Diana van den Berg (4 November 1945 / Durban, South Africa)
Biography of Diana van den Berg
Unlike Princess Diana, I am old (a wonderful word!) , ugly (well, certainly in comparison with Princess Diana - and who cares? - not me! - in actual fact, I don't really think I am ugly, but find that difficult to say) , alive (all the time) and happy (most of the time) .
I am an animal lover (all animals - wild and domestic - including snakes, spiders, frogs, scorpions, etc - every creature that walked, hopped, crawled, swam, flew, slithered, anything-elsed the planet) and very interested in ecology of all kinds. My garden is an indigenous forest (a small one) . My children, when they were small used to give me indigenous trees for birthday and Christmas presents. I had the most wonderful horse (Flicka) in the world for 20½ years, but he went to Heaven on 28 April 2002 at the age of 37½. He was the healthiest, happiest horse I ever knew. I miss him terribly. I have two darling animals at home - a tabby cat called Tigger (14 on 15 March 2009) and a blind Maltese poodle called Daisy (14 on 24 May 2009) . Dogs don't bite me. Either I taste bad or they know I love them all - even before sight.
I have 2 children whom I love with all my heart. My daughter is divorced and has two children and lives in Australia. She doesn't talk to me, beyond about 6 sentences a year - and that, and all its implications, breaks my heart. My son is married and has two step-children and lives a couple of kilometres away from me. He loves me.
I divorced my husband in 1974 and he died at Christmas time in 2007.
I adore my country South Africa (and my continent Africa) and am very optimistic about South Africa's future. I have been the secretary for our local sector policing forum for the last 3 years, not just to support my son who has been the chairman for the same period. We are both, along with others, very active in operations designed to bring peace to our community and have reduced crime in our area to a very marked extent.
I believe that World Peace is possible. It is my opinion that the solution is simple theoretically, but complex practically.
I never go anywhere without my sense of humour - or almost never. It carries me through a lot!
I love being 68. I find it great fun. People tell me I am young at heart, but that is not true. I am old. It is a simple fact. There is nothing wrong with the O word (except when referring to my animals - then the word is 'mature') . To me the O word implies, amongst many other things that I can't think of all at once, 'maturity, wisdom, learning, having life experience, having developed sensitivities that bring appreciation of the smallest and largest things and the wonder of all living creatures'. I have the most incredible health that defies explanation, the bone structure of a 20-year old (with X-rays to prove it!) , more energy than most people I know all put together - I have no idea where it comes from (I often forget to eat, and when I don't forget, I often don't eat much anyway or the right things) , but the energy is there. I don't see why I should walk if I can run.
I write poetry - have done just about all my life with some gaps. I don't want my poetry published. Weird? Perhaps, but it is my choice. My daughter-in-law has threatened to have it published after I am dead, but I threatened to haunt her if she does. I don't mind reading it - or showing it - to anyone of my choice whether that be an individual, or a hall full of people, or posting it on an open forum - but that is different - I haven't really thought how and why, but it is.
I taught in high schools and primary schools for many years, mainly French in high schools, but also English and Afrikaans - and in primary schools, all subjects. At various times, I used to run a Poetry Club and a Nature Club at the school I taught at, at the time.
Currently, I have a 12-month contract which ends in October 2009, based on my Microsoft Access skills.
I am a realistic optimist - or an optimistic realist and try to make differences, even if they are very small. I sing (metaphorically - if I really sang, all frogs would leave South Africa and I don't want that) - as I was saying, I sing my joys, cry my sorrows and am temporarily paralysed by my fears (and then I take control again) and I put a lot of all of that into my poetry.
I am me. I like me. Not everybody else does. I am not really a people's person, although I try my best to be. I am easily disappointed in people. I try to be tolerant of people with different values to mine, and succeed up to a point, but I don't find it easy. I am very faithful and supportive to my friends. I usually find that the people I get on best with are animal lovers (even when I don't know that to begin with) .
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Like the slow-note embrace of evensong,
heavy-scented on the darkening air;
like the sky diffused with sun-paintings,
blessing my muddied fingers
and my horse’s
like the sunrise strokes
on trunk edges
in honour of the dawn chorus;