25 July 2021

How long is your shadow?

We'd spent the day climbing. The trees far below seemed small. The stolen clementine had been a sweet treat with which to start the trek. And a tot of sherry was a sweet way to end the day as the sun set over Plettenburg Bay

Albert Einstein  If I could see further than others, its because I stood on the shoulders of others.

Our position is not ours alone; it is through a few things we attain our position:

  • our forebears
  • hard work and learning (of our own and our past)
  • some luck/accident/fortune;
  • Or laziness and we stagnate or backslide.
And so, standing on top of the greatest peak in the Tsitsikamma Mountain Range, Peak Formosa, I ruminated thoughts and feelings... how atoms so small are integral to the outcome of this sentinel of the Garden Route in South Africa. I thought how small a life is, but how much influence it may have on our Earth. My life.
  • A tree can be groomed as a dog can be trained. 
  • A tree will form rings in its trunk as it grows and weathers the years. 
  • A tree uses its instincts, its genetic coding, to produce flowers and fruit; and it learns which years to produce more and some less. 
  • A tree allows the soil and the weather to choose how sweet its fruit is born.
  • A tree provides shade and food to friend and foe. So should we.

This community led, community supported project requires privileged support (people who have enough giving to those who don't). It will mean the unprivileged require less support in a few years... and so the education spreads and food security leads to economic security leads to prosperity for another small community (and yes, we know that is not a straight line... but all Long Freedom Walks begin with a single step {apologies to Mandela & Tzu}).

After sleeping the night on the mountain we descended to the trees for shelter from the sweltering sun... and nourishment for the souls. 




18 July 2021

Nelson Mandela Day 2021

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”  Nelson Mandela

What does it take to build? To rebuild? To rise again, phoenix-like?

Adopt a tree now at www.ccfa.africa/everesting
Nelson Mandela will tell you that Freedom is a Long Walk away... and others will tell you that every destination is reached by taking the first step (and not stopping).

Sometimes freedom actively divides conspiracy theorists and coup plotters one from another. 

Peace is like freedom... it is not passive, it must be worked for. Worked for like trees divide soil, but bind it close as the best ally.

Look to the trees. The feeder of bees through their flower, the grower of birds through seeds and fruits. 

Look to the trees that bind soil and rock and direct water to the skies. 

Look to the trees that dance in place bending with the whistling wind and lit by sun and stars and moon and lightening. 

Your ancestors saw that. Today's oldest trees today were planted then. Seedlings then saplings then teenagers bearing young fruit now full of years, ancient memories and no voice. 

Yet still they sow fruit for us and oxygen. We breathe and live because of the trees. 

Suburbs have treasured the healing of body and mind... and ripped trees from the townships and pavements. 

Now we must return to "simpler" things by planting and adopting not our future, but the future of our planet, our children, our children's offspring. Now we must be Greening the Community, not just ours, but all.

We're litter in winter now. Let's create spring... so that summer may bloom again.

“It always seems impossible, until it is done.”  Nelson Mandela. Be the change. 

Adopt a Tree now. www.ccfa.africa/everesting

11 July 2021

Significance: Saints and Sinners

Adopt A Tree or Cluster of 10 Trees Now

There are a few ways to measure things... money, happiness, support (clearly not a comprehensive list). 

What's your favorite measure? I like 100 miles ;) yes, its a running measure 

Spiritual writings often talk about angels falling (that is, they're now demons), sometimes about demons rising (that is, they're now angels). I wonder how much mythology plays a role... After all, our Creation stories started with oral tradition (i.e. word of mouth). Facts never stand in the way of Truth.

History gets told in different ways; but we actually live it now; its active, we don't just "live in it", we act it. And so we must live into today's decisions in one of two ways (a form of death by logic, if you will):

  • what I/we do makes a long term difference (even Eternal) (let's call this "good")
  • what I/we do is transient and matters only for immediate personal pleasure (lets call this "evil")
Of course there is a whole line of rainbow colors between those two end points of good and evil... and often actions have a measure of both good and evil in them, as do our intentions. 

Do I go out strong and hold on for the other 99 miles? Or do I try to maintain a moderate but consistent effort throughout. Only you can make that choice, and that choice is made with what effort you have left now for the rest of your race... the rest of your life.

I think we can agree, though, that unless you're purely evil, there is a measure of goodness to be attained by investing in others and our positive/progressive relationship to the other. That is: "do no harm", "do unto others...", and all the rules we intend to apply religiously.

