13 May, 2011


Dear friends

This is a short mid-year newsletter with some information about forthcoming retreat activity at the farm.

The ten-day easter and freedom day retreat was full. We divided some rooms with screens and even had to borrow some flat black cushions (zabutons) from Emoyeni to seat everyone. The first frost of the season struck in mid-retreat and it was magical to do our sunrise walk with the veld sparkling around us. The new zendo held us all beautifully and the feeling is unmistakeable that a sangha is growing here all by itself.

There are still some places open for the June Zen-Art retreat from 11-19 June 2011. This is basically a traditional Zen retreat with a period of contemplative art activity during the afternoons led by that great artist and old Zen student JP Meyer, who some of you may remember from his days on staff at Dharmagiri. A number of people were hoping to attend the easter retreat but were unable to do so as it was full - here is the chance to make up for it. So please contact us soon if you would like to make it for June. It promises to be a nice combination of stillness and creativity under the early winter sun.

Around Woman's Day in early August I will be leading a short StoepZen retreat at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, after which Sean van Eeden's Kung Fu group will be coming to Poplar Grove for a bracing mid-winter sesshin. Then in September I am doing a short StoepZen weekend at Emoyeni. Marguerite van der Merwe will be leading her annual retreat in the Alexander Technique at Poplar Grove from around 15-21 October 2011 and anyone interested in this can contact us or contact Marguerite at 028-2714555. November is a break from retreats while we handle shearing at the farm.

We have had a number of enquiries about a New Year retreat at Poplar Grove. These are mostly from people who would like to flee the annual Christmas/New Year madness for something a little quieter and sane (ha ha). We don't envisage anything too serious around that time but a mildly structured few days relief from traffic and hangovers with blue skies, meditation, music and good food as well as free time to read, paint, dig, sleep or walk may be what you secretly dream of. We will arrange this if there is enough interest so please let us know if you like the idea - you can contact us by email, as usual, on the address at the top of this message or by contacting Margie at 082 816 5903.

And, besides the formal retreat activity, we are happy that people are making more use of the cottage and koppie kamer for private retreats, writing, painting and resting. These facilities are available for most of the year outside of retreat times.

We don't have a book store at Poplar Grove. But we are still selling copies of Stoep Zen, now in its second print. Marguerite's book 'The Art of Walking' will be out by the time of the Alexander retreat. We also hope to have some copies of the new BRC successor to Quiet Food, called 'What the Buddha Ate'. And also 'Vrede in Tye van Geweld' from Naledi - Hester van der Walt's Afrikaans translation of Pema Chodren's well-known 'Practising Peace in Times of War'

The generosity of friends who come to the farm has helped us to complete the koppie kamer and finish the zendo. These donations are all put into an account from which we will draw for our next project - the installation of solar water heaters and a solar pump. As always, we are deeply grateful for the generosity of those who come here. Together we will build together a home for genuine and unpretentious Dharma practice.

That is all for now. It is still raining at the farm, the roads are washing away and the earth dam is still running over. And the leaves in the grove have turned yellow and gold. All beautiful.

With much affection from a cool and bright Poplar Grove,

Antony and Margie Osler