A Life for All Seasons         – Bob McMahon  






Hannah stood outside the patio doors and marveled at the beautiful display of daffodils. She had planted the bulbs some four months previously and now, in early April, the flowers had blossomed into a vibrant cascade of yellow. She loved gardening. Aged thirty six, married with two young sons, she was content with life. Her job took in only three mornings a week which left her enough time for the kids and the garden.


As she pottered about in the early spring sunshine, her contented life took a massive jolt when the telephone rang inside the house. Her brother had been diagnosed with cancer. She was stunned. He was only three years older than her and they had grown up as close as could be.


She stood in a daze staring at the rows of daffodils.




It was three months on from the day of that phone call. Lung cancer, with chronic obstruction pulmonary disease. ‘COPD’ they called it. What the hell did she care how the bloody medics termed it? Her brother was dying. Less than a year to live they said. The doctors had been professional and supportive, devising a treatment plan which involved either radiotherapy or chemotherapy. They had talked about small cell cancer, breathing problems and lymph nodes. But all she knew was that her brother wouldn’t be around for much longer.


She strolled in her garden and admired the freesia plants now in full bloom. Inside her mind she lamented that the beautiful flowers also had a short-term life span. In a few weeks they would also be gone.




She was angry. He had been a smoker. ‘So what,’ she thought. Wasn’t he entitled to some small pleasure in life? Did pleasure always have to have a downside? Did the scales have to be balanced? What was the point of pleasure if it had to end in despair? She was angry with herself, angry with her brother, the hospital staff and everything connected to cancer.

The leaves were turning orange and brown now as autumn approached. ‘It was always like that,’ she thought, ‘new life, sparkling colours and fragrance, and then the downside.’




Her worst time. It was too cold to go out into the garden. The flowers had withered and died. The trees were bare, and there was a long wait before spring arrived, and with it, new life.


Her brother’s health had steadily declined and she knew that the end was close now. Winter cast long dark shadows across the garden as she stared vacantly out of the window.




The funeral was sad, and she thought how much life mirrored all that went on in her garden. You sowed the seeds and planted the bulbs. Then, by some miracle, they blossomed into beautiful specimens to be admired by all – just like her brother. Slowly the plants ended their life and disappeared, to be replaced by the long shadows of winter.

She stood in the church and read the eulogy. ‘Only the mountains and the stars last forever. All things share the same breath. The beast, the tree, and the man. Life is the shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

There was a tear and a smile when Hannah noticed the bright yellow daffodils arranged within the church.


The following pieces  were in response to a series of Writing Prompts, sent over the month.  As you can see, the topics were varied.  Enjoy!


Fynbos  – Corinna Turner 

The fynbos kingdom owes nothing to fairies, dragons, ogres and suchlike – though with such special plants in it this is a kingdom that would be a good place for them.  A sort of Flower Fairies of the Fynbos.

So, down here near the bottom of the world live many, many special plants that can only be found here, though I believe, Australia having once been attached to us may well have one or two similar species.  It is the tiniest floral kingdom in the world – way down here, hanging on at bottom of Africa.

I am not an expert on the subject of fynbos, but many people who live in South Africa will know of the Protea, possibly even the King Protea and the Pincushion Protea, and any sports fanatic will obviously know about The Proteas, who use the Protea as their emblem.
The fynbos kingdom is a small coastal belt, 100 to 200 km wide, of natural vegetation located in the Western Cape of South Africa. The Western Cape is predominantly a winter rainfall, coastal and mountainous area with a Mediterranean type of climate.  Fynbos makes up around 80% of the vegetation in this area – The Cape Floral Region.  The plants that make up the species are adapted to live in poor soil conditions and are mostly shrubby, heath-like and woody.  Their seeds often need regular burns of the areas to germinate them, other seeds being taken down underground by the African ants that are indigenous to the area and others only pollinated by specific butterflies, bees and bugs.  Fynbos consists of over 9 000 of the plant species, and 7000 occur in only five fynbos vegetation types.  70% of these are endemic.

