It that’s time of the year again – a tilt and a turning –

The earth laughs in flowers: Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was away for 10 days in Cape Town and surrounds. I returned last Saturday evening and was thrilled to see my garden in full bloom. A hanging orchid was showing off –

The yesterday today & tomorrow against one of the sitting room windows and its delicious scent –

The bougainvillea showing signs of recovery and returning to colour

The redness of the bottle brush tree against the greenness –

I took some lovely photos while in Cape Town & surrounds. I didn’t get to see the whales. One day I set off on my own for Hermanus expressly for that purpose. My directions were off and I turned around after travelling for about an hour. My directions were off the previous day too when I went to see a friend in one of the Cape Town suburbs. Was so late. I’ve been there many times – I got lost again when returning to my sister’s home. 

I being me of course wondered about this – my going off in the wrong direction or not following directions or not being attentive enough. Where, why was I off-centre were some of the questions I asked myself. A few days previously I’d gone for a walk in my sister’s very pretty suburb. Lots of roads and streets, avenues and cul-de-sacs and very pretty verges –

Pin cushions – had it been a sunny late afternoon they would have glowed even more – I got a bit lost on my way back –

I took off on another walk another day and found myself at the dam which was a lovely surprise –

I was always very grateful that I returned safely from unfamiliar territory. And, I enjoyed my wanderings as I stepped out of my comfort zone –

My sister Debora and I try each time I visit her in Cape Town, to take a drive to Gordon’s Bay (a good 3/4 hour away), where we used to live as teenagers. Bikini Beach was literally over the road from our old home. Photo is of me standing on the road close to the house with the harbour off to the right. We’ve always walked the jetty to the end. I’d picked up earlier a couple of small yellow daises in a crack in the paving and put them in my pocket. Debora and I always have a chat with our parents for it is into the sea at the end of the jetty that we tossed their ashes so many years ago. We had a good chat with them … and then tossed the daisies into the sea and rocks below –

Another time my sister and I drove out to Muizenberg to pick up Lisa en route to Simonstown to see some friends. While she was attending to curtain people in her house, my sister and I went for a walk on the beach very close by.Debora –

I’ve been thinking about my sweet sister over these days – her kindness, her calm, her ability to be focused and deal with the task at hand. Her nurturing of her lovely garden, hit and destroyed by last year’s drought, now fairly newly planted and growing with indigenous plants, paving, rocks and cactus. 4 rain tanks and her ongoing commitment to conserving and saving water. The lovely dinners she made – like our mother, cooking with love and creativity. She uses recipe books for healthy and delicious eating. Her commitment to gym and exercise. Her ability to be focused when doing a 1500 piece puzzle. Her loving care for her husband and for her 2 poodles. Her wise words about not always seeing the negative but focusing on the positive.

Country-wise, in South Africa that is, it’s pretty painful to witness the commissions of enquiry into state capture. The rot is deep and profound, the impact huge. Media is letting us know – we have already known for quite a long time, but now the festering wounds are being opened even more. This has to happen – the wounds are being laid bare, open and gaping, gruesome in the extreme. A huge percentage of our population because of inter alia illiteracy is entirely unaware, though the word is getting out even to those in more remote areas. There is a ground swell of awareness I like to think, of just how badly they’ve been served by their elected officials. 

Many of us have good reason to believe that the Ramaphoria euphoria (Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa our president) is over – we had hoped for much more from his new presidency, eg getting rid of some his henchmen in the inner circle. I only hope he’s playing a long game – elections are next year. He’s going to have to wave his magic wand – as of yesterday he launched a daring proposal to stimulate the economy and promises much needed fixing where it’s needed. It’s on the table and his delegates will be held accountable. There is so much that is up the creek here in South Africa – yet so much potential – he’ll have to do more than wave his magic wand – somehow we’ll all have to pull together. And return to our sense of hope or possibilities from several months ago.

I sometimes feel adrift with all these transitions. On a personal note Neil, my husband, turns the key in the door in his private practice at the end of next month and officially retires as a medical specialist. His patients are devastated. Some have spoken about flying down to Plettenberg Bay to see him. Who knows, maybe he’ll have a small practice down there. He and I have no idea of how this transition is going to be. We’ll maintain our home here in Johannesburg for a while. Both sons come up from the Cape fairly regularly for reasons of work and use our home as a base. I need to be in Johannesburg next year for various reasons. I imagine there’ll be some to-ing and fro-ing, maybe exploring places en-route, something I’ve always wanted to do. Road trip through our beautiful country. Organising things this end and that end –

In spring time, some homes show their beautiful gardens to the public. We went last Sunday to Neil’s old home where his parents and he lived. The gardens and home were very lovely. It was a trip down memory lane for him. ‘Strathy’ was its name – I remember his lovely home and his parents.  I took many photos but here’s one –

To end – as I write I am full of a virus. We should be leaving tomorrow, Sunday, for Southbroom, on the Natal south coast. We’re postponing for a day or so until I am over this. My husband phoned Rory this morning (our host for several days) to say about a delay by a day or two. He asked him at my request if there were any whales, to which Rory said that as they were talking he could see a whale breeching about 200 mtrs away. So this has lifted me somewhat … or considerably I should say –

The Equinox – when the centre of the sun is directly above the equator and when both north and south hemispheres are equally illuminated.

