PS: We have one space (or two sharing) available for Jill Trappler’s art weekend retreat – EXPLORING TOUCH, Friday 4 February 2022. Book here
The Centre Will Not Hold (2017), produced by the late Joan Didion’s nephew Griffin Dunne, is an interview documentary that can be watched time and again. Joan Didion’s wisdom always inspires. Writer and art critic Hilton Als says, “The weirdness of America got into her bones and came out on the other side of a typewriter”.
Being the Mom of two daughters at early stages of their working lives keeps me alert to the extraordinary career path tales of others. I am especially interested in the role of chance.
Joan Didion’s mother put the details of a Vogue essay writing contest in front of her then high school daughter, saying “You could win that and live wherever you wanted. But definitely you could win it.” In her Senior year at Berkeley (1956), Joan Didion won the Vogue essay writing contest and moved to New York City to join the editorial staff.
A few years later (1961), a Vogue cover piece on self-respect by another writer never materialised, and Joan Didion was asked to fill the gap. She set about writing “Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power”. A small excerpt of this, her first published piece, is included at the end. Read the full piece online, she was just twenty seven years old.
Our last born, Molly, gave me a copy of SOUTH AND WEST for my birthday, just two days before Joan Didion’s passing on 23 December 2021. It is a notebook recording her month-long road trip through the American South. I love reading Joan Didion. A favourite piece is “It is easy to see the beginning of things and harder to see the ends. I can remember now with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay a finger on the moment it ended… It is distinctly possible to stay too long at the fair.” – Goodbye To All That by Joan Didion
This week brought the passing of Katriena Rosina Wildschutt (1935 – 2022), mother to Rose Kroukamp and Richard Wildschutt. Many of you will remember Rose from Wildekrans Country House, having tasted her carrot cake, rusks, homemade lemonade and marmalade. Each summer, Aunty Kate proudly presented Wildekrans Country House with her homegrown Dahlias (pictured). This Saturday the Overberg community of St Mary’s Church, Houw Hoek, gathered to lay Aunty Kate to rest. Gerald Siljeur’s eulogy spoke to Katriena’s legacy and how, through mostly her actions alone, the historic Houw Hoek Church lives on.
The foresight of our forefathers has left us with their legacy, the Kogelberg Biosphere. What a joy to begin the year with hikers from across the globe. This last week we were treated to the company of Canadians, Hollanders and Gautengers. We are of course potentially all the same, but perhaps it’s our very different contexts that make us different. I learnt that Canadians are kept awake at night by climate change, as well as Biden’s lack of sensitivity to the sustainability of Canada’s automotive industry. I learnt that Hollanders are disturbed by an increasing lack of tolerance for age old Dutch tradition.
Joan Didion’s words on this topic. “I was born in Sacramento and lived in California most of my life… Don’t you think sometimes people are formed by the landscape they grow up in? It formed everything I ever think or do or am.”
PPS: To join another hiking group, Hike South Africa, in the weeks of 31 January, 7 February, 14 or 28 March 2022. Hiking outside Cape Town. Book here
PPPS: These words are from Joan Didion’s Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power. “To live without self-respect is to lie awake some night, beyond the reach of warm milk, phenobarbital, and the sleeping hand on the coverlet, counting up the sins of commission and omission, the trusts betrayed, the promises subtly broken, the gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carelessness. However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously un-comfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.”