Actually, this subject is fascinating, and I could go on quoting dry statistics, but perhaps you should rather go out there to places like Fernkloof in Hermanus and Stanford, as examples and walk amongst these amazing plants that have been around for so long. Sadly for such a tiny biome humans are encroaching more and more on the areas where fynbos grows and some areas are illegally ploughed for grape vines to be planted  and the tiny kingdom is fast vanishing.

You can also go and read articles such as to find out more and how to protect an area that has more plant species in it than the huge Amazon basin/forest.



Like staccato notes the first raindrops danced on the roof. Later it became a fully fledged orchestra. Thunder, sounding like kettle drums, roared in the distance. Soon the water was rushing through the downpipes, overflowing in the catchment areas.

Pieces of plastic, small branches and paper surfed their way to the drain pipes. Cigarette butts from discarded motor car ashtrays bobbed down the stream. The  potholes were starting to fill. Pools of water appeared on the streets and driveways. Like a corp de ballet the falling drops danced on the surfaces of the water pools. Leaves, hanging like limp hands from the branches, dripped with water. The wet bark of the tree trunks turned dark and shiny.

Turtle doves, with bedraggled wet feathers, sat quietly. They were huddled together on branches of the oak tree. The usually noisy hadedas were quiet for once. The fig tree offered them some protection from the driving rain.

With noses pressed against the windows, children watched the water, now streaming down the gutters. They waited impatiently for the rain to ease.  Grabbing coats and boots they ran outside. Shouting, laughing and splashing as they made their way down the road, their lungs filling with moist clean, cool air.

Auntie Ethel, apron tied around her ample body, was in her kitchen, her electric whisk beating the pancake batter to its own music. As soon as the rain is down to a drizzle each neighbour will get one of her delicious pancakes. The enticing aroma of the cinnamon mixed with the smell of wet earth and bruised vegetation is a symphony for the senses.



   –  Daphne Jaaback Ley

Cadbury, mouth watering

Heavenly, taste buds tingling

Obesity bedeviling

Cappuccino coupling

Obviously a special thing

Lately have become quite spoilt

As the shops here do support

Trays of assorted chocolate fare

Enticing me to buy and share




Saturdays  – by Daphne Ley

Saturday is the day we meet

At Sainsburys for coffee and something to eat

We consider the world’s  problems from east to west

Global warming, mass migration and all of the rest


Gales of laughter  from  our table of six

Our common history, a powerful mix

Average age just short of eighty

And one perhaps a little weighty.


Weather permitting, most travel on wheels

Bringing up the rear and hot on our heels

Are the ambulant two, one helping the other

The to and fro distance we easily cover.



Red Roses  –  Daphne Ley

Roses are red and violets are blue

A saying familiar to me and to you

The red of the rose has always been known

To herald a passionate, affectionate tone


But, sadly today, on Valentines’s Day

The prices have soared at the floral display

For a dozen red roses the price is extreme

Forty pounds is more than it ever has been



THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY.   – Liz Ceruti


Dear George,

t is ten years now that your statue of man on a horse called “Energy” is proudly standing on a hill in Cape Town.  We have placed it on the grounds of the Rhodes University, which is called after my name.

I am overjoyed, it`s magnificence hasn`t faded over these last ten years. Aptly called “Energy” which describes the feeling of pure strength and energy which exudes from it.

This gift so graciously bestowed on me from you my dear friend George Frederick Watts will be viewed and appreciated for generations to come.  I am enclosing a photo for your perusal. Note how it rises towards the sky, truly capturing the Energy of Man and horse.  May I thank you once again sincerely for your generous gift to me and the people of Africa.

Sincerely,  Cecil.


