Enough for all if we don’t steal from the ocean 

Stephen's Scribble

I was sitting on the beach the other morning with my vegan friend I could see these were old hands at this … A couple of guys were absolutely smashing the Shad in front us…. putting back the smaller ones and keeping some beauties. As the one guy was reeling in a feisty one, I was thinking how delicious a pan fried Shad would be to take home for breakfast and cursing myself for not bringing my rod with me. It was just then when she turned around to me and said, “Don’t you think they’ve got enough? Those poor fish!” I was a little lost for words actually.

Stephen's Scribble - Fishing in St Francis

Having worked with passionate marine conservationists over the years I am well aware that our oceans are in big trouble. We should never lose site of the fact however that there is a BIG difference between commercial fishing and recreational fishing. Both have boundaries and codes of ethics. Some legislated, some not. At the heart of this lies the individual that is doing the catching. When it comes to sustainability it is the character of those individuals who can make or break things.

Here in the greater St Francis region there are a LOT of fishermen. They’re a huge part of our culture and history. It’s more than an institution or sport …. I would liken it more to a religion.

Packing one’s gear the night before. Gently informing the missus and telling her what time you’ll be back. (more or less). Checking the tides. Scoring the bait. The weather. The sea temperature and visibility. The early wake up. The walk to the spot you’d found recently. Baiting the hook and casting out as the sun creeps over the horizon. That feeling as you stand with your finger on the nylon as your mind finally goes into neutral. The anticipation as you feel that “duk …duk …duk” on the line. Then the “graggadukdukduk” knowing you’re ON! The rush of the fight and the thrill of landing a ‘Boytjie’!

It’s epic stuff. But let me not leave out the best part. Later on … your family and friends around the fire telling fishing stories and enjoying a delicious freshly foraged meal. Questions like “So where did you catch this one Mike?” Answers like “There on the other side my Bru” …. Don’t for one moment think that a fisherman is going to give away secrets that easily! Gotta love the fishing banter around a fire …..

Fishing subculture runs deep. It’s been written into folklore for centuries. I believe most of our fishing fraternity DO respect the ocean and understand what fish are okay to catch and which are less so. Developing that consciousness can only enhance ones love and respect for the ocean and it’s continued (localised) abundance. Every now and again it’s good to ask oneself, “How can I fish more responsibly?”

We have much to be grateful for, lets not take things for granted. Here’s to all the locals who regard Mother Ocean as their church. This stuff runs deep for many of us and is worth honouring. A special shout out to those are helping fight the battle against the devastating exploitation further offshore … Massive respect to you! I have visions of the “St Francis Sea Shepard” … no doubt there’ll be no shortage of crew members.

Back on the beach, as I sat there pondering my vegan friend’s question, (and the bigger picture) it got answered right before my eyes. I looked up and checked the ‘Ballie’ we’d been watching thread six fat Shad onto a nylon rope, rinse them in the sea, pack his bag and head off down the beach. Enough for the braai later with some friends…. and a few (carefully edited) stories. With renewed enthusiasm and a little stoke for the Ou I retorted, “He’s got the perfect amount and they’re nutritious and delicious!” …. She just rolled her perfect, deep brown, militant eyes at me …. “Oh look” I said … “There’s an Oyster Catcher over there!”

Stephen Praetorious

Article by Stephen Praetorious

Bad News Sells but surely Good News should Rule!

Stephen's Scribble

I’ve always found it fascinating that there is always a primary drama playing out on the planet. No doubt there are a host of other major things going down simultaneously but I’m referring to that “one big story” that captures headlines all over the world. It’s fascinating how it gathers momentum, sustains for a period of time then ultimately peters out. So many questions …. What sustains them? Why are 99% of them awful? What causes the story to finally come to an end? Does it even come to an end? Any why, when it apparently does, immediately, without fail another equally ghastly one appears?

We are all aware that we find ourselves in a pandemic which is indeed a MAJOR story …. but, and here’s the scary part … what other major happenings are unfolding “behind the scenes” and not even getting reported? North Korea, China, the war on terror, Brexit, global warming, the global financial crisis, genocide in Africa, deforestation, human rights violations, the fight for space, GM food, animal rights, fossil fuel exploitation, water shortages, the plight of our oceans et etc. The list is endless but sadly all these other issues seem to be on the back burner now. Undoubtedly, here’s still a LOT going down but our attention has yet again been diverted to that one big story. Feeling better about things? Somehow I very much doubt it.

