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Posts tagged ‘South Africa’

Pines in the snow

pine branch in snow

Pining for snow

eleven cities tour

1985: After 22 years of pining, at last it was there!

When I left the Netherlands in 1983 I could not remember when snow had last fallen or when the country had been bestowed with a winter harsh enough for the Eleven Cities tour to take place. As a youngster I had loved snow and ice-skating, but from my teens till my early twenties, winters were bland. Humid cold, stormy, rainy days, occasionally snow unworthy of mentioning and although I owned ice skates I didn’t have the need for them anymore. I do not remember any of those last winters hindering my cycling to work.

Down south

winter scene RSA

South Africa: yellowish-brown winter scene

Johannesburg, where I settled at the end of 1983, has a climate very different from the Netherlands. Dry winters and rainy summers down south. That first winter I was stunned and abhorred when everything turned brown and yellow and stayed that way for months. I was told that it snowed once every ten years in the city and that the last time had been in 1981. Hhmmm. Instead of loathing rain, I got to love it (Holland, like England, can be quite gloomy with many drizzly days in a row). You simply look out for it after six months of its absence while suffering the views of the scorched fields and parks, and you, as a new immigrant, start to look forward to it just as much as every other resident in the region.

To this day, more than ten years after leaving South Africa and having lived in the Netherlands for a whole year now, I love rain. But I love snow more. As a child I used to sit on my knees, leaning against the back of an easy chair, looking through the window and up into the millions of whirling snow flakes. Snow flakes seemed huge then!  Is it any wonder that the longer I lived down south the more I longed for a good old fashioned winter? Exactly thirteen months after I left Holland they were able to hold their first Eleven Cities tour in 22 years’ time. A friend sent me a beautiful publication of the event. I was immensely jealous and peeved! It was weird to see pictures of my country fellowmen tackling the frozen ‘tundra’ of Friesland while I enjoyed my second Jo’burg summer.

Holland is good to me

roe in snow

Unfortunately, not my own picture – had to nick it from the net

A year ago I arrived in a certain area because of three reasons. I had googled 1) house to rent, 2) pets allowed, and 3) wifi internet. It was miles away from my family and in a province I had visited once or twice during the summertime several decades earlier. I didn’t know that it would be colder here than at the North Sea coast. That geese and Whooper swans would be flying to and fro all day long. Roes running past me in the forest. A huge forest virtually on my doorstep, sand drifts not much further, as well as an old peat collection area, now protected. I just wanted to live somewhere safe with my pets and be spherically connected, so to speak. No, I would not have dreamt of asking for all those wonderful ‘things’ that I got. But then again, I knew then and know now, and have known for quite a while that Mother Nature loves me (and I’ve loved her right back). It’s as if she opened a treasure chest for me.

Pines in the snow

Here then, some (cell/mobile) pictures of my walk with Pantouf through a recent layer of snow (the second since early December).

Pines in snow

This way please!

Pine - exposed roots


Pine and dog

Old beauties

Pine broken branches

All shapes and sizes

Pine needles in snow

Snowy needles

detail pines in snow

Surprise! Detail of ‘Pine trees in snow’ by Maruyama Ōkyo – a well known painting

Pines and bench in snow


Pine and dog in snow

Born to sniff

pine bark

Close enough?

pine pair

A fine pine pair – till death do us part

pine - angled

Is it tough being an old tree?

dog on path

Time to go home ~ that was fun!

During the last snowfall, the walking paths, pavements and roads seemed to hold too much warmth for the snow to accumulate on them (it had been exceptionally mild for a while).  So no slipping and sliding.  Therefore, the ideal snowfall.


Of Pot & Potheads

Pot, Cannabis, Marihuana, Marijuana, Weed, Ganja, Dagga, Grass, Laughing Lawn, Hashish


When I conceived the idea for a P-blog last month, this word was the first one I thought of.  I don’t know why because I never hear it, nor use it.  I even thought then that it was a mere swearword, like idiot.  But wiktionary told me otherwise:

(derogatory slang) A person who smokes cannabis frequently, to excess.