(Sir George Frederick Watts renown artist and sculptor in London who sculpted the original statue which can be seen in London`s Kensington Gardens has bestowed this gift to me, and allowed a casting to be made and erected in my beloved country South Africa.

My statue stands proudly on this campus for all to enjoy. )



10TH ANNIVERSARY   – by Corinna Turner 

This morn when I awoke

My wife reminded me,

(While giving me a painful poke),

This was our anniversary.


And not just any one, oh no,

Our 10th, good gracious me!

I rushed downstairs to make the tea,
Stubbing my big toe.


While my wife, the bathroom went in.

I checked good old Google

To see that 10 was tin.

Yippee, that wouldn’t cost me too much boodle.


Shouting, See you later,

I reversed the old car out

Just missing a lounging lout,

‘Watch out, you stupid old gator.’


I drove down to the shopping mall,

Parking in the car park,

And nearly had a fall.

When a stray dog did bark.


Without further ado I went in

And headed to my favourite shop,

And after buying a card and pretty tin,

I thought I deserved a dop*.


To the local Slug and Lettuce

I duly did retire

Where I spied my wife, Lettice,

Her eyes sparking with fire.


‘I thought I’d find you here, you louse,

I wondered where you were off to,

Sneaking out like a shifty mouse,

As I came out of the loo.’


‘A sherry for you, dear?’

As I headed for the bar.

Clutching my carrier bag in fear,

To run? No, the door was too far.


Back at the table sipping my drink,

She eyed my bag, in a strop

And in a blink,

Asked, ‘Not the Crazy Shop?’


‘You cheapskate!

Is that all you think of me?’

No loving look, just a look of hate,

Was all that I could see.


‘I haven’t finished yet, my dear,’

As I got up from my seat,

‘I’ll see you  back at home my dear’

As I gained my feet.


I ran to the hardware shop real hard

To make my final purchase.

I wrapped the tin, wrote the card

With a smile upon my face.


Back at the house

I gave Lettice her present.

She snatched it from me, ‘You louse’

As the paper she did rent.


‘Tin?’ she said, looking at me,

As she pulled off the lid,

‘Ooh, chocolates, how nice.

Maybe you’re not such a Yid.’ [apologies]


She gobbled them down

As looked on,

Then I saw her frown.

She looked at me and said, ‘You son…’


The chocolates laced with strychnine,

Gave me more pleasure

For the anniversary of tin,

Than nasty Lettice, my old treasure


Who lies below my deckchair,

The ground buried within.

As I swig my beer, things look set fair

It’s much more fun living alone and in sin!


* dop – South African slang for “a tot, a drink ”.


Here is a satirical fable – a first for our site.

                                A Fable By L.Z. 

The animals were assembled wearing their finest.

“Eat your heart out, Hollywood, we can do designers”

We have the money and our people want to see us looking splendid!

They were waiting for the leader of the hyenas, he was going to make a speech.

They didn`t know what the speech was about and they didn`t care.

But they knew they had to laugh when their leader laughed

They knew their laughter will not be left unnoticed

And will be rewarded handsomely by their leader

He, he….. he, he, he…. he hehe…

And all the other hyenas responded in unison.

The chief hyena spoke with gravity about troubled times looming ahead

How everybody needed “to tighten the belt”

But most of the animals fell asleep

They had heard the same rhetoric many times before

And knew, that if they laughed with the chief hyena

They and their large families will be all right.

One of the black sheep was wearing a pair of 6cm cerise sandals

They looked good on her, but provoked a lot of jealous remarks:

“I wonder who is she going to throw out now, remarked one of the white sheep

When all the animals (including a lot of the hyenas) are angry with the chief?”


The moral of the story:

No matter how high the heels they cannot elevate one out of the moral decay.


