Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I Want To Go Fishing!

When I tell people that my husband takes me fly fishing, I usually get faced with disbelief from men and pitying side-glances from women. Some go so far as to say ‘Oh, you poor thing’ while nodding knowingly and sympathetically.

When I protest and explain that I love to fly fish – that it started out as his hobby but has become mine too – they nod even more and give me the ‘wink wink nudge nudge don’t worry I know you are only doing it to keep him happy’ look.

It’s then that I have to pull out my favorite photo (conveniently saved on my cell phone) of my fish and me. A beautiful Atlantic salmon caught in Scotland on one of the fly-fishing trips Husband dragged me on.  (Please note the sarcastic use of ‘dragged’)

So lets just get this straight – I love to fly fish and I want to go fishing!

The season is upon us for catching still water trout in the Western Cape, and I cannot WAIT for our first weekend away.

But it’s not only the catch-and-release that I love so much, it’s not only the thrill of glorious sessions out on the water, wondering what beauty I will or won’t catch next, the exhilarating tug of possibilities on the fly line, surrounded by mountains and crisp fruit tree blossom – there is so much more to it than that.

Here are my top 5 things I love about fishing besides fishing:

1. Road trips

Usually when we go fishing, we have to travel a little way to get there. Road trips are full of great pad-kos, awesome radio, my very own DJ skills while hubby drives and fun conversation. Discussions that tend to begin with work, issues at home and daily bla-bla-bla, often shift once we lose radio signal to other, way more interesting things. You just can’t have a 45 min sing along with your significant other anywhere other than in a car and not be horribly embarrassed and/or admitted to a psyche ward. It’s pure magic, and one of the best ways to spend a Friday afternoon, if you ask me.

2. Weekends away

Do I even need to explain this one? Going away, staying in remote bungalows in the middle of the mountains with nothing but a sky full of stars to look at at night? Yes please! Not to mention the romantic nature of open fireplaces, tiny beds and zero cell phone reception – a weekend fishing is the most romantic get away there is!

3. Fresh air

Maybe it’s just me, but living a fast paced city life has a way of making me feel suffocated at times. Even though I love it, I need to get away from it all once in a while to be able to breathe, and what better way to do that than with my favorite human being in the whole world? A walk to the Woolies on the corner together in town with its car fumes, drain covers and overflowing dumpsters just doesn’t have the same charm as a walk, hand in hand, to the edge of the water in the dusk, surrounded by croaking frogs hidden in the reeds, and the air sweet with pine.

4. Braais and the Fires of Truth

Standing around a braai having a drink (or three) while the meat sizzles is a birth right for most South Africans. We love it! But daily life doesn’t always allow for too many leisurely braai’s in a row, and usually involves big groups of friends or family getting together. While Master Chef ignites my weekday aspirations, I love a good old, fuss free, eat when it’s done and not a moment sooner kind of dinner arrangement for two. We make a point of braaing on our fishing weekends, rain or shine, and we let the fire burn big and bright late into the night, enticing the most in-depth one-on-ones a marriage could possibly handle. It’s at these ‘fires of truth’ with my husband that I feel like we are dating for the first time all over again, diving into each other’s minds and swimming around, revelling.

5. The Pink Hunter Boots

Yes, it’s about the clothes. I love that I get to dress up like a stuffy Downton Abbey countess in her tweeds and wellingtons, and still be looked at by my husband as though I am the most beautiful woman in the world. And the fact that my wellies are pink makes it all the more enjoyable for me.

So to answer those questions and ease any suspicions - yes, fly fishing is definitely one of my favorite pastimes, no it’s not just because he loves it, and hell yea I am super excited for our next up-coming trip!

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust,
Cherry Blossom

Monday, 12 May 2014

Magic and a Brooch

Family heirlooms are more of a book theme than a reality to me. Little trinket jewels and symbolic emblems – the dragonfly necklace in Twenties Girl, or a nifty mocking-jay pin in The Hunger Games or One Ring to Rule them all. But in a world that is not on the best selling list, what is the point of these things? Where does the magic lie? I think about curios that people have passed down from generation to generation and wonder what it is about a material thing that could be so important?

Surely a plate of food, or a family vacation, or having a car is more relevant than some silly little nugget with monetary worth locked up in it? I have never faulted anyone for selling off those old keepsakes for the sake of their current situations. After all, a precious timepiece doesn’t pay the doctors bills.

Maybe my lack of appreciation for symbolic histories has a bit to do with how I was raised. 'Value' was never something we attested to earthly man-made possessions. And magic doesn't exist. Even if there was something left to sell, my most recent ancestors didn’t really have the option to pass things of value down the family line as world wars, death taxes, continental relocations and too many offspring watered out any possible inheritance we had before I was even born.

But that was OK with me. I have never felt the need for a fancy clock, or a vintage chair, or even an ancient jewel. Though I often thought it would be nice to have a beautiful old ring or some equivalent that I can treasure, it would only have been gimmicky - pretty cool - like something from a novel. But I have never seen the deeper value in those possessions. I never believed in magic. That is until now.

I had a surgery last week that I was very worried about. I struggled to sleep thanks to anxiety, but when I did, my nights were filled with nightmares leading up to it. Nothing could help me because all the pre-suffering was in my head, and I am about as stubborn as I am tall. Not an easy thing to deal with before going under the knife. I didn't need pills, I didn't need stern talking to's. I didn't need prayers or meditations or distractions. I needed magic.

