For this week’s Look Closer, What am I, from details to the big picture, I chose green, or it rather chose me. It is winter here, in South Africa and it feels wrong (to the Northern hemisphere born self) to still see so many green trees around, and roses blooming in our rosebushes, the Bougainvillea with its regal magenta flowers smiling at a clear aquamarine sky – forever depleted of snow.
Yet green it’s good… When I look at this patch of green I can see the veins from my wrist and the lines of my palm, my life and my future are in it.
A whisper of wind can make it shiver, yet the leaf does not break; it bends under its strength, pretend to bow at its will. Yes, I hear you, it seems to acknowledge the wind – but does it really?
Leaves are building blocks, nature’s shards of stained glass windows.
Leaves are past and present and future, a memory and a warning.
Leaves are nature’s collection of rare moments.
Leaves are the reminder that the vain will pass and perish and the youth will, eventually, decay.
Leaves are the reminder that all that’s different to the eye is, elementary, similar.
Look Closer, What am I, Green… for nothing is what is seems. See with your mind, not with your eyes.
I’ll leave you with a short poem:
Three salmon shade hens Dance. Feathered feet, ten toes each. A bright green worm stretched.
Subscribe to my e-Newsletter for fun and informative content:
The vast majority write out of a desire to share their experience with other people. Sharing something imparts a feeling of usefulness. Some people say they write for pleasure, others that say they write out of a desire to inform their peers. Others say they write for the sake of competition.
Nothing in this world is done without a reason because in addition to existential needs, people need much more.
But can literature change people, providing that people want to change?
We are rational beings, we socialize and we need to express our feelings and to see them echoed in others. We need to leave a mark behind us, footprints in the sand. So we write. Some of us.
Perhaps all the reasons why people write are based on the simple pleasure of writing.
So, why do people write?
Writing is therapeutic. The white paper listens to you and does not judge you. It accepts everything you want to give, the countless revisions too, without getting upset. It doesn’t matter if you write well or bad, the simple fact of putting your thoughts on paper frees you and gives you clarity and peace of mind. At least during the present moment. When it counts.
Writing clarifies the mind. If you can’t explain something to others, then you don’t understand it very well either. As you write, you reveal the knots in your thinking and force yourself to untangle them. I know I do.
Writing helps you learn. When I research for a book I need information in addition to what I already know. I have to document myself on so many levels, setting, politics, weather, customs, folklore, lifestyle, language, so I write everything down. Doesn’t all research go like this?
Writing helps one become more creative. As I try to express myself better I think of metaphors, comparisons or examples that sometimes link different ideas, feelings or situations. An exercise such as this, done for years, helps creativity, because it becomes easier to make unexpected connections.
Writing improves the memory and sprouts new ideas and thoughts. If I go back to stories I wrote five, ten years ago, I recognize the seed of an idea I developed only recently. But also anxieties I put out of my mind, because I wrote about them. Or events that I remember differently now, in a somehow detached way.
Writing urges you to read. As Stephen King said,’ If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.’ And reading comes with its long list of benefits.
Writing teaches you to receive criticism. From mischievous comments to justified feedback, I got used to digesting everything and taking the essentials. While keeping some thoughts (and a smile) to myself.
Writing helps one become more empathetic. When I write something, anything, I have to put myself in the character’s skin, be it human or a doggo. It’s experiencing a second life while, at the same time, teaching me to take a step back and see things into perspective, while in my own skin.
Why do I write?
Writing bought me a cup of coffee, although I traded the security of a medical career for it. But it gives me the satisfaction of creating something with my own two hands (and with my mind and soul). Like baking or carpentry. Like architecture (my first love). Writing has never disappointed me and I have never felt drained, used up in an emotional way after writing. Exhausted, but energized at the same time. Okay, there are moments of despair here and now.
I write about people so as not to forget them, so as not to forget the good vibes they made me feel.
I write about people just to keep those parts of them that have managed to change certain parts of me or that have made me feel more than I thought I could feel.
Do animals experience emotions, do they show this by spontaneous changes in their behavior? And, as a result of the emotions they experience, do they have feelings?
The Incredible Friendship Between a BEAR, a LION and a TIGER
It was the beginning of the 21st century when three cubs were rescued from the home of a drug dealer where they were kept illegally as pets. Severely malnourished and scared, the salvation for an American Black bear cub, an African lion cub and a Bengal tiger cub came through Noah’s Ark Animal sanctuary.
