Tag Archives: environment

Foraging Today

Nature today is bound up. Neatly trimmed, contained within a set location and protected from the overgrowing metropolitan weeds which threaten to eradicate the indigenous plants. In this landscape from barren industrial warehouses to antique apartments which might display the occasional basil pot plant, where does one find resources to survive? It might be your first instinct to seek out conglomerate stores however today I’d like to share an alternative way of being.

ITEMS

When searching for a metal railing, a bookshelf or chair in Germany today one does not firstly head to IKEA. !SHOCKING! Even the secondhand stores are second choice in this regard. Rather a simple stroll on Friday through some densely populated areas will yield free wonders! Outside homes one can find entire lounge sets neatly set up as though waiting for a family to return home from work or school. Kitchenware already wrapped in newspaper, packed neatly in boxes waiting for your pickup. With some tender love and care, these items can be used to fully furnish your new home and provide fresh colour, a mix of eclectic styles and it won’t cost you a euro. I go nowhere without my 2 litre thermal flask of tea, specially chosen from the shelves of Steinfurter Strasse.

FOOD

This is a bit more of a touchy subject but in Germany living off the land, especially in September, is the real deal! A cycle through the smaller farming communities can often yield a feast. Wild apple trees grow freely along the narrow country roads, fill up your backpack and enjoy making some fresh Apfelmus! A walk through forested woods can have you returning home with treasures including Sweet Chestnuts or ‘Maronen’ which are superb roasted with salt or cinnamon. Collect as many as possible in September and stock up for the winter. Identify edible Maronen by their super spiky green exterior, like an urchin and don’t mistake them for the inedible Horse Chestnuts which are everywhere! The best for last, blackberries are in plentiful! Identifiable by their vine like structure and large thorny stems. Pick carefully and best enjoyed in a peanut butter smoothie! FoodSharing* is also an emerging culture where fruits and vegetables are saved from the local market which are thought of as ‘bruised’ and discarded. Through apps and social platforms it’s easy to find a FoodSharing location where you can pick up some colourful variety for dinner. Often a delicious hot lunch of potatoes, salad and tzatziki may be on the menu. DIG IN!

facebook.com/groups/foodsharinginberlin*

These simple discoveries has made Germany an interesting and accessible country to settle into. It brings one closer to nature and searching out chestnut trees can particularly rewarding. Nothing tastes better than your first collected maronen!

This piece of writing is dedicated to my dad who has always taught me how to rely on my surroundings, to be resourceful and independent! I hope I have carried on in your footsteps, happy birthday Xx – J 

© This work is subject to copyright (07.12.2019)

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport

 

A Journey.

Stark sheets of white cliff layered with intermittent clay juts out of the earth, an old man’s begging hand stretched out toward you. What an alien planet, she thought. These plants were not plants at all but strange creatures restlessly wandering across the plains. With their silver bodies covered in bumps and fine furry green fingertips. Pale mint colored tentacles, wide and flat unfurling in front of your very eyes. Gentle beasts. One can easily imagine an astronaut in his retro white suit, leaping from the raggedy ground in response to an unpredictable gravity. It has not rained in over 600 days and yet there are still patches of greenery, life continues to survive but it is hard to watch. She remembers a time when the plants used to thrive. The only animals are scattered far and few in between; they are domesticated tawny cattle, sheep with black faces and scratchy donkeys who roam seamlessly without shepherding. The remnants of acne, termite hills crop up in clumps of a dozen rather unexpectedly. Great power lines cut through the land, zigzagging and dividing the earth into neat compartments which will be organized later, when there is time to do so. In spite of it being July, the sun licks their faces and hangs heavily in watercolor blue washed sky. There are parasites here too, they web intricate plastic patterns connecting barbed wire fences to thorn trees. Pastel painted square houses are the first signs of humanity, a hint just before they drive through King Williams Town. Suddenly confronted with narrow roads and condensed cars, rusted shop signs and tin roofs. Broken buildings with their bones exposed. Just as they exit the town a flock of birds materializes overhead, their ebony and ivory feathers mimicking piano keys. Gradually the view outside the car window morphs, colors bleed into shades of unpolished gold and unpressed olives.