Like vultures to a kill us humans seem to be drawn to stories that scare the living daylights out of us. It’s kinda weird. I’m going to tack out of this shitstorm, it’s not my intention to exacerbate the fear. Quite to the contrary, the purpose of this article is more about how to help manage that fear. Every one of these things I’ve mentioned don’t exactly evoke that ‘feel good’ feeling do they? That is pretty much how it is with so many news stories. Nonetheless there is a HUGE amount of fantastic stuff going on as well. It is important to acknowledge HOW the information we receive, affects us in our daily lives. We still have a choice on what we receive (and share), yet are we exercising it consciously?

By way of an example, a great friend of mine became addicted (by his own admission) to the plight of the Republicans, “Trump hopeism” and how the American election was stolen. It literally consumed him for well over 6 months. Now because he was so passionate about his cause, he shared his views far and wide. I’ll be honest, at times I got sucked into the drama of his story getting all riled up over things. That didn’t always serve me well. It was nonetheless highly educational and taught me fantastic lesson regarding my own compass and navigating my own course.

Spreading fear and influencing other people negatively can be done without one even realising. It’s very easy to do, in fact it happens all the time, right here in sleepy St Francis. There is a lot of not very good things going on at the moment, we are all well aware of that. Nonetheless we should try and not play into tragedy and a doom and gloom scenario too much. It is important to create a balance. From time to time go and read a story or two from “South Africa the good news” or “The good things guy”, it’s amazing how it can lift ones mood. Pick up an inspirational book or delve into a new hobby. Get out more, honour your body with healthy food and exercise. There is so much to be grateful for, it’s a wonderful feeling to acknowledge our many many blessings. Shifting ones attention makes for an interesting positive thing to share with friends. Starting a sentence by saying “Isn’t it just wonderful” as against “It’s just awful” is going to evoke two very different emotions in the person who is listening to you.

Believe it or not, this Covid story will eventually no longer be in the headlines. Yes, I have every expectation that it will be followed by yet another harrowing one but that doesn’t detract from the fact that for every sad story there’s a happy one (albeit that many remain unwritten). Here’s to you continuing weave positive stories in your life …….. Have an awesome day.

Stephen Praetorius

Now watch and listen to what Charles Groenhuijsen has to say on the subject

 

Midnight wake served up with mielies

Level 5 lock down feels like quite a while ago. A distant memory and one better forgotten perhaps. Nonetheless I found myself reminiscing the other day about that time. I’m guessing a “mixed bag” of stuff came up for most us. Talking about the good memories is always more fun (and keeps things brief) so here we go …..

Having spent a lot of my life at sea, I’ve never really grown veggies. Suddenly, with the world about to friggin’ end, I thought it was a good time to start. So after consulting a few of the organically minded people in our community, I set about getting this story together. Let me tell you something, it’s been a journey ever since. Yes, I have definitely harvested some delicious greens but those salads, herbs and ‘what not’ have come at a price.

Raised beds with plenty of sunshine, organic supersonic soil, compost, the best seedlings, rain water tanks, digging and planting et etc …. Getting the operation on the go was a THING, but it was awesome! Watching all the goedjties growing and watering them was so lekker. By the fourth week of lock down I even began talking to my veggies for goodness sake. They/we couldn’t have been happier! This was the best thing ever …. and it was going swimmingly well. May I assure you there’s nothing better than a home grown green juice to fire one up ….. (especially when contemplating an ‘illegal’ dawn dash to the beach for a swim!)

And then level 5 became 4 …. then 3. What a shame …. In true Piscean style the fad waned. Still a few bits and bobs in the garden these days I suppose. Nonetheless, the Spring veggie garden was somewhat less impressive than the Winter one. A sin in the eyes of my staunch vegetarian friends perhaps but cést’ la vie …. and it goes on.

I think it was during level “who can even remember” when a top China of mine pops in for visit. He’s the most well ‘travelled in Africa’ person I know. He’s en route home after visiting another brother in the deep north Eastern Cape. And he comes bearing gifts. A handful of mielie kernels from brother Joe’s garden up there in the gammadoelas. I planted them about a week after he left. No compost and what not this time, these things are supposed to be tough right!? True that …. a week later all of them have come up. I’m pretty stoked actually. Having shoved a few dry yellow things into a “will get to it one day” section of the garden, there were now well over a dozen healthy little plants. I commended myself at my awesome green fingers and began to watch my mielie plants grow. I also watered them even weeded in between them once or twice.