This is when the cubs’ true friendship revealed itself. As the bear required an emergency operation, the lion and tiger cubs became agitated while their friend was gone. They refused food, paced their enclosure, vocalized and only stopped when the bear was safely returned to them. After this, the three cubs spent their entire time close together, clinging to one another for comfort and safety. They were named Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan.
The bear, the lion and the tiger soon matured, yet they continued sharing the same habitat, playing, eating together and grooming one another. And they did so for 17 years. Sadly, Leo and Shere Khan passed away in 2016 and 2018 respectively, and Baloo was there for them in their final hours.
In the wild, Asian black bears and tigers do share the same territory in the Far East, but when they do meet, one of them is sure to be badly injured.
The Heartwarming Friendship Between a CHIMPANZEE and a DOG
There are quite a few cute chimps that struck lovely friendship with dogs, an undeniable proof that social connections between animals do mimic those between humans and their pets.
Often, when a chimp and a dog became friends it was the puppy who came to the baby chimp’s emotional rescue. Too many chimps are slaves of the illegal pet trade, and when they are finally rescued are found to be orphans.
What would happen, I asked myself, if a dog and a chimp met in the wild? Would they still play? Would they play fetch, perhaps? Pull faces at each other? Share naps?
The Unbelievable Friendship Between a CHEETAH and a DOG
Yes, cats and dogs can be friends. What about a wild cat and a canine? One such incredible pair were Kasi the cheetah and Mtani the Labrador. Mtani means “close friend” in Swahili.
What if the cheetah and the dog would meet in the wild, on the African planes? Would the mama-cheetah allow? Would the dog have human friends who would interfere with their unusual friendship?
The Amazing Friendship Between a LION and a DOG
A cute, brown Dachshund dog called Milo struck a remarkable friendship with a massive lion named Bonedigger when the latter became disabled due to illness. Somehow, the canine made its way to the sad lion’s heart and took the beast under his wing and the two remained the best of friends, even five years later. None of them cared that one weighs 11 pounds, while the other 500 pounds.
Enjoy their beautiful friendship evolving throughout the seasons:
The Loving Friendship Between an ELEPHANT and a SHEEP
Albert the sheep and Themba the elephant live in Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. Sadly, the elephant calf became an orphan after his mother died falling down a cliff. After a rocky start… the pair’s relationship blossomed, and they became the best of friends and Themba the elephant calf blossomed.
You can follow and enjoy their adventures in this book:
Green are the leaves that grow between birds Outside my window, playing hide and seek with the sky. And green are the last of my vineyard’s hopes too, Among rusty leaves, the last of a summer of grapes.
Green are my thoughts, the ones you see through my eyes – Is my soul green? I surely hope it still is. And green are the thoughts I keep in my heart, For they are not ripe-green yet.
For green is good, I think, As long as aplenty green things there are. The singular green frightens me, envious and cold, Therefore green is good in a bunch.
For green were the seas of my childhood tales Of maidens who could and princes who dared, a tad. And green were my teen years, When I thought I could do it all, like them.
Green are the spines on my bookshelves now, And a magic green pencil lays on my desk For the times inspiration fails me, I pick it and its energy handwrites me new tales.
Green are my hopes that end one more decade, And I think that’s pretty cool too. For green speaks of more springs to come, Of harvests of hopes, and a future in green.
If you enjoyed ‘Green Are… Poem and Photography from my Garden’ you might also like to read:
We’ve had a lovely summer here, with long and beautiful days and evenings ideal to read under the shade of a tree while enjoying a little treat, thus pairing books with chocolate sprang to life from the pages of many novels.
I’ve heard of pairing books with wine, so why not with chocolate? Books affect each reader in a different way; two people will describe the same chocolate in various ways. We understand and absorb a book through the perspective of our past experiences. We taste chocolate not only with our taste buds, but though all five senses: smell, sight, taste, touch, even by hearing.
‘We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
Take a break with me. Discover new reads or new flavors of chocolate. And if you don’t have any nearby, don’t worry. At the end of this blog post there is a 1 minute, tried and tested, no-egg microwave brownie recipe 🙂 Our favorite!