© This work is subject to copyright (17.07.2019)

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport

The Noble Nama Karoo

 

Strong and sturdy stood the young baobab tree as he welcomed guests into his home. His skin shimmered and to Cally it looked as though someone had carved him entirely out of gold. The butterfly man at the wheel, he wore a blue fisherman’s hat that made him look particularly out of place yet ever more himself than she had seen him be for months. They entered Richterveld, to come across the valley of a thousand hills dancing all the way to the border and beyond. Looking out Cally could only think that this was a magnified version of human skin; its rough textures ran flat with only the occasional shrub cropping up here and there like the beauty spots on someone’s back. Cally longed to trace the Nama Karoo with her fingertips, feel the slight bumps and deviations that made it so naturally unpredictable. Sleeping that night with the Lada Niva’s seat pushed as far back as they could go, a strange chill crept up over them and they found themselves shivering even after the sun rose that next day. The body seemed to be experiencing a new temperature, one that sat firmly between ice and heat. Confused it reacted in all sorts of strange ways from sweating profusely one moment to chattering teeth the next. After that evening it was no wonder the Namibian border officials turned them away; they had come from nowhere with a dust covered car and their bodies convulsing as though under the influence. The sounds of the space had also driven them to believe that they had encountered some sort of spirit at midnight, who had told them that they did not belong here. Desperately thirsty they beelined as far south as they could go, feeling their heads spin as they drove in circles.

 

©   This work is subject to copyright (01.07.2019)

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport

Eden of Coastal Tropics

The sky became the land, two sisters touching hands at the edge of the earth. The weary travelers drove over the last hill and finally reached the Indian Ocean. She was tempestuous and was often fuming with her sister at night; who would respond with dramatic displays of lightning and thunderous shouting. During the day she was unpredictable, her warm and welcoming waters could turn bitter and brash with just a change of the wind. To those who invaded her space she sent blue warships with their wicked whips. On land the trees thrived beside her ever-generous supply of tenderness, green with ripe fruit there was no plant life in all the country which were so heartily fed throughout all seasons of the year. It was an indulgent lifestyle that this realm offered and so they did not attempt to resist the riches which fell at their feet. Sitting with swollen bellies; filled with the sugars of bananas, pawpaw, litchis and avocados. Unable to move for three weeks, they slept beneath the large palm fronds on sand pillows and waited for their gluttony to subside. It did not go easily though, so Cally swam to starve off the incessant cravings and found herself discovering new islands never before colonised. She named them after things she loved and would often visit Honey Island for its excellent view of the mainland. The islands could only be visited when the tide was low, otherwise they were swallowed whole by the sea. It was here, in this private space that she began to collect shells and would return with bags full of them. They spent the evenings counting out the shells and would consume food until satisfied. That rare space in between starving and stuffed. Somehow, they found their way to this state of homeostatic being, the coastal wealth having given and taken away just enough to leave them balanced.

©   This work is subject to copyright (02.06.2019)

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport

The Sanctuary Realm

There is a secret route, which was carved by the Gods for only the brave and the gentle-hearted to be able to follow. It winds its way through moisture, wetlands and tall reeds which sway in the gentlest of breezes. Once home to only indigenous species, it now boasts a wide variety of foreigners. With tall European oaks who tell stories in husky voices about ‘back in the day’ circa three or four centuries ago. Trunks so wide it takes ten people to wrap themselves around it once. The Temperate Forests of Knysna are known by many but only a few truly connect to its ancient and sacred spaces. The air is cool beneath the dense greenery, sunlight just barely filtering through. Trickling water runs always somewhere in the distance, somewhere out of sight but never out of sound. Large patches of wetland with soft stroking reeds protecting the essence of the water from preying eyes, acting as the veil which hides the virgin. She recognized the taste of it all, something similar to the flavor of the ocean. It was history which tickled her tongue, sitting heavily and thick in the throat. Sometimes hard to swallow but always a rather interesting experience. A hush falls over all which enter, so that the quiet itself vibrates with life. Protected by humans and against humans, it remains a natural utopia of escape for much wildlife. It was early afternoon by the time they reached the reserve, they walked Dog without the need for a leash as he seemed to understand the spirituality which was woven into everything from grains of soil to the tips of leaves. Entering one side and exiting the other, they emerged baptized and reborn.

