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Recycling Angels

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Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by Bev Reeler

At the Environment Africa Recycling centre by Avondale Stream
a group of men make a whimsical array of things
out of aluminium cans
everything from sheets of brightly coloured flatted cans for roofing,
to lampshades, baobabs, geckos, giraffes, spiders and Christmas trees

Zimbabweans are never short of a plan

This year Robert has been making a range of imaginative Christmas tree decorations

There is something touchingly beautiful
about his recycled angels
the curse of our consumerism
reappearing as the messengers, warriors, guardians
a re-visitation of the wise ones
kitted out in the latest colours

Robert asked me to invite you to drop by
if any of you in Harare are on a hunt for Christmas tree decorations…

Robert angel

recycled angels 2


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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 by Bev Reeler

Where from, this outlandish collection?

one of pink cloth and blue wool,
white string and shiny blue feathers
some soft white fluff torn from the inside of a cushion
and carefully chosen fragments
from a pink and blue British Airways blanket

the other less colour-coordinated
more eclectic

black wool, black plastic string
white plastic string, white knitted plastic thread
a touch of blue wool, red wool, and a darker shade of leaf green
a portion of shoe lace,
gauze from an old forgotten fly trap,
grey wool, grey cloth
brown wool, a short piece of grey-green wool
thick string, thin string
a fragment of sky blue cloth
a piece of bark,
a dash of dead leaf and small portion of old carpet

lovingly collected parental assemblages,
innovative homes
for new born squirrel mice
and a pair of Curricane Thrush fledglings

remember the old days
when nests were built of grass and leaves?


Gods in the Garden

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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 by Bev Reeler

In 1947 Johnnie and Greta Makings arrived from a green and wet England
and bought this house on a dry and dusty hillside in a foreign land

at that time there was no water supply to Monavale
just a few rambling farmhouses and manager’s dwellings
strewn across its stony hilltops
that rise above the surrounding wetlands

Johnnie was an action man of the land
a pioneer
he knew how to survive
he was one of the initiators of the communal borehole
that was piped into the scattered dwellings
he picked up the millions of loose rocks and created beautiful dry stone walls
across contours of the hill
around gardens (fed by his house waste water)
built stone houses

he was a creative god in this foreign garden

when we came to this place in 1980
Johnnie and Greta were still living in their (Johnnie-built) house next door
and they welcomed us in with stories of this hill
- their home for 33 years

Johnnie told me of noticing a Gum Tree sapling
when he was building stone steps at the bottom of the garden
and of his decision to leave it to grow
an evergreen fast-growing foreigner to this land
it captured his spirit

when we arrived 33 years later, the hill was already a different place
water was being pumped from a seemingly limitless underground aquifer
and fed into gardens and vegetable patches on the hilltops
it had turned into a green and leafy place
with towering gums and shady jacarandas
foreign trees, planted by the new settlers
seeking a more gentle way of life

gods in the garden

30 years later, a more environmentally aware community
began to see the impact of these foreign evergreens
on the indigenous trees

beautiful Musasas and hardwoods
out-competed by new exotics
which  were spreading fast across the hill
leaving only vestiges of this once unique woodland

once again we became gods in the garden

and began to cut and cull these alien trees
in an effort to retain what had been lost
and we planted back native trees
and began slowly to see the increase in insects and birds and diversity

We too have been living on this hill for 33 years now
and Johnnie Makings’ Gum tree had reached an incredible height and girth
she could be seen for miles towering above the tallest tree on the hill

for years now there have been conversations about her survival …
the obvious problem being the amount of underground water she consumed
she was leaning a bit
she was out competing the surrounding trees
she was getting old – drying out at the outer branches?
was she on her way out?

when we were in Cape Town
Mel took the decision to cut her down

gods in the garden

coming back to a huge empty hole in our canopy was devastating
despite being warned
despite the logic
I feel a deep mourning

she was the herald of sunrise
catching the first light in the  tips of her sky-high branches
holding the last touch of gold
long after the sun had sunk below the horizon
the roosting place of eagles, falcons and passing herons
home to thousands of birds

she was my age
she was my friend
she was a guardian of our boundaries

what responsibility we take
when we play with the balance of nature
only aware of our own intentions
until we see the effects of our actions

in the bare-open space at the bottom,
Mel is ready to plant a few hundred indigenous trees and bushes
the moment the rains begin

gods in the garden

Lily found the huge cobra under the jasmine last week
it’s ankle wide girth winding swiftly across the lawn and into the rocks below
a sense of awe
of gratitude and relief that she is still here

and there were 2 bush babies at the bananas last night
are they a pair?

the garden echoes with the peeping of new fledglings

there are gods in the garden
despite our god-like interference

Fire in the sky

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Monday, October 21st, 2013 by Bev Reeler

October 20th 2013

Today Harare is covered in a choking pall of black toxic smoke
a thick fog seeping through every nook and cranny
the dry heat and hot winds of the last weeks has turned the city dump into a burning inferno

The scanty resources and inadequate management of our city ‘fathers’
unable to halt the fire and it’s the searing fumes

Today we sit sweltering inside (an unheard-of event on a Sunday)
watching thick smoke -  through closed windows (also an unheard-of event)
settling in waves across the vlei – the neighbouring almost invisible
and we are over 7 km from the fire as the bird flies

Today we breathe our own burning waste
the inevitable consequence of the consumerism we comfortably choose
to ignore – once we have placed it in bins and had it taken away

October 21st 2013

the fire still rages this morning
some respite earlier when the wind changed,
but it is back …
burning, choking, eye watering toxic fumes

our little bit of self-made poisonous addition to the fires in New South Wales

Coming home

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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 by Bev Reeler

crossing the Limpopo from the air
endorses the changing pattern  of reality

from South Africa to Zimbabwe

from a land marked by hundred-mile fences
by  strangely tinted  circular patches of irrigated fields
neat farms
straight roads
making direct connections from place to place

across the wide-winding sandy riverbed
uncoiling itself in slow curves across the bush

to a strange patchwork of small fields
wrapping itself around the slopes of the hills
folding over the floors of the valleys
contour-hugging paths and dusty roads
weave between places
around small woodlands (surprisingly still standing)
along invisible rivers
between dusty thatched homesteads

from a delineated and measured world
well-ordered and supervised by man
to organic chaos where the control of humans
is still held on a tenuous thread

the jacarandas are in full bloom
the paradise fly catchers have returned
the garden is a festive celebration of new life
danced by a thousand insects
and filled with the shouts and laughter of small boys

its home…
with power cuts and water shortage and rising costs
and corruption in full bloom in places of power

chaotic, messy and out of control

perhaps it is just the weather that keeps us here
or the warmth of relationship and connections
and the continuous challenge of rising to the next bit of chaos

it’s good to be back


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Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 by Bev Reeler

there are many disparaging words used to describe us  women
bitch, witch, slut, hussy, harlot, whore…

crone is one of these
it conjures up a picture of bent old women with stringy grey hair and warts on their noses
screeching voices and fearful curses

would you want to be that?

it is time to reclaim our authority as elders,
as grandmothers,
as crones
to remember and honour the gifts we bring
as the wise ones
to stop fearing our power as healers and ritual makers and web-weavers and visionaries
stop worrying about our size and shape and number of wrinkles
for it is now when we truly have the freedom to claim our authenticity
without needing approval

how do we connect ourselves into the spirals of life
and live each part true to inner knowing of ourselves
and call the wisdom of women back into our world?

For now is the time for us
to be truly who we are