In no particular order I paired:
A Convenant of Spies – Daniel Kemp
Unexpectedly unbreakable, but giving in if you know how to take it. Definitely not what it reveals to the eye. Gentle browns of a hard milk chocolate with extra cocoa, spicy with a hint of spirits that reveals itself on the back of the tongue.
Much like Daniel Kemp’s A Covenant Of Spies deals with British Intelligence investigating Russian operative. But look beyond the cover, to a complex tale featuring a net of lies and political cover-ups that will make you doubt tomorrow’s news headlines. An entertaining story of 21st century spies and tales of the Cold War sprinkled with clues till the end, it reminded me of Bridge of Spies. Book four in the ‘Lies and Consequences’ series, espionage, mystery thriller and crime. Daniel Kemp blogs here.
Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words by Sally Cronin
Mersi is an indulgent assortment of fine milk chocolate, nutty pralines, or bitter-sweet dark bites to spoil your taste buds with a new surprise in each tablet. Just like life itself.
I chose to pair Cronin’s Life’s Rich Tapestry with a selection of Merci chocolates because her book offers an indulgent collection of short stories, micro fiction and poetry that match so many of life’s moments. Her book made me smile and dream, it brought chuckles and it even made my eyes wet. Is a book you want to read on, as the author is a gifted writer, each chapter in her book a temptation, and so are the illustrations. An appreciated work of literary fiction. Sally blogs here.
Vanished by Mark Bierman
Dark, strong, and intense, chocolate at its finest and not for the soft-hearted, yet with a subtle aroma of raspberries and a salty aftertaste that only accentuates the quality of its cocoa. This is a no-mess, straight forward taste that lingers long after you ate it. Memorable.
Bierman’s novel Vanished reminded me of James Clavell’s King Rat. Much like Clavell, Bierman reels in the reader from the first chapter. The book blends the reality of everyday life in Haiti with the race of finding a missing child believed to be abducted by slave traders. Bierman will not allow you to shield your eyes from the reality of human trafficking. What he does wonderfully and makes this book worth a read is getting the reader to root for the two main characters, as well as for those oppressed. You will be drawn into their lives and hold thumbs, prying for a happy ending. Modern fiction at its best, shining a spotlight on the tragedy of child trafficking. A book with a powerful and important message. Mark Bierman blogs here.
Alfonso and the Monster (A Royal Tortoise Tale) by Susan Moffat
Imagine a cup of hot chocolate topped with tiny marshmallows. Soft and creamy, a joy to look at and a bliss in every sip. Marshmallows melting on the tongue, bringing back the cherished memory of camping fires and the tingling of Christmas.
I read Susan’s previous two books featuring adorable Alfonso, a snail prince, and became attached to this sweet little guy. This time he’s in the Land of Garden (how adorable this sounds!) and he tries his best at fighting what he imagines to be a monster, and does so in a very entertaining way. My favorite part must have been Alfonso’s facial expressions, Susan is a gifted artist.
When my kids were young I always chose gentle books for bedtime and they loved stories about animals who could talk. I would have chosen this one for sure ad they would have loved it. Susan blogs here.
The Memories We Bury by H. A. Leuschel
Hand made chocolate confectionery is a lush decadence I rarely I indulge in. With an inviting, sweet, outer shell dripping with a bitter espresso syrup, it surprises by offering a third flavor once you sink your teeth in. A trio of sinful almond, sweet milk chocolate, and dark coffee syrup – which one will dominate?
I had to pair this chocolate with Leuschel’s latest release, The Memories We Bury. Alternating between the POVs of its two main characters, The Memories We Bury weaves an intricate story of trust and betrayal, of a past we cannot run away from, a story that balances on the thin line bordering the healthy from the ill mind. While a third character watches from the shadows. Which is friend and which is foe? Highly recommend if you love books that delve into human psychology. Discover Helene here.
Academic Curveball: A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 1) by James J. Cudney
When I need comfort food or a pick-me-up desert, there is nothing like an old-fashioned chocolate fudge with its magical blend of aromas and textures. Slightly crunchy and chewy, salty, dark cocoa that turns into spice as it melts into a creamy dream. Pure indulgence.
