“A time to plant and a time to uproot”

In South African houses the winters are all about the sunlight. Let in the light – then you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug. Fail to let in light, or face the wrong way and you’ll be freezing your bits and pieces off.

The writer of Ecclesiastes in my last post also says there’s “a time to plant and a time to uproot” and we’ve been dong a bit of that too. Our bedrooms all face north, the sunny side of things, but they were shaded by trees so – gasp – we chopped ’em down.

Now before you all lunge at me with knives, I will just say that a) they were breaking up the neighbours’ fence (planted too close to the boundary) and b) we will plant 3 trees in their place. So stand down, eco-warriors! We planted one today called a Syzygium Paniculatum, in memory of Ronnie the dog. It will sprout cute little fluffy puffs of white in season: perfect. When I was choosing the tree the lady in the garden centre came round from her till and gave me a long hug then walked me round the centre – it turns out we are in a nation of doggie lovers, who have all loved and lost animals themselves so in a way I feel like I’ve cut my teeth as a real South African.

Back to the funeral. We put his identity collar thingy on the tree and each of the Nichols said something they loved about Ron. Evie chose to talk about the way he greeted us every time we came home…. we’d get out of the car and wait, often in the dark….waiting for it……….waiting for it….. then SWISH, through the bushes hurtled Ronnie, greeting us all individually going round and round us one by one: some people fell to the floor helplessly rolling on the grass and others just made ridiculous homecoming noises at him. He had the waggiest of waggy tails, it was hilarious.

IMG_1602 (4)For me, I was grateful for the early weeks when he was teeny. I’d sit and cuddle him while I read my bible by the pool while everyone else was at school/work. I think I was in some sort of mild shock in those early weeks, and he was my little pal through it all.

Fin loved him most when he was asleep – that dog could snooooooze, and he was ‘such a dorable’ as Evie used to say. Isaac read a poem he’d written:

“Whenever you had a bad day, Ronnie was there,
Whenever you looked outside with a twig, Ronnie was there,
Whenever you needed a hug, Ronnie was there,
Whenever you had spare leaves to roll in, Ronnie was there,
Whenever you opened the garage, Ronnie was there,
Whenever the blanket needed lying on, Ronnie was there,
Whenever the floor needed wee’ing on, Ronnie was there,
And when a car came speeding down the road, Ronnie was there.”

(Thanks for making us all cry Isaac)
Ronnie certainly packed a lot into his short life. He loved a good road trip. He’d been to the seaside, grazed for sushi along the beach then thrown up after whatever he ate. He floated on a frisbee boat then jumped off and drank sea water so threw up again.

He loved to wind up Colin and he knew exactly what he was doing – nicking somebody’s flip flop/ sunglasses/ homework/ soft toy then legging it around the garden. “Just catch him and give him a smack” I hear you cry. Well watch this, it wasn’t that easy:

One of the many times he got the better of Colin, Ron trotted off looking SO smug, watching Colin over his shoulder and grinning. He walked straight into a wall. Ha HAAA!! Ronnie loved to be in the thick of the action, so if there was a church meeting, he was there in the middle of it. (Church plants always count dogs don’t they – to keep the numbers high?) It’s hard to discuss Ephesians when a small dog has caught his own tail in his teeth, and is twirling himself round and round until he falls over in the middle of you all – it’s not ideal.
Yes, Ronnie was the perfect dog for our first few months here. In terms of his contribution to society he was less than useless, allowing complete strangers into the house, for example. But for pure comedy value and comfort he was priceless and we’re very grateful for him. He was our first dog and helped me get over my fear of dogs. At the time of death he was covered in dead leaves, tweezles, grey paint on one side and white paint on his backside. He looked like a little hippy. IMG_3070