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Wild and Free

We’re at the beginning of a drought situation in Queensland, Australia … again. It’s worrying to see the plant leaves drooping, the flowers going brown, practically overnight, and to hear the crunch of dry grass, underfoot. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Yet, amongst this, this morning, I came across these outstanding, vibrant, and joyous flowers. They are wild and free. I recall, last year, planting one cactus-like stalk that had fallen off the same plant that is in a particularly chosen pot, positioned in a particular location, and that is cared for and tended to. You guessed it … the plant in that pot isn’t looking half as happy as this profusion that is wild and free—it hardly ever gets watered, talked to, or looked after.

Books and Things

Stunning, vibrant cactus flowers ... growing naturally

Of course, I’m going to make an analogy. How much do we strive to make things perfect and manipulate things in our ‘world’? We plan and put in place parameters so that we can control, well, whatever might come our way, so as to avoid things upsetting the apple cart.

Perhaps, we need to be more like this plant, and ensure that we have more ‘wild and free’ in our life. We place many expectations on ourselves, and on others, and it can get so tiring ensuring things are ‘just so’. Everyone’s view of perfect is so different though that we can never achieve perfection. Isn’t a sight like those wild and free flowers above an incredible image to behold? It’s time to get more creative; take more chances; and make mistakes, so that we can learn and grow.

My Italian parents immigrated to Southern Africa in 1955, and in my book, Ciao! We’re In Africa, I recount how they made an appointment with an immigration lawyer to enquire about a residency application. It didn’t quite work out as expected as, while waiting for approval to remain in South Africa, they visited with friends in Rhodesia, and ended up there instead. They truly pursued a wild and free vision. It was hard work though, and at times, they risked everything, but my mother has often said that she wouldn’t have changed a thing. An extract from that book is below. #Africa #Rhodesia #Italy

The lawyer seems positive about our application, but he also comes across as slightly patronising. In heavily accented English, as his voice has the strong, guttural Afrikaans inflections, he says, “Ja well … there are a lot of Italian immigrants coming to South Africa; the government’s getting tougher with their laws. So, it’s now a requirement for all applicants to be out of the country for at least a month whilst the application is being processed.”

“Oh, well, of course.” Eugenio’s a bit taken aback by this statement. “We’ll do what’s necessary.”

I sense his disappointment and I’m desperate to ask him, “What’s going on?” As we leave the lawyer’s office, I pummel him with questions.

“Basta! Enough!” My husband barks out.

I’m startled by his outburst. He immediately apologises. “Cara, mi dispiace. Darling, I’m sorry. Forgive me, I’m just disappointed. The lawyer said we have to leave South Africa for a month whilst our immigration application is considered.”



We walk along in silence, both of us digesting this unexpected turn of events. Eugenio suggests we sit on a bench under the shade of a large, leafy tree. We had both thought it was going to be easy to stay in South Africa.

Above our heads, I watch as an aeroplane climbs into the bright blue sky. “Where do you think that’s going?” I ask.

“I don’t know, but the thought of going back to Italy is very tempting.”

Suddenly, I’m overcome. It’s been such a stressful meeting, and now my husband is talking about Italy. I feel homesick and scared. My tears come so thick and fast that my husband hands me his handkerchief. “Non piange, cara. Don’t cry darling. You’re going to make me cry, too!”


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