When we were travelling in June we went to see the Black Madonna in Einseideln, outside Zurich.. We were both overwhelmed at the beauty of her and felt her illumination. As I look at my photos of her on my phone I am again struck by her illuminating light and it is this that I pass on to you on the Equinox. 

The earth will be still for one brief moment tomorrow. May we all feel that stillness – as the wheel of the sun moon and stars and our planet continues turning – and we tilt this way and that –

Thank you for reading!









39 Comments on Equinox

  1. A lovely post, Susan. I also enjoy Cape Town and its beauty. You must be careful getting lost though, it is not a good thing to do in present day South Africa. I am excited for Neil and you setting off on this new phase of your life.

  2. Dear Susan, I have just returned from 10 restorative days away myself, where we travelled from the bottom to the very top of our beautiful island (south to north). Pure inspiration for this poet with all the UK’s trees and hedgerows colours presently changing. We journeyed from the predominate flatlands to rocky, mountainous highlands ones. The autumn/ spring equinox is a tilting and a turning time indeed and what a beautiful hello you received from your orchid and garden on your return! Lovely photos and I love Emerson’s flowers quote.

    Pulling together and bringing forth your own new voice is the way forward. South Africa’s seed of hope was cast decades ago by many brave and courageous souls, including Nelson Mandela. Why not hold on and play the long game yourself, cast your own magic for, “up the creek” can be met as a beautiful place where gaping wounds and vulnerability of long-held suffering is finally revealed. Nature, truth and beauty, no different to the blossoming glory of an orchid. Just a different lens is needed to see the splendour and light held within.

    Transitions are not easy, however, there are essential! On my journey I found that the south and north of my country are equally illuminated, what joy to discover this in myself when looking at your photo of the Black Madonna. I felt such a joyful fullness! Your sister sounds wonderful and shares her heart willingly. I’m so pleased to read in your replies that you’re feeling much better and that the whales leapt out of the sea and restored your heart to more abundance. Thank you for sharing and illuminating our hearts. Love and light, Deborah. xx

    • Welcome home Deborah! Your trip from south to north, the low lands to the highlands sounds wonderful. We too have just returned home from being down on the south coast in Kwa Zulu Natal. Such different geography to other parts of SA! Mountains, lushness and so green … It was a wonderful time away with whales to be seen from our bedroom window no less! Leaping and landing with the hugest splash! So, I’ve decided to be ‘happy’ for the rest of the year. It was always a secret to myself that if I saw whales I would be happy for the remaining part of the year. What deals I make with myself …

      Thank you for saying about me playing the long game – wise words. It’s true that the gaping wounds need to be recognised and seen before healing takes place. I’m reminded of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court of justice in the US. May voices who stand up against him be heard and justice prevail – maybe it won’t.

      Tomorrow is the beginning of October – how this year has flown by and no doubt will continue flashing by towards the end of the year. May all the flashes and flying be good ones on your side Deborah! Love & light to you too and thank you for coming by. Susan

  3. So nice to read Susan, I got so engrossed in your post, I did not know the time – lovely pictures of the flowers, and interesting to read. Glad and happy to know that you have such a beautiful,intelligent and caring sister. Looks like you had a great time meeting here and then wandering an finding your way. I also admired Neil’s old house, its awesome with lovely green lawn and colorful flowers. I like the way you interpret everything happening in your life and see the positive outcomes… the black Madonna looks gorgeous and energetic with illumination. Wishing you wellness and harmony:)

    • Thank you for coming by Genevive 🙂 I’m so pleased you liked the photos. Wellness and harmony to you and family and may the month of October be an excellent one for you. And many congratulations on becoming the recent chair of the YMCA. That was lovely to see on FB!

  4. Somehow I missed this post, Susan. I hope you are feeling better now.
    Yes, there seems to be a lot of tilting going on. . .I hope we all get that moment of stillness, and that it leads to some kind of equanimity.
    I’m glad you and your sister got to spend some time together–and visit with your parents’ spirits, too.
    It sounds like you are having a busy year, and also one full of transitions. Your spring looks beautiful. It’s nice to think of your plants blooming, as ours are getting ready to sleep.

    • Thanks Merril for coming by! Yes thanks I am better. A blooming miracle in my view!