Relaaax, man…

Who came to mind instantly was Derrick, a pothead in the truest sense of the word.  In his fifties, happy-go-lucky with occasional bouts of depression, nature and animal lover, easy to be with, calling a spade a fucking spade.

He had permanently bloodshot eyes.  The only time when he was not smoking pot was when he had just returned from a week-long ayurvedic cleansing retreat.  He looked well.  Was clear-headed and frankly, a bit too serious and intense for my liking, because he was not stoned.  He swore he would never eat another piece of meat or smoke another joint in his life.  He felt SO great!  Holier-than-thou also.

I think his resolution barely survived a week.  I could tell when he accosted me on my way out of his property after a party one evening when he bashed my car, forcing me to open my window.  His pants were down and with a sheepish grin he said ‘Look what you’re getting if you stay the night.’  Ah, the pot, she is a potent temptress.  I laughed, rolled up the window and drove home.  True as Bob, as they say in South Africa.  The last thing I heard was that he was doing well, charming as ever, even twenty years later.  Because you don’t die of smoking pot if used responsibly.  See link #1 below.

True as Bob!

My own experience with pot was a memorable one.  I was 26 and it did not result in a lifetime of pot smoking.  Quite the contrary.  I never smoked it anyway, but I ate it.  Baked in a cake by my friend & housemate who didn’t have the foggiest how much of the stuff to put in, so she just guessed.  It may have been a bit strong, that space cake.

At first I thought that I was immune to it and decided it was a waste of money.  It was a Sunday evening and I had ironing to do!  After about an hour I looked at myself in the mirror while ironing and suddenly wondered ‘Who on earth does her ironing on a Sunday night?!’  It had begun.  I joined my friend in the living room where I got a case of the giggles, while she remained utterly unaffected by it (only to get violently ill the next morning, shame).

She sat in a comfy chair with her knees pulled up around which she held her arms.  In that composition I saw the following scenery (except that she missed a knee, of which shortcoming I informed her):

If you had another knee, they would be the three rondavels!

Gee whiz…

I hated not being able to come down.  Hours and hours later my head was still spinning.  Contrary to what you might have heard or experienced yourself, I did not get hungry.  I did not get horny either.  I just became a wet blanket.  🙂 I didn’t like the long-lasting effect: five hours later I still got dizzy when I tried to sleep.  Just as well.  I’m not keen on bloodshot eyes.

I remember all this as if it was yesterday, as well as the music playing in the background of my stonedness: 1) Pink Floyd and 2) Alan Parsons Project.  I was never able to dissociate the experience from 1) The great gig in the sky, and 2) Sirius

Coffee shops 

Not having lived in the Netherlands during the new coffee shop age, to me a coffee shop has always remained a place where you can sit on a terrace, drink coffee and watch people walk by.  And discuss them if you happen to be with someone.  To call a place like that a coffee shop in Holland would be a faux pas.  Say, if you agree to meet someone in a coffee shop, you are bound to smell a whole lotta pot.  Wikipedia may call it a Cannabis coffee shop, but that’s not what they’re called in Holland.  Just plain coffee shop.

Watch out: There are special regulations for foreign tourists.

For sale in Dutch coffee shops:

Dutch pot

Recently it came to my attention that Dutch marihuana is allegedly far more potent than the same stuff from other countries.  Be ware, brothers and sisters.

Cool runnings!

1. Can you die from weed?

2. 100 celebrities that smoke marijuana

Please note: When it comes to pot, I am like Switzerland.  Do what you like.  You can be for or against: either way, it’s your prerogative.  This is just my little, hopefully a little quirky account of pot (just because I write about anything that starts with a P, and being Dutch may have something to do with it – we are so casual about these things).  No debate or headbutting is condoned.  If you like to share your own (funny) story, please do leave a scribble (I may edit it).

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