a daily blessing

The work of the late anthropologist Angeles Arrien helped me to see a deeper, more personal layer of significance in natural cycles. Most mornings, I love to greet the four directions - the rising sun in the east, the north where (in our hemisphere)…

the sweet spot

One of the great gifts of being alive is the experience of care. To care deeply about a person, a community, a creature, the Earth, or an issue in society is to glimpse the possibility of oneness. However, when care becomes attached to a particular…

come to your senses

This poem came to me during a solo hike this past weekend. A tiny orchid in the grass alongside the path attracted my attention, reminding me of the gifts that are waiting for us to open our senses to the world.   Come to your senses: Feel…
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illusion most real

It was a still autumn afternoon as I sat at the weir on Nursery Stream at Kirstenbosch. The reflections of the forest trees were so clear that I could hardly make out the rocky bottom of the shallow pond. Something as immaterial as a reflection…
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bitter-sweet aloe

Aloes are amongst the best defended plants I know. Their thick spiny leaves and bitter sap safeguard their watery reserves through the long dry summers. These defences make aloes look like really tough characters. But the aloe plant I sat with…
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the unseen work

There are many stages along the stream of life - some boisterous and exciting, others still and reflective, and others where it feels like we've dried up completely. In the Dell at Kirstenbosch where I spent my nature solo recently, there's…
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a lesson in releasing

I love eucalyptus trees. Together they create a living cathedral, with marble-like bark, arching branches and the pervasive smell of incense, that leaves me feeling hushed and in awe. And they are such wise teachers. Whenever I spend time with…
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tangle's gift

It's been a while since I posted ... that's seasons for you! Anyway, the holiday season has given me time to return to my nature solos. One of my nature solos in December took me into a 'scruffy' wild area beyond the carefully tended lawns…
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Matter, when sufficiently insubstantial, transmits the light of life. Petals, when vulnerable and translucent, smoulder with rich warm glow. Sunlight, when I dare to face its radiance, reveals the soul of you.
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these two oak trees

Today two oak trees Tell a story of change: One cautious, starkly bold Holds onto winter; One precocious, softly crowned Rushes into spring. Each responds in its own time To the call of lengthening days. Now is the time. Feel the…

being erica

being erica you live frugally wiry and determined through summer drought In dirt-poor sand being erica you grow quietly; inconspicuously catching sunlight, waiting for spring being erica you give lavishly of nectar and beauty; from…
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soul expression

This Saturday was another delicious day at Silvermine. The slopes shone with sunshine cone-bushes, but it was a tiny yellow bulbine that held my attention. Growing amongst sandstone shards on top of a rock, this fragile little plant was defying…

song is a salve

Rasping, gurgling, twittering, piping, the mountain birds declare themselves. Shouting from cliff to distant slope like dwellers in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.  Their songs delight. I do not judge the cadence or the melody, touched…
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stream dance

˜The winter rains have arrived in Cape Town. In between the cold fronts, I spent time contemplating a boisterous mountain stream. It reminded me of a joyous party, with each of the elements in turn inviting water to dance. Each element engaged…
shed skin


Wandering in the Tokai Arboretum this week, I came upon a grove of eucalyptus trees with their trunks smooth and shining. The last strips of the previous year's bark were being sloughed off like the spent skin of a snake, revealing the purity…

between the winds

Today has the texture of silk sheets and cashmere after seasons of sackcloth scratching the skin.  I’ve lived like the wind. May this still day remind me, soft as feathers on water, to breathe gently in.
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blatt ... oh dear!

I have a deep, irrational fear of cockroaches. They belong the Order of Insects called ‘Blattodea’ – a name that proved prophetic for one particular cockroach that I encountered this week on my nature solo. His apparent determination to…

sand stories

The poem from my nature solo this week is dedicated to the memory of John Winter, past Curator of Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town. John passed away on 8 April at the age of 77. I worked at Kirstenbosch towards the end of John's long career…
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seasons turning

Autumn fog bleaches the day. Insipid views turn my focus towards the earth. Sandy mound – no grandeur here, save sinking sun illuminating the ordinary. Droughted shrubs tired of summer, grass responding, invited by the early…

autumn paradox

It is the time of the autumn equinox in the southern hemisphere. Observing nature this week, I realised how my concept of autumn has been shaped more by cultural images than by the reality of my surroundings. So often we trust our assumptions…
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a child until seven