Our February/March writing

Autumn Toil  –  Bob  Mc Mahon


September 1


The elusive cat sensed the slightest drop in the air temperature. Not the bite of the winter cold, but just enough to make her aware that the season was changing. In her habitat, more than ten thousand feet up in the rugged mountains and rocky outcrops of Central Asia, the rare and beautiful creature stood rigidly still, listening for the sound of autumn. A sixth sense, cemented into her DNA from a thousand years ago, made the snow leopard listen for the sound of falling rocks and rustling trees. This was a sure sign that others were foraging for food in the early autumn. Winter would not be far away.


The creature had mated in early March, and her three cubs had arrived twelve weeks later. The male had departed, as was the norm, leaving the mother to rear the cubs alone. Summer had passed and the youngsters had grown, but they never ventured far away from her. Now it was the beginning of autumn, and autumn was preparation time for the gruelling winter which would follow.


October 1


Her instinct was to hunt for food, groom her cubs, and fend off any predator who sought to harm them. The one predator her instinct warned her about, more than any other, was man, but she had no built-in defence against modern weapons and technology.


As the weather turned colder and the autumn mists and dampness drifted across the high mountain range, she sought a cave which would provide shelter and warmth for her three precious youngsters. When she found it, she lined the cave with fur groomed from her own luxurious coat, content in the knowledge that she had but one winter with her cubs before they left her forever.


Satisfied that she had done all she could to provide comfort and safety for them, the majestic creature left her lair to hunt for prey. Slow and tense, with a measured step and a shallow heart beat, the feline queen stalked her foe, waiting and waiting in order to remain unseen. The elegant snow leopard had the ability to leap more than thirty feet, propelled by powerful hind limbs. The small mountain goat she had stalked had no chance of escaping her as she waited to pounce.


Then the slightest noise alerted her. It was the trigger action of a hunting rifle being cocked. The big cat disappeared in a blur of speed. Leaping across deep ravines in the rugged mountain landscape, twisting and turning, making herself into an invisible target. The hunter looked on in disbelief as the cat disappeared. But all was not lost.


Her first born cub, the most inquisitive of the three, had followed her to the hunting site. The hunter had no problem hooking the small cub by the folds of his neck and placing him in a deep leather pouch. He could not believe his luck. He had not fired a shot, and now he had a prize specimen – a leopard cub – worth a fortune from those who dealt in the illegal purchase of endangered animals.


From a distance, the mother stared intently, devoid of emotion. As the hunter descended the mountain, and disappeared into the mist and gloom, she was powerless to intervene. She would never see her cub again.


November 1


Nature determined that she had no ability to grieve about her lost cub. Autumn was almost over. There were very few leaves on the trees at that altitude, and even those had fallen onto the hard barren rocks. The days were short and dark, the weather dank and cold. She had done all she could to provide for her remaining family. Man would not venture up the mountain again until spring. The princess of the snow could rest for a while.


My dream writing place …

                     A tranquil and sacred corner in the heart of

                          Temenos Retreat Centre, McGregor

 by Fran Lombard 

      Siloe quietly nestles between willow trees overlooking a rippled pond where birds make their nests in the overgrown reeds. In-between the masses of the ever reliable Plumbagos you get a bird’s-eye view of the little white-washed chapel called ‘The Little Way’.

Siloe, the little blue sanctuary invites me time and time back again to go and do my creative writing there and in times of healing it embraces me with open arms. Thomas Merton reminds us in his book ‘ By the waters of Siloe’, of a man who was blind from birth and got healed by Jesus when he washed himself in the waters of Siloe and could see again. How I can resonate with that story from the scriptures.

Books and notes of inspiration from guests are scattered on the floor … if the needs be, waiting to be picked up and it is just amazing what comes out of that pen once I light a candle, make myself comfortable and stretch out on the built-in couch!

What makes Siloe so precious is that not only does it inspire me to write but it is also a meeting place where friends share their and other writings as well a break-away space when retreats and workshops are held.

There is only one snag though: Siloe is about 190 kilometres from home and I so easily fall into the trap of making excuses not to write because Siloe is so far away !




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