Steve's milelies

Steve’s Mielie Crop

When they were quite young maybe at three weeks or so (just over a foot high) the first assault went down. In the middle of the night of course. It’s ALWAYS in the middle of the night and I never seem to hear a thing. Next morning I see the hoof prints in the soil. A Bushbuck had enjoyed a pre-dawn snack, destroying two and giving several others an unwelcome haircut. I guess I was kind of philosophical about it. I mean he hadn’t destroyed everything and it was kinda cool that he had to sneaked passed my bedroom window to get there. Cheeky Shit ….

And so the rest of my mielies plants prospered! It didn’t matter what the level was. Whether the level went up or the level went down, the mielies just grew and grew. It was fantastic! I likened them to rescue animals … somewhat traumatised but with an incredible zest for life. And if you think plants don’t give back, think again …. a few weeks ago the first mielies appeared. I was ecstatic. On a few plants two even! As the weeks rolled by they got fatter and fatter. It was literally 3 days ago when I was thinking “these beauties have got about a week to go”. I could almost taste that juicy mielie smothered in butter on my plate.

Then somewhere in the very early hours of 18 January, a second devastating assault. This time the perpetrators sneaked underneath the house. The carnage was gut wrenching. All but two of my incredible mielie plantation …. destroyed. Those glorious two plus metre plants dripping with the fruits of my labour, almost entirely consumed.

After picking one of the last three remaining mielies I retreated inside crestfallen. It wasn’t quite so easy to be as magnanimous this time. How on earth could this be? There was barely anything left at all for goodness sake! The whole LOT pretty much eaten!

The answer came in the late afternoon. It finally all made sense why this had happened …. Clearly, there had been death in the porcupine community and the wake had been at my place! Don’t those little blighters know we’re on level “Whatsit” ….

Stephen Praetorius

 

A triple tragedy

Added to the tragedies is news just received of a further tragedy with the death of Kastine Burgers who passed away on Friday from a suspected asthma attack. Kastine worked at Pam Golding as holiday rental assistant to Krystal Scott. Kastine will be remembered for her cheerfulness and her passion for surfing. Hulett’s surfing will not be as much fun without her. RIP Kastine and condolences to her family and friends.

Steve Praetorious looks at the sad start to 2021

The 2020 holiday season has been different for everybody this year. Nobody expected Covid-19 to take up so much space in the Christmas stocking. It was like an unwelcome ‘gift’ that we were all forced to unwrap. In true South African spirit most people manage to make the most of family time, hoping that 2021 will be a better year. For three local families however, tragedy stuck early.

A warm hearted hard working restaurateur taken way before his time. Known for its fabulous high quality food, fine wines and relaxed family ambience, Peri’s has lost its heartbeat. His ability to make time for his patrons was second to none. A unique character with a mischievous sense of humour that loved making his patrons feel extra special. A very special man with an incredible zest for life. He was living his dream, following his passion in top gear. Then from one month to the next he’s gone. So very sad.

Also, a well known policeman and respected community member was tragically murdered while investigating a case in Storms River. Stabbed in the early evening, emergency services were desperately slow to respond. The wound had severed an artery but should never have been fatal. Eventually driven to hospital over 50 km away in his own car, Hendrico only received treatment nearly two hours after the incident, by which time it was too late.

Lastly, an 8 year old boy, wobbling along on his bicycle tragically run over on the R330 by a bakkie. An awful accident with gut wrenching consequences. He didn’t stand a chance. His body lay there for hours until the coroner finally arrived. A large crown gathered around. A visceral image of life (and death) in Africa.

For three families, life has been turned completely upside down. No parent deserves to loose a child. It makes my stomach lurch to think about the deep anguish they must be feeling. From one moment to the next, a perfectly healthy vibrant human being …. no longer.

One can’t help but ask. How on earth could such things happen? How to stop such tragedies from unfolding in the future?

Corona Virus appears to be random yet also selective. People with diabetes are at higher risk than others which makes things much more challenging for them. We are all engaging with mandatory precautions measures. It’s not easy especially when the science doesn’t meet the restrictions. For the less vulnerable it can feel particularly frustrating at times. Considering the plight and having empathy for the immune compromised can really help get perspective and count ones personal blessings. Lets pray for a remedy soon, too many good people have been snatched away from us.

Murder rates in South Africa are off the charts. It is utterly unacceptable. An ongoing rupture in our society highlighted by the plight of white farmers yet barely acknowledged in the townships. The ineptitude of the authorities to help save this policeman’s life astounds me. The family must have so many questions surrounding why he did not receive medical attention sooner. Perhaps they didn’t realise the seriousness of the wound which beggars belief considering how much blood he was losing. Was it because he wasn’t in uniform perhaps? Should that even be a factor? Black lives matter, yet death comes cheap in Africa. Every culture in the world carries a strong moral code book. None more so than the Cupido family, well respected upstanding citizens within our community. Yet there appears to be a steady corrosion of moral fibre in certain segments of South African society. The fallout …. A family left devastated by a system so inept that it can’t even protect the people who are so bravely trying to protect us. It beggars belief ….