 

©   This work is subject to copyright (02.06.2019)

 

 

 

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport

Bonsai

 

Have you ever seen the sunlight filter through the leaves?

As a young boy his mother would tell him how the light which danced between the gaps were really fairies who had come to show off their dazzling beauty. He thought of those fairies often nowadays and Will knew it, she could sense that longing flow outward from her father. Perhaps it was pity or sympathy which had allowed for the idea to take root in her mind, the idea of such a trip which so few had the time or energy to make though everyone spoke about it. They spoke about the trees as though they were dinosaurs now. Spoke about oaks which had once stroked the sky with their green fingertips, oaks which had once been so large it would take over a dozen people holding hands to encircle it. Such trees had become part of myth and legend. Schoolchildren could be found at the museums gazing up at old fashioned photographs of their great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers standing beneath entire canopies of trees! Teachers would explain how the trees had once been the skyscrapers of the world, they had stood just as proudly with twisting arms and dark skin. Teachers would speak of the numerous species of trees, all of which were unique standing this way or that. They would speak of the proud pine and its sharp needles, how it represented a time of Christmas and how people would decorate the pine with tinsel and silver. They speak about the willow and its relaxed mood, swinging side to side in rhythm to the reggae beat that seemed to drift through the air whenever one was in the presence of the willow tree. The blue gum who would shed its skin and when damp appeared as though it were a Van Gogh painting with such a diversity of color.

The history lessons of fast growing populations and an unquenchable thirst for natural resources. Her father had told her most of those. He had told her how the world swallowed itself whole. The bonsai tree is often prayed to, preached to and its symbol restores faith throughout the world. Thousands of bonsai trees can be seen to line the windows of every building they pass by, each gnarled and stunted in height they standing slightly crouched over yet with an attention to detail that is captivating. Its petite leaves dangle from slender branches, moss keeps its feet warm in the winter and in spring miniature blossoms can be seen blooming. There are one hundred bonsai’s for each singular person. The bonsai’s are their breath, absorbing the smallest particles of carbon dioxide and releasing minute oxygen in return. Her father could often be found glaring or frowning at the bonsai’s, speaking of how they were poor imitations of the real thing. A child that never had the chance to grow up, he would mutter. Each person was taught from young how to curate and nurture the tiny trees, to ensure their survival was to ensure humanity’s survival. Will had loved her bonsai’s and to this day felt the thrill of watching one grow its first leaves, her favorite being the maple whose leaves portrayed spectacular flecks of gold in the autumn. Will feared this trip would change her view of the bonsai’s. 

The car smelled stale, litter could be found beside feet and under chairs. Cups and takeaway Styrofoam boxes with remnants of food probably three days old. What had possessed her to take such a drive? Will could no longer answer that question and the need for a bed had become unbearably loud. Her father slept in a fetal position in the passenger seat and his body was so frail at this point he could be mistaken for a child. At over a hundred years of age his childhood was long behind him and there was only one thing left in this world for him to do. Death was an old friend who visited in his dreams and made sweet promises. Before he accepted her hand, there was one last thing on this great earth he wanted to see. Will had lamented. As they drove the final distance a silhouette appeared on the horizon. At first she believed them to be buildings of a strange architecture. As the drive drew on, the last forest came into view. From a distance they looked like a line of bonsai’s growing somehow naturally but as the car drew nearer the trees grew larger. Their presence in the world spoke of times long forgotten and their leaves were maps of a world that once was. Charlie seemed to get out of the car before the wheels had stopped moving, he was six years old again playing with his brothers outside.The trees had been grand mansions once, entire worlds for them to climb. His legs did not ache as they moved toward the lush forest which seemed just out of reach. Stretching out his fingertips the distance between him and the trees finally closed. Charlie felt the gross beauty and imperfection of its rough bark. An energy ran through the tree making his fingertips hum with its vibration. 

“I am home.” 

By J.C. Delport 

©   This work is subject to copyright (14.02.2019)

All rights are that arise from this work are reserved for, and are the property of the author JC Delport