      I’ll be back home again (this time away with my husband) on Sunday and I’m looking forward to seeing whatever else may be budded or bloomed. Before we left on Tuesday morning I noticed the jacaranda trees with a tinge of purple on them. Merely a touch … Where I am right now on the Kwa Zulu Natal South Coast is so lush and green and the sea is in my sight as I write. Whales have leaped out of the sea – all is well.

      Yup, tilting going on left right and centre …in politics here there and everywhere it is very evident. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the Fall … such a time of gestation …

  5. dear susan,
    the whales are breaching along our coast here and it does the heart good to know they are cruising by , singing their songs , caring for their families , holding their unique space of law and song and depth on the planet.
    your garden looks lovely , your sister sounds a gem and your heart sounds full of loving gratitude. may the months ahead that arise out of balance and that one sweet sweet moment of stillness bring you an awakening of further creative explorations adventures and connections.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Sandra. The whales off your coast make my heart sing. We’ve just spoken to our host on the south coast to update them about our ETA – we should have left yesterday but the virus is still with me. Maybe tomorrow. But, Rory says the whales are there. This also makes me feel a little better. And, my sweet sister has just sent me a message saying hoping i’m better and that SHE would love me to see the whales .. so, 3 messages all at the same-ish time … I’ll take that as significant –

  6. When I think of SA, I don’t think of it as being so lush, but your photos tell a different story. Ah, I wish your story told a different story. Here, too, we are struggling with the mercenary mindset of those in power — take everything you can get and leave the rest of the country to fight over the scraps that remain. It remains to be seen whether we will do the right thing with our recent Supreme Court Justice appointment that is playing out like a soap opera. Such a fickle world we live in, eh, Susan?

    • Yep Pam I’m watching the Brett (Brat) Kavanaugh story with interest, and disbelief. And all others who use denial of any wrongdoing. Denial seems to be bred in our bones .. Adam and Eve?

      Lush – nice word which can have many meanings. Much of our country is lush especially when the rains fall.

      Thanks for coming by – fickle is too nice a word for the world 🙂

  7. What a rich and full post Susan – so much to both consider and celebrate. And that I think at it’s purest is what life is really all about. It also seems to me that times of transition are often marked by wandering and getting a bit lost. Unsettling perhaps,but I like to imagine it’s only a tangible reminder of the gifts that exploring new paths can offer if we can manage to keep our eyes open and our hearts unafraid. Wishing you a most wonderful Spring!

    • what a lovely way of looking at losing one’s way. Thank you Deborah – I think I will be more adventurous in future.

    • That was very much my thought as well Deborah – nothing like getting a little lost every now and then – as long as we find our way back. In any event, we all experience this in some way or the other. Which can prompt us to look for other paths …

      I’m pleased to see my sis has made a comment! She is clearly encouraged by your remark! Have a wonderful Autumn!

  8. Susan, I do enjoy your reflections and pictures. Your plants are so lovely, while the plants and trees in our area are in their decline as Autumn begins, here in the NW.

    Your getting lost also reminds me of a year ago when I got lost within the campgrounds for our family’s reunion. I wandered for over an hour and could not find the site. Fortunately, I ended up calling my daughter and had her come find me. The funny part is that I was VERY near their campsite. Being lost is interesting and scary, but most of all I’m in shock that I couldn’t find my way back; but I did chose a different route. So I’m wondering how you found your way around.

    I’m sorry that you are feeling sick. I hope you recover soon. Plus, it will be interesting to see what Neil decides to do when he retires. Retirement is a unique experience. However, that is why I volunteer, but I always have volunteered.

    Enjoy the beginnings of Spring as we enter Autumn. It truly makes me think of our aging process. Have a wonderful Spring… sending Hugs your way!

    • I remember your story about getting lost in the campgrounds Gwynn! The important thing is that you were found! I phoned my sis once or twice but when it got to the third or fourth time I thought I mustn’t bother her all the time!

      I’m hoping that we’ll get off on Tuesday. The virus is still very present. It’s enough already.

      Neil may volunteer his services – he’s mentioned that. Testing hearing at under privileged schools or clinics eg. No doubt I’ll volunteer in some way …

      Enjoy the change of seasons! And thank you for coming by 🙂

  9. Gorgeous photos. I love seeing you and your sister at the ocean. Is that Neil in the photo of his old home place? I love the seasonal transitions although prefer the days getting longer rather than shorter and colder, but shorter days reflect in my energy and preoccupations. I’m harvesting tomatoes now and froze the last tomato sauce yesterday. Onions are already inside and I have enough garlic for the winter. I’m ready to send the butterflies on their way by the end of the month. It’s reading and writing time–soon.

    For much of my married life we lived in two places–here and where Vic taught about 2 hours from here. Many years I commuted with him and lived there 2/3 of the time. I taught in the wellness program there, but I love living in one place and reading about your travel adventures. A friend just retired and we’re having travel fantasies. We’ll see if it happens. My main focus now is to get these last 15 chrysalises ready for their 2500 flight to Mexico. Hard to believe that’s what they’ll do next, but that’s their plan.