So are classical cozy mysteries, like Cudney’s Academic Curveball, Braxton Campus Mysteries #1. This book is more than a mystery, it has a complex plot that reminded me of Christie’s writing (one of my all-time favorite authors), and plenty of intrigue too. You will discover a main character (a writer!) well penned, and on a mission amid old friends and new encounters, all in the world of academia. It is a book you will not want to put down till it’s end, a veritable a-ha moment. Well worth it, from an author you will want to remember. Listed as teen and young adult detectives and humorous fiction. James Cudney blogs here.
Dead Dry Heart by Toni Pike
I always wanted to compare chocolates that are not displayed in an assortment box. Mahogany, autumn brown, creamy white, all shades feasting the eye. To have the luxury of listening to the sound each slab makes as I snap a piece. Piling the broken chocolate shards with their various bits of nuts exposed. The anticipation of the first crispy bite, melting in various aromas, an explosion of cool, acidic cocoa, milky vanilla, and earthly nuts.
Crime noir and psychological thrillers are very much like this. Similar, yet different reads. Pike’s Dead Dry Heart is a crispy autumn brown fueled by the heat of an unforgiving Australian sun. When the past you want to forget comes back to haunt you at a time when, finally, all works out in your life, what is there to do? Stay on the side of the law or do anything to save your present life, the one you worked so hard towards? And, if someone helped you once, how much do you owe them? Decisions I surely don’t want to ever be faced with. A book with unexpected turns that will keep you reading past your bedtime, a main character you will develop mixed feelings towards, and even a few four-legged furry friends 🙂 Toni Pike blogs here.
Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D. L. Finn
The creamy, delicate flavor, never the same, of a box of chocolate assortments is poetry on the tongue. Quality milk chocolate crisp on the bite, only to release rivulets of various experiences, sweet, then salty, fruity, then buttery, spicy or creamy.
They compliment perfectly the harmony of Finn’s poetry selection. I don’t know about you, but I always find a moment for poetry in a day. Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul meets you with poems abut the beauty of nature, but also about emotions and life’s encounters. Either section you choose, Finn’s poetry will sooth raw emotions, but raise questions as well, for isn’t this one of the reasons we return to poems? By reading of another human being’s experiences we can overcome our own sad moments. By allowing a poet to uplift us, we relive a joyful experience, perhaps long forgotten. This is the magic of poetry and Finn is a master painter with her well chosen words. Highly recommended for your bedside table. Denise Finn blogs here.
The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure (Fauna Park Tales) by Maretha Botha
What can be sweeter than donuts glazed with chocolate? Crunchy when you bite, your teeth sinking in fluffy, heavenly soft doughnut. Pinks, stripes, stars, playful rings, bouncy shapes like a birthday jumping castle. No one can resist a doughnut!
Maretha Botha’s The Orphans’ Plight: An African Adventure is a wonderful addition to her Fauna Park Tales. Told through the eyes oh Hope the owl, it shows how dangerous life can be even in rural Africa. I liked the fact that animals could speak and we, as readers, could understand them. The illustrations are works of art on their own, created with such insight by the author herself. They compliment the story and are abundant in details. And, YAY, there is a dog too, Flame, and he has unusual sniffing abilities 🙂 Great read for smaller grades, lots to look at and plenty to learn, do allow your child to give it a try. Maretha blogs here.
1 minute Microwave, Egg-less Brownie – Tried and tested (and finished in under 1 minute)
If you walk through the garden and follow the path, Past the spot where the dogs love to nap, Past the corner and up a step, Past the grass that’s half sun, half shade…
If you step where the grass grows, escaping the cut And watch your step for the ‘bombs’ planted by dogs, And through the pool’s gate you go – If the vineyard guarding the padlock will allow…
If you stop and listen, hear the grass call, And past the wild garlic you stroll, You could stop by the old branch or you could go on, It is up to you. But you’re near the end, so push on…
Past the place where the fairies come out at night, See, they left an umbrella behind, Got caught in the Pinkhead Knotweed, The sweet scented snowballs that blush with ease…
Hold your breath for a second, then take a bow, Introduce yourself to the Rose, the aim of your stroll And eight years King at the End of my Garden – Past the brick path And the grass half shade and half sun, Over the dog bombs, Through the gate, Past the wild garlic, Along the old log, And the fairies’ umbrella, At the end of each day’s stroll.