This week, I again visited the Silvermine Dam for my nature solo. The intersecting circles of ripples in the dark water of the dam fascinated me. As I settled down to write, I realised that it was 14 March, my father's birthday. Our relationship…
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at the end of my tether

At the end of my tether I go rowing - in the middle of the lake lifting my oars to drift amongst morning wave-glints that slap against the bow like a heart murmur.  At the end of my tether I find you, weary moon, setting behind Muizenberg hiding…

elemental embrace ™

˜  Warmed by the fire of sun Refreshed by water’s ripple Supported by firmness of rock Touched by the wind’s caress … From your embrace springs life The lovechild of the elements Irrepressibly emergent Co-creating our blue-green…
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cork oak

This week my nature solo led me to a circle of cork oak trees in the Tokai Arboretum. The tremendously thick, rugged bark of these trees protects them from forest fires in their native Mediterranean habitats. As the tree grows in girth, the…
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in praise of grandparents

Twice this week, I've experienced the joy of watching grandparents playing with young children in nature - sharing with them an experience of fun, freedom and fascination. In contrast, less than a week ago the country's attention was drawn,…
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In the forest yesterday, I was touched by the apparent tenderness with which the decaying trunk of a fallen tree was nurturing a new generation of fresh young seedlings. Oh fallen one, Your hull hollowed By the adze of time, How softly…
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the fellowship of aliens

'Alienation and belonging' is one of those recurrent themes in my life. It's not just that I'm an immigrant - I'm also something of a maverick. So my primal need to belong lives uncomfortably alongside my need for freedom and authenticity. I…
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the gift of attention

Gently Cloud shadows stroke the earth The solar spotlight pans Across slope and dell Highlighting individuals Celebrating communities Drawing attention to The taken-for-granted ones  Flowers too Emphasise otherwise overlooked Individuals In…

the sacred garden

The year 2013 is ending – the 100th anniversary year of Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town. Ever since my dad first brought the family here when we arrived in South Africa in 1970, I have loved this Garden. And this year, it has been the place…
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a tribute of hope

Today Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was laid to rest in the rural village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, where he spent much of his childhood. Since he passed away on 5 December, the world has been united in paying tribute to this great soul. His…
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beach pilgrimage

Sometimes solo time in nature means looking for a place where you can be physically on your own in a natural setting, without any other human beings present. That is a special experience. Sometimes solo time in nature means going quietly within…
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Lying on a mattress of roots In the lap of a rooi-els tree Beneath a greenly translucent canopy I learn about … Surrender ™ New leaves intercept the sun They shade and starve The ageing boughs below. An old branch, overshadowed, Accepts…
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a gift of renewal

in her wisdom twice a day grandmother moon draws the edge of the ocean up the shore - felling our castles erasing our traces wiping clean the troubled sand beyond the tide-line this new beach beckons bare feet to create new impressions in…
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forest connections

  In the forest, all have value - none is greater than the other. Soil praises the canopy for its gift of nourishing leaves; Germinating seeds give thanks to birds for transport to receptive soil; Saplings pay homage to a fallen…
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a delight of ferns

Towering above me the masters of the forest make a bold impression, while here below on the forest floor ferns delight me with their humility. They greet with grace the co-creators of their flourishing: sheltering canopy seeping dampness filtering…
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the still time

In a world that seems to value us more for 'what we do' than for 'who we are', it can be difficult to accept those times when our lives become less busy, and less defined by a particular role. The empty nest, retrenchment, retirement ... all…
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the same wind

Pat and I are privileged to live on a canal that leads into Zandvlei, an estuary in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. I was out paddling on Tuesday, and my relationship to the wind that day gave me some insights into how I choose to relate…


Lemniscate was created from leaves on the forest floor during a land art hike on the Garden Route of the southern Cape, South Africa in August 2013. This is one of my favourite symbols of life's ongoing, regenerative cycles of change.
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my very first post

I know that nature does my heart good, but despite this I often find that days go by without me making time to connect with nature. So this month I've made myself a promise ... to spend time in nature each week and to record my experiences in…
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