As for the road accident, it may sound harsh but that was pretty much inevitable. There are frequently dogs, pigs, goats and cows on that road too. Accidents are not uncommon and one really has to watch out. There is a big town planning issue with an ever burdening population living so close to a busy road. Does it take the death of a grade two pupil to raise awareness regarding the lack of road signs, animal containment measures and child care?! By the way, the speed limit there is 60. One wouldn’t think so coming into St Francis Bay from Cape St Francis though, the speed limit signs have been missing for years. Nonetheless it is 60. It takes looking down at ones speedometer to actually comprehend how ‘slow’ that feels in modern vehicles. I think most of us have been guilty of going through there at far greater speeds. Hopefully this incident will give us all a wake up call …. but as per usual, too little too late. An innocent young light has been extinguished.

Three vibrant souls all from different backgrounds at different stages in their lives have passed away. Many unanswered questions perhaps, but they have left our world nonetheless. There is no coming back. How each family comes to terms with finding peace is a personal journey unique unto themselves. As they take courage to try and make sense of these tragedies, may they remain strong in the faith that these three souls are in a better place. As their loved ones are laid to rest, may their wounds slowly begin to heal. May their scars become more bearable moving forward. To Peri, Hendrico and Luniko may God be with you always ….

 

Is Trump getting a raw deal – HAVE YOUR SAY

Regular contributor to St Francis Today, Steve Praetorious discusses US Elections

When it came to the American elections I was a bit like an ostrich. My head was in the sand for ages. Why should I bother with wasting time on something that was of very little interest to me. Trump is a Bafoon. He’s had his moment in the spotlight. Who’s this Biden dude anyways? Can’t possibly be worse than Trump right? Surely he’ll easily win and America/the world will be a better place? Job done. Hurrah! Time to move on ….. Or not.

After being contacted by a friend he implored me to follow things a little more closely. He believes that these elections are hugely significant and predicted (still does) a Trump victory. What!? So several weeks ago I decided to clear the sand from my eyes and started following various different news channels. As I did so, a few things became abundantly clear.
1. Most news channels are privately owned and have agenda’s
2. News is no longer used just to factually and fairly disseminate information. It is used to influence.
3. The power to influence lies in the hands of a very small elite.
4. Fake news is real.
5. What on earth are we supposed to believe?
The answer was simple enough ….. just put your head back in the sand Stevo!

But that was not to be. My friend kept sending me messages and links. Incessantly so. It was so irritating at first! A constant barrage of pro Trump information from a host of news channels that I’d never even heard of before. Personal voice notes with impassioned pleas to delve deeper into what was going on. We have to look ‘behind the scenes’ he implored! It started reading like some sort political thriller. Fascinating conspiracy theories and a host of phenomenal Trump achievements. Wow! Could this morally questionable, utterly humourless, tactless, tasteless, bullying, secular, non environmentally minded toad really have achieved that much in just 4 short years? I once again washed the sand from my eyes and diligently read every Trumpist link he shared. There was NO way in hell I was ever going like this man. Main stream news had done a very good job in that regard. Nonetheless (having swallowed several small stones) I began to digest all this new information.

Although even the word Trump still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I did have an epiphany or two. My friend had looked FOR news rather been fed it. I owed him one thing. I needed to separate Trump from ‘Trumpism’. I needed to acknowledge the positives. Without doubt, his ‘wrecking ball’ has drawn a line in the sand between good and evil. Where he stands personally may well be dubious but why should that detract from the value of this realisation? His achievements for working class America during a time of extreme global crisis are actually quite remarkable. That he hasn’t started a war and actually diffused the crisis in North Korea is barely mentioned. The list goes on. I can well understand now why his team are desperate another four years. There is an action plan and its BIG!

Holy crap! I need to get my head back in the sand …. nobody like to hear all that ‘trumpet blowing’ … Not even me! But before I do so I’m going to stick my neck out one last time. Trump has not gone quietly. Trust me when I say he has no intention of writing a concession speech anytime soon. He will tough this election out in the Supreme court. He may still even win. If he does, it may not be that bad after all. Rather the devil you know than the devil you don’t right? Here’s to digging deep ….

Article by Steve Praetorious

Don’t agree – Have your say below in the COMMENTS

 

 

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