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The Seasons March On

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 28, 2019 05:24

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A visit to my daughter showed the inexorable march of the seasons, in more ways than one.

My daughter married into a farming family and now lives some 550 kilometers to the west of us in a semi-desert region. We had to attend her birthday since her husband is working in Western Africa at the moment to earn cash. The area is in the midst of a drought, and farming is hard. 

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Offloading the poles

I took the opportunity to build a climbing frame and swings with the two grandchildren we see all too seldom. Young Diederick, a four year old farm boy, wanted a tree house, as well, with corrals for the sheep. He missed his father, and that is probably a father-son project. His sister Isabelle, going on three, learned how to use a hammer, so she helped with the drilling. 

Hammers are fun


It was below freezing at night in the Southern winter, and there was a crisis – many of the ewes had lambs out of season and could not feed them. We shared the work and the sadness at lambs dying, but the farm children had learned that this is part of the cycle of life.

We built it!


Driving back, we noticed the fields covered with red aloe flowers. The Aloe Transvaalensis, local variety of Aloe Zebrina, is hardy and flourishes where overgrazing has occurred. It makes a beautiful show, and I do not recall seeing as many flowers in one area.

Aloes color the landscape


Of course the Namaqualand daisies are already in full bloom; this is their domain, and if watered they give their beauty willingly.

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Flower child amongst the Namaqualand daisies


Back home I had a reminder from my apricot tree that I need to start pruning – the first buds are showing in what should be the middle of winter. The first of September used to be when the buds started showing, but seasons have changed.

The apricot feels that spring comes in midwinter. 



On the long road, my thoughts had wandered to the changes also in the seasons of our life – how my baby girl had become a strong mother, a competent manager, and a lovely adult. How my grandson had become a helpful young boy, missing his father, and resenting my taking up that space. How little Isabelle, recently a sweet baby, is turning into a self-assured girl who wants to participate in farming life and help her mother.

And how we slide out of their lives, take a new, more distant, role. Letting go of your children is hard, but birds have to leave the nest, otherwise they will never fly. And watching them build their lives and become beautiful people is one of the more satisfying things in life.

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 28, 2019 05:24

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Source: Mother Jones

This story was originally published by The Atlantic and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration....

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