1 September, Spring Day, in the southern hemisphere, was always the day the public swimming pools opened in Johannesburg when I was a child. I’m sitting on my lovely “stoep” catching the last warmth of the setting sun. I tried dipping my feet into my pool and they became completely numb, so no swimming for me until it warms up a bit. Last night was again – 4 degrees Celcius, and today it has reached a high of 34 degrees. A time for wrapping up at night, and stripping off layers during the day.
On the horizon, I can still see smoke from a fire in the vicinity which started four days ago, and with strong winds hasn’t yet been successfully put out. Alhyrian and myself, with staff help, were involved with helping on Sunday after we had sorted out our bowser (water sprayer). We spent about 2 hours trying to sort out where we would be most useful and sprayed where we could before returning home. Most of the other local farmers are experienced, have strong 4 x 4 vehicles and useful walkie-talk phones to communicate with one another. It was distressing to see ground and tree nesting birds circling and buffalo and Blesbok on the game farm we were on terrified by the fire. The cattle had all been driven to more safety. This fire season is always a tense and destructive time for all.
It has been a very quiet time for the centre with few activities or casual visitors and retreat folk.
Alan has relocated to Johannesburg to live with his ailing mother, and offer more to growing activities in the city where Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and Ani Lhamo are in residence at the Kensington temple site. We will all miss his gentle, humorous and kind presence at the centre. Sadly few people seem interested in longer retreats. Tara’s valley retreat site is dormant and vulnerable as an empty complex.
There are changes in progress around the Training Centre side which will hopefully be resolved soon.
Tirisano crèche in Rietvaly has been a bit of a yoyo, opening and closing with the confusing levels of lockdown ever-changing. It has now been open for about 3 weeks and we hope it can remain open for a while. Rebecca one of the child stimulation people has been away but we hope she will return before too long to support Keba and Anna.
On the broader environment scene, anti-prospecting and mining battles in our biosphere continue. I am thankfully extremely skilfully guided by Brian and Jeannie from Mmutlwa wa Noko with my objection submissions on behalf of TRC. It is a difficult time with a big push for mining on the national agenda. I’m reminded of the late Akong Rinpoche saying “ the removal of metals and precious stones from the earth is like removing needed organs from a human body”. On his last visit here he buried 5 bompas on Temple Hill saying they were to give back to the earth to try to balance all we were removing from it.

We hope the warmer weather and less restricting lockdowns will bring more people back to enjoy our healing environment.

Pippa Cope,

September 2021