And this is why the acknowledgement by Mr Zuma of (at least some of) his error regarding the Constitutional Court of South Africa has some significance this week. He was a key figure of positive change in the late part of the struggle to free South Africa and bring equality; he was an angel of sorts. Like some other significant leaders, he fell foul of greed; some of many charges he remains to face in court. And so an angel fell... but may have at least risen a little again. A phoenix?

So, for the good of this country he has handed himself over (willingly or not). He will throw every trick in the book to evade consequence, just like the old Apartheid leaders did... and it is their privilege to still walk free. 

My (our/your) choice is to worry about how we encourage our leaders to "come clean"; and to come clean ourselves. Yes, like Zacchaeus of the Biblical story, repatriation of resources to the victim's coffers may be part of the complete resurrection. This may be true of Mr Zuma (and others accused of State Capture). How far back do we go in addressing this? This is a serious question because a strong nationalist sentiment is asking it. The Truth & Reconciliation focused more on forgiveness than consequence. Maybe now is the time for more consequence? But willing consequence... not a "sorry", or a free gift to some cloud, but a personal and direct investment in relationships that grow you, the other, and our communities. Be a mentor if you have the privilege. 

It is sad to see trust betrayed, like we have seen with state capture. It does not mean that we should not trust again. It means we need to be more clever with our trust... 

Response needs a level head, and that is best available on a full stomach, in warm clothes, from a safe place. This is not a capitalist ideation. It is the ethos of "good".

Creating this space for all our country's citizens by our everyday actions, making it possible for all who so desire to achieve this space, is vital. That is, we need to remove barriers, build relationships and circular economies; respect our mutual spaces, on the road, in the workplace, in our fair payment for goods and services. And this has to move through our lives as humans to other animals, plants and even the rocks and water and air we breathe. Respect.

This is why I have chosen to support Indalo Indigenous Nursery as they seek to fulfil their mandate of #GreeningTheCommunity where they live, KwaNobuhle in Nelson Mandela Bay. They are being supported through the coordinated efforts of Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) and their #AdoptATree campaign. Help us plant 600 trees before Christmas... and maybe 6000 before I attempt another silly little run up a hill.

It is my way of getting you a simple way of getting involved as an angel... making a change now that lasts forever. Be an angel: #AdoptATree


04 July 2021

Get lost once in a while


Every good story meanders. Sometimes it even means something to someone.

When life is hard, breathe. 

When sleep is rare, breathe. 

When understandings seem more missed than stood on, breathe.

Breath brings a perspective being busy never will. And life is centered on air.

No signal was no problem, although on our Saturday walk we missed a clear path as we wandered up a kloof (gully/rocky valley) - and that could have been a problem. There are some lessons here, some meaning from our meandering!

We didn't make the top, although we were really close! #LancasterLovely and #LancasterLight are not mountain practiced. When it got really steep (40+ degrees at points) then #BansheeBeastDog was also less than happy - four paws or not! I carried him over some hairy obstacles a few times.

These last 6 months have been frenzied with a change of job and job spec for my wife and I respectively. We haven't really had a breather like this in a while... and we could have walked more, but really a 2-turned-4 hour exploration of Springlands Farm and Self Catering Cottages was great time together extending our family lore, and (almost) surprisingly good training for my exploits for Everesting and The Tusker later this year.

Always take first aid... we got scratched and jabbed by multiple bramble bushes, sharp rocks and dead wood. 

Always take clothes for all kind of weather; layer! You're in the mountains and you never know what could happen.

Always take emergency gear: I had a space blanket, a whistle, and emergency rations of food. 

Once I knew we had missed the path, and because I am experienced/know my limits, I stopped eating and drinking, but surreptitiously fed the dog, the son, and the wife. And then not so surreptitiously; "you will eat this now"! 

In the end we missed the top by about 300 meters, (but it may have been a little further considering there was a gully in the way, too). However, we scrambled down and laughed and cried and saw some friendly dogs at the Mountain Cottage.

We stayed at the River Cottage... and nearly booked it again soon. Maybe when its warmer :) We have, in fact, already booked our next stay. It helps that it is an animal friendly accommodation as I've been rather insistent on taking dear Banshee with on our adventures.

There are 4 cottages from which to choose - and a host of activities. Have a squizz at Springlands Farm Self Catering Cottages and their Facebook page. Maybe book a weekend... 

Then go explore... and maybe get lost a little ;) 


PS: Go on, adopt a tree and help change the world by getting some folk just a little more green in their 'hood. I'm going to "climb an Everesting"... you don't have to, but you can help motivate me. www.ccfa.africa/everesting

Volunteers - call to action

Have you ever been up Everest? No, neither have I! The highest mountain I've climbed was Thabana Ntlenyana (Lesotho) at 3482m above sea ...