That is why I put on my grandmother’s brooch. It’s the only thing I have of hers, besides her British, almost see-through skin, fair hair and love of words. She meant so much to me growing up and still fills my life now that she has passed on.

When she died, there wasn’t much for me to remember her by. I got a selection of her books – mostly poetry – and her dictionaries. I have a cherished doll she gave me when I was 5, a blanket she bought for me in my early adulthood, and I have lot's of photo's. But none of these things could go with me about my daily business. Not like the brooch could.

I hung the brooch from a necklace round my neck. It is actually a gift I gave her some time before she died, and so the family felt it right to let me have it when she passed. It is not valuable - I bought it on a budget years ago. It is a cheap, pretty thing that probably won’t last my lifetime. But it is all I have.

I am sad I don't have a ring, or something easy to wear that will last. But I am glad I have what I do. 

Just wearing that brooch made me feel better. Protected. Almost as though having it with me could make me stronger and more able to face what was coming. It gave me the little bit of magic I needed, wrapped up in the mindfulness of wearing a thing that belonged to my dear Granny.

So maybe it has nothing to do with the amulet itself, but is more about the person who it represents to me. Perhaps J K Rowling's explanation of horcruxes (loosely) is the closest to the mystery behind it (though, of course, taking Harry Potter out of the equation, and using magic for good - not evil)

I plan on keeping some special things, a few trinkets and little heirlooms to pass on when it is my time, so that my future granddaughter can have a piece of me when she needs it most. And I plan on being the grandmother to her like mine was to me, to give that trinket the magic Granny gave me last week.

Love, lust and fairy-star-dust
Cherry Blossom

Friday, 9 May 2014

An Open Letter to my Mother

Dear Mom (and Dad too)

'See the Beauty' by Jan Lang
On this Mothers day, I would like you to reflect on your accomplishments and achievements in the form of your children. Specifically me, your fifth child, and what it means to have been raised by you.

You made me and kept me safe till birth, cutting out anything from your own diet that could affect me or hurt me in any way. You ate food not for yourself but to nourish the baby growing inside you, and then the time came when you cut the umbilical cord, to let me learn to breathe and eat and nourish myself.

You carried me when I was little, cradling me from the dangers of the world and keeping me from bumping my head. You pushed me in a pram and carried me in a carrycot. But then the time came when you cut me loose, let go of my hands so that I could learn to walk, run and ride a bike on my own.
Artist: Mary Cassatt

You fended for me, bought me clothes and shoes and toys. You saved your money, not for your own pleasures and desires, but to buy me those little black ballet shoes I so desperately wanted. You used your money to put a roof over my head, buy soap to keep me clean, take me to the doctor, and pay for the everyday things that were needed while I was growing up. But then the time came when you cut me off financially when I needed to learn to fend for myself and make my own way in the world. You encouraged me to move away from home to find my own place, and build my own future.

You raised me to be strong and independent and you raised me to grow into a self-sufficient adult. I have been raised – something which is past tense, but which is imprinted in me for all the rest of my days. You were a good mother, doing your best and thinking of me always, and I will live those effects of your careful mothering forever.
'The Cradle' by Berthe Morisot

You nurtured and nourished me when it was the time to do so. You grew me and taught me. You did what you felt was right to imprint your views and beliefs and ways on me, and what has stuck has stuck and what hasn't hasn't. But despite the things that haven't stuck, (like the fact that I still can’t spell very well, and don’t ever make my bed with enthusiasm) I have been given so many great things by you and Dad that I am proud of and so should you be:

A good brain, a tall strong frame, a lovely hair colour. Appreciation of all music, love of cats and of classical music, of the piano, love of English culture, love of English literature. A relationship with the best grandmother a girl could ever have hoped for. The love of all animals, love of words, stories, ballet, love of children, love of humour. Love of bagpipes (sorry Dad). Wonderful individual relationships with my siblings. Love of my family. Love of learning. Faith. Ability to cope through hard times. Belief in being and doing good, and not behaving like an animal. Care of others. Consideration of others feelings and appreciation for others differences. Ability to change my position when proven wrong. Ability to face my own faults. Good manners. Not swearing (well, not the worst words, at least). Sharing and being helpful. Being a lady. Treating strangers kindly. Being brave. Belief in God. Liking to dress nicely and be clean and well groomed and present my best self to the world. Love of the William books! Enjoying learning new things. Nesting. Home making and future making. Having the highest love and respect for my husband (and the ability to find one who deserves that respect all by myself!) The ability to come back from a fight and to forgive and to say sorry. The inner drive to do everything to the best of my own ability. The need to work and create and build constantly. Ability to change, to move forward, to adapt. Ability to eat anything I'm given, at least once! You have raised me, giving me your best, and I am thankful for it. You have been the biggest part of making me the adult I have become.

The time came to cut me off. You no longer needed to raise me, grow me, fend for me – but I will never forget all you have done. You are a strong and wonderful mother for always knowing when it was time to cut the bonds so that I could walk up tall and free in my own life. You gave me everything I needed and I hope that you now see what a wonderful job you did.

Thank you for teaching me to cope when you had to cut me loose, training me my whole life to give me the strength and guts to go forward into the unknown. When you had to let go of my hands, let go of my nutrition, let go of my learning, let go of my finances. Of my beliefs. Of my ambitions. Of my future. Thank you for always pushing me forward, the little bird in the nest, who may otherwise never have learned to fly.

Thank you for being the best Mom.

I love you and only hope to be able to imitate you one day with my own little bird.

Happy Mother’s Day.