Spiraling

A couple of hours ago I was sitting on my deck, looking out at the Melville Koppies. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and a public holiday to boot. I felt like going for a walk on the koppies and taking pictures.

Six months ago, I would have turned to Jon and said, “Let’s go for a walk on the koppies and take pictures.” And we would have gone right then, and it would have been lovely. But you see, this is one of the many reasons why it sucks when your boyfriend dies. Jon isn’t here anymore and I can’t just walk up onto the koppies alone. Much as I hate to admit it, walking alone on the koppies isn’t safe.

I’m sure I could have found someone else to take a walk with. I didn’t feel like it though.

Since I wasn’t going for a walk, I figured I should get some writing done. I’m trying to write a book about my crazy life. But working on the book is too hard. The things I need to write about make me really sad. So I discarded that idea too.

I felt a bit desperate. This line of thought is dangerous for me. If I start to feel sorry for myself and focus on all the reasons why life isn’t fair, I can quickly become immobilized.

Then my eyes fell on Spiral Aloe.

Spiral Aloe is a special plant. My friend Jeroen bought it in Lesotho a couple of years ago, when it was only three centimeters wide and had four leaves. Spiral aloes are quite rare and require special attention to grow in this climate.

Jeroen is from the Netherlands, and he moved back to Europe last October. He couldn’t take Spiral Aloe with him so he gave it to Jon and me, with strict instructions on how to care for it. We picked up Spiral Aloe the night before Jeroen left. Jon and Lucky planted it in our back garden two days later.

Spiral Aloe on the day it was planted at our house. Sorry, not the best photo.

The following week, all hell broke loose at the Lucky 5 Star. (The full story of what happened will have to wait for my book.) Spiral Aloe was quickly forgotten.

But Spiral Aloe kept growing. I realized recently that, unnoticed, over the course of this horrible summer, Spiral Aloe has become a glorious plant.

Spiral Aloe today.

I spent the afternoon photographing Spiral Aloe. As I examined it from all angles, watching the light shine through its thick leaves, I started to relate to the way Spiral Aloe grows. New leaves grow from the inside, constantly pushing at the outer leaves and forcing them to expand. Eventually the outer leaves shrivel and fall away, making room for the inner leaves. It looks like a painful process. But the result is really beautiful.

I’ve discovered lately that when I’m sad, angry, frustrated, or depressed (or all four), one of the best things I can do is grab my camera and look for something to photograph.

It won’t be easy, but Spiral Aloe and I will keep spiraling. Not spiraling out of control, hopefully. Just spiraling.

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73 Comments

  • Reply Derek Smith April 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Yes – be strong – stay strong – spiral

  • Reply Debra Kolkka April 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Beautiful!

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Yes, it’s an amazing plant :)

  • Reply Debra Kolkka April 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Beautiful!

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      Yes, it’s an amazing plant :)

  • Reply Tilly Bud April 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    You have the soul of a poet. Your text is as strong as your photographs. Write your book. People will read it.

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Linda. That really means a lot coming from you. I will write the book eventually. Damn, it’s hard though!

      • Reply Tilly Bud April 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        The best things usually are :)

  • Reply Tilly Bud April 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    You have the soul of a poet. Your text is as strong as your photographs. Write your book. People will read it.

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Linda. That really means a lot coming from you. I will write the book eventually. Damn, it’s hard though!

      • Reply Tilly Bud April 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        The best things usually are :)

  • Reply Owls April 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Love this.

  • Reply Owls April 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Love this.

  • Reply Howlin' Mad Heather April 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    It really is beautiful. Thanks for sharing a great story and some great photos.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thanks Heather, much appreciated.

  • Reply Howlin' Mad Heather April 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    It really is beautiful. Thanks for sharing a great story and some great photos.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Thanks Heather, much appreciated.

  • Reply Sarah April 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Nature as Teacher, right? Don’t forget the green figs as well, Heather. Your photo helps remind me.
    Green Figs 
    by Edward Hirsch

    I want to live like that little fig tree
        that sprouted up at the beach last spring
            and spread its leaves over the sandy rock.

    All summer its stubborn green fruit
        (tiny flowers covered with a soft skin)
            ripened and grew in the bright salt spray.

