, a precious moment to savour and remember. The eagerness to share the excitement with her mother.  Joy burst forth as she sang to herself.  Sang to the unborn child growing and changing within her.  

It was fun buying new furniture and preparing the baby room.  There was much laughter as the accent yellow colour, specially chosen  for the feature wall  was a perfect match for the pale yellow colour on the opposite wall! The window was framed by cheerful curtains with clouds and rainbows. A safe place for a tiny baby to sleep and dream.  A large cot stood waiting, empty, except for the fluffy toys that seemed to multiply with each shopping trip made by grannies-to-be and friends.  "I couldn't resist, it was soooooo cute!", they all said. Tiny baby clothes were washed with care and folded neatly in the cupboard.  Knitting needles clicked as the grannies and aunties made small jerseys in soft white wool.  

Late night discussions, sharing hopes and dreams, took place while the small growing baby kicked and wriggled.  What name to choose, one for a girl and one for a boy.  This was the time before everyone had a scan and knew the babies sex before the birth.  Her clothes are too tight now.  Her faces glows with health and shadows of a butterfly mark her face.  Silvery lines run across her swollen belly.  A smile lingers on her face as she wonders who this baby will become.   

As the pregnancy advances, the urge to rest and sleep more grows.  It's hard work supporting two people in one body.  Time seems to stand still.  Waiting.  Everything is ready. Patience as the due date comes near and passes.  Curious phone calls, "No news yet?"

Then in the early hours of the morning, a sudden jolt of pain.  Is this it? Excitement and fear mingle together.  Remember to breathe!  A speedy drive.  More breathing, relax.  She can do this. Pain, breathe.  The world seems to vanish as the focus becomes internal, in tune with the mighty changes taking place as new life is being born.  Draw deeply on a hidden well of strength.  Focus and push!  Incredible agony followed swiftly by overwhelming joy.  A baby boy, pink and wrinkled with thick black hair is delivered in a rush of liquor and blood.  Curious little eyes blink in the bright, harsh light of the delivery room.  A lungful of cold air and a loud cry. Perfection!  Tiny hands grasp the huge hands of his daddy as the wet warm body lies on his mother's chest.  Love overwhelms the little family as the medical staff quietly leave the room, dimming the lights.

Nine months a time of amazing change has flown by. A new life-journey begins.