    • Thanks Elaine. Yes that’s Neil at his old home! The vegetable gardens at his old home were lush – all kinds. I can imagine the owners doing similar with their produce. Do you grow your own garlic too? The best antibiotic.

      If you have travel fantasies about visiting South Africa then you know that I’m here! Like the butterflies travelling 2500 miles, though you and friend can triple that distance. I’ve always so enjoyed reading about your care and curiosity of those chrysalises!

      Enjoy the change of season and all that it brings and thank you for coming by.

  10. Dear Susan;
    Hope the virus is going away as the whales seem to be calling. Retirement actually means changes in more ways than one can imagine. Is it the biggest thing to do or the biggest adjustment? It depends on the person and circumstances. Hopefully it bodes well and surely you have more of a say than on the collective and political level.
    Your description of your sister was so charmingly tender.

    • Dear Susan, still feeling unwell – achey bones, heady, sneezing, the whole caboodle. Hopefully it’ll be a 48 hour ‘thing’ while I anticipate the next 48 months. On the surface all does bode well. But I know how frequently the unexpected happens. I just spoke long distance to my sweet cousin (on my mother’s side) who I haven’t seen for many years, about Ivan, her brother, my cousin, who recently died very unexpectedly. Healthy, vibrant, kind, adventurous – he sailed around the world single-handedly many years ago. He introduced me to to Carl Sagan all those years ago …

      I wonder if Debora will see my post – probably not 🙂

      Thank you for coming by and commenting. Susan

      • I’m here…..to accept those beautiful words about myself is not very easy. How can I own them? Thank you my darling sister – my heart is bursting – I am deeply thankful for the abundance the joy and the love that surrounds me every day

    • Thanks Donna for your lovely comment and good wishes. I so wish I was feeling better today – we could have been on our way to the coast (Southbroom) – that’s not happening.
      In one of our lovely local parks there’s a Land Art ‘exhibition’ – I’ve been to a few in the past and they really are lovely. I’m hoping to feel a little better and get out into Nature in a few hours time … that could be healing 🙂

  11. I didn’t know you could kill Bougainvillea! Mine seems to survive everything for which I’m thankful. I love its constant color.

    I’m glad to hear you’re hopeful about South Africa. I love that about you, Susan. You always have a positive attitude. The US is at all-time highs for unemployment, growth, stock market, energy production, feelings of well-being, job satisfaction, safety, and yet I worry more than I exult. I need to channel your optimism.

    • Our unemployment is at an all time high. Growth is minimal in all areas. Hospitals are poor and dreadful for the general population as is education. We do have bright sparks here and there – my default is a negative one usually and I’m not madly hopeful about anything. I do not believe in miracles. I believe we’ve been thoroughly blindsided by the corruption and state capture. My sister on the other hand while worried and concerned remains calm – but thanks jacqui. I know what’s going on in your neck of the woods –

  12. It’s thrilling to see your Garden of Eden bloom now. As North America tilts toward fall, you angle toward spring. Thank you for all of this, Susan, and for the gentle reminder that for one moment, the earth will be still.

    May you feel the stillness and be blessed!

    • Thanks Beth – I like the turning towards fall or autumn as we call it here in the southern hemisphere. A time for going inward and gestating and watching the leaves change colour and fall, making a carpet ..

  13. I asked for the mileage between Plettenberg Bay and Johannesburg and was given the answer 710 miles. One estimate gave the driving time as 11.5 hours and another 16. I was curious, because for several months we had homes 800 miles apart. It took us about 15 hours to drive it. I’m excited that Neil is going to retire and hope you will both be pleased with it. If this doesn’t seem to go through, I’ll try another way. Most times my replies to you are blocked.

    • Thanks for coming by Anne. We’ve done the road trip many times from our home here in Johannesburg to the front door of our Plettenberg Bay home. 1278 kms. Same as 800 miles. Around 14 hours drive time. Fly time is 2 hours which we do quite a lot. No doubt we’ll be doing both driving and flying in the next many months.

      I hope you receive my reply Anne. You’re the first this time round! Yes, it’ll be a new adventure which I hope suits us. It may take some getting used to though!

      • This is my reply that did not seem to go through:

        I’m surprised my comment went through, and already I have your reply.

        We love retirement and always hope everyone likes it as much as we do. I was relieved when we sold our old home, because there was an awful lot to take care of. Flying was not easier, because it took a long time to get to and from the airports. Maybe your flights are much easier. I hope so, anyway. I’m looking forward to reading about your new life.

        • Our international airport is very accessible – a mere 15 minutes on the speed train. Yes it seems as if people get a great kick out of retirement – I imagine a re-fire-ment.

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