    The Tree of the Knowledge of Good
        and Evil was a fig tree, or so it is said,
            but this wild figure was a wanton stray.

    I need to live like that crooked tree—
        solitary, bittersweet, and utterly free—
            that knelt down in the hardest winds

    but could not be blasted away.
        It kept its eye on the far horizon
            and brought honey out of the rock.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Thanks Sarah. I know I’ve said it before but this is a lovely poem.

  • Reply Sarah April 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Nature as Teacher, right? Don’t forget the green figs as well, Heather. Your photo helps remind me.
    Green Figs 
    by Edward Hirsch

    I want to live like that little fig tree
        that sprouted up at the beach last spring
            and spread its leaves over the sandy rock.

    All summer its stubborn green fruit
        (tiny flowers covered with a soft skin)
            ripened and grew in the bright salt spray.

    The Tree of the Knowledge of Good
        and Evil was a fig tree, or so it is said,
            but this wild figure was a wanton stray.

    I need to live like that crooked tree—
        solitary, bittersweet, and utterly free—
            that knelt down in the hardest winds

    but could not be blasted away.
        It kept its eye on the far horizon
            and brought honey out of the rock.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Thanks Sarah. I know I’ve said it before but this is a lovely poem.

  • Reply Jeroen April 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Although I miss the little fella dearly after adopting and raising him from early childhood, I don’t for a moment regret leaving Spiral Aloe in your care and beneath your lens, Heather!
    I think its beauty and strength lies in the fact that it has managed to find an odd, non-linear pattern to follow in life, and stubbornly sticks to these principles it as it grows, come what may. My take: spiraling allows you to look at things from all possible angles, while always coming back to base eventually. We both have a bit of that odd, anti-clockwise-spiraling streak in us too; this is a good thing!
    x J.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

      I’m glad you left him with me too. And well said. xo

  • Reply Jeroen April 28, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Although I miss the little fella dearly after adopting and raising him from early childhood, I don’t for a moment regret leaving Spiral Aloe in your care and beneath your lens, Heather!
    I think its beauty and strength lies in the fact that it has managed to find an odd, non-linear pattern to follow in life, and stubbornly sticks to these principles it as it grows, come what may. My take: spiraling allows you to look at things from all possible angles, while always coming back to base eventually. We both have a bit of that odd, anti-clockwise-spiraling streak in us too; this is a good thing!
    x J.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

      I’m glad you left him with me too. And well said. xo

  • Reply Dienna April 28, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    It does look like taking photos of those lovely aloe plants had a therapeutic effect, though.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Thanks. Photography is indeed like therapy for me. First of all because I enjoy it, and second of all because it makes me feel close to Jon and remember how much he taught me.

  • Reply Dienna April 28, 2012 at 2:35 am

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    It does look like taking photos of those lovely aloe plants had a therapeutic effect, though.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Thanks. Photography is indeed like therapy for me. First of all because I enjoy it, and second of all because it makes me feel close to Jon and remember how much he taught me.

  • Reply Spiral Dreamer (Francis) April 28, 2012 at 3:21 am

    This post is so beautiful, the pictures and your words combine to create a whole made of the past, present and future. In my mind you are evolving like the Aloe, planting roots in a new soil and accepting what came each day and growing. :)

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Thank you Francis. This is a beautiful comment. I read it when I first woke up this morning and cried a little.

  • Reply Spiral Dreamer (Francis) April 28, 2012 at 3:21 am

    This post is so beautiful, the pictures and your words combine to create a whole made of the past, present and future. In my mind you are evolving like the Aloe, planting roots in a new soil and accepting what came each day and growing. :)

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Thank you Francis. This is a beautiful comment. I read it when I first woke up this morning and cried a little.

  • Reply catherine April 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Aloes are survivors…and you are too, as Francis says so well in the post above.And I continue to be awed by the beauty of the photographs that you take and the beauty of what you express and how you express it.I wish you all the best, Heather, and thank you .

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Thanks Catherine. Much appreciated.

  • Reply catherine April 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Aloes are survivors…and you are too, as Francis says so well in the post above.And I continue to be awed by the beauty of the photographs that you take and the beauty of what you express and how you express it.I wish you all the best, Heather, and thank you .

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Thanks Catherine. Much appreciated.

  • Reply clover58 April 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    A friend shared your post with me and I”m glad he did. Beautiful photos of this special plant, and wonderful, inspirational story to go with them. You will be alright, in the end!

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Clover. I really appreciate it. I think I’ve seen some of your posts on Francis’ blog!

  • Reply clover58 April 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    A friend shared your post with me and I”m glad he did. Beautiful photos of this special plant, and wonderful, inspirational story to go with them. You will be alright, in the end!

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 8:13 am

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Clover. I really appreciate it. I think I’ve seen some of your posts on Francis’ blog!

  • Reply rumpydog April 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    It’s a lovely plant. I’m glad you found some comfort. xxx

  • Reply rumpydog April 28, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    It’s a lovely plant. I’m glad you found some comfort. xxx

  • Reply The Week That Was: Good Things Come In Threes « Prawn And Quartered April 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

    […] Spiraling at 2Summers.Heather has a real ability to combine beautiful photography with thought-provoking prose. I was having a bad day at the time and this post helped make it better. […]

  • Reply The Week That Was: Good Things Come In Threes « Prawn And Quartered April 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

    […] Spiraling at 2Summers.Heather has a real ability to combine beautiful photography with thought-provoking prose. I was having a bad day at the time and this post helped make it better. […]

  • Reply barbaramattio April 29, 2012 at 4:42 am

    I am also a widow so I understand some of your feelings. I loved the pictures of the aloe and I believe this is a wonderful symbol of you recreating your life in away that will lead to growth and more self-awareness. Good luck. I will be following you. :)

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Thanks very much. It’s nice to know there are people out there who understand. I’m sorry for your loss.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, too.

      • Reply barbaramattio April 30, 2012 at 12:36 am

        Well, the object is walking through the grief an coming out on the other side knowing there is still life.

  • Reply barbaramattio April 29, 2012 at 4:42 am

    I am also a widow so I understand some of your feelings. I loved the pictures of the aloe and I believe this is a wonderful symbol of you recreating your life in away that will lead to growth and more self-awareness. Good luck. I will be following you. :)

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Thanks very much. It’s nice to know there are people out there who understand. I’m sorry for your loss.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, too.

      • Reply barbaramattio April 30, 2012 at 12:36 am

        Well, the object is walking through the grief an coming out on the other side knowing there is still life.

  • Reply thirdeyemom April 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    What a beautiful post Heather.

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you.

      • Reply thirdeyemom April 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm

        The poem is gorgeous too. Hope you are hanging in there.

        • Reply 2summers April 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

          Thanks Nicole. I am hanging in there, with the help of all of you!

  • Reply thirdeyemom April 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    What a beautiful post Heather.

    • Reply 2summers April 29, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you.

      • Reply thirdeyemom April 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm

        The poem is gorgeous too. Hope you are hanging in there.

        • Reply 2summers April 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

          Thanks Nicole. I am hanging in there, with the help of all of you!

  • Reply eremophila May 1, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I remember a day when my body hurt so much, all I could do was sit on the ground in my garden, with my camera, and focus on something other than my pain. It worked.
    Spirals make a beautiful pattern…. :-)

    • Reply 2summers May 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I’m very sorry you have to remember a day like that. But I’m glad you can relate.

  • Reply eremophila May 1, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I remember a day when my body hurt so much, all I could do was sit on the ground in my garden, with my camera, and focus on something other than my pain. It worked.
    Spirals make a beautiful pattern…. :-)

    • Reply 2summers May 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I’m very sorry you have to remember a day like that. But I’m glad you can relate.

  • Reply Deano May 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Heather,
    I’m sure your book will be a good one! In the meantime, hang in there. Things have to (and will) get better.

    Deano

    • Reply 2summers May 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Dean. All my love to Mary.

  • Reply Deano May 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Heather,
    I’m sure your book will be a good one! In the meantime, hang in there. Things have to (and will) get better.

    Deano

    • Reply 2summers May 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks Dean. All my love to Mary.

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