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Posts Tagged ‘Karoo’

Memory, turn your face to the moonlight.

 

A grey figure is hunched over her wooden kitchen table. The blackened kettle whistles on the Agar stove as she patiently sieves, mixes and blends. She gently wipes the flour off her hands on her starched white apron and blows a grey hair from her face. It is a cold Karoo evening but there is a lot to do before she can light the lamp and crawl into bed. Her body aches at the thought of her cosy bed with the patch work quilt. “Tomorrow I will see the whole family again.”

A Karoo morning....

A Karoo morning….

Another day is dawning….

It is 6am and I stumble out of bed and precariously make my way down the stairs.I want to surprise the extended family with a batch of my ‘famous’ cheese muffins. Auto pilot switches on and out come all the ‘tools of the trade.’ All these electrical appliances had to be replaced when we made the journey across the sea, as nothing was compatible with the Canadian voltage. So I was spoilt with a rather zooty looking stainless steel mixer. It does everything! It is useful but I hate to admit that it is not my favourite. The piece that steals my heart is my old hand driven sieve. You know the one with the handle that turns…

I regular get reprimanded by my family. “Mom, when are you going to throw that old thing out? It is all rusted up!” My retort is always the same……

Are you going to throw me out when I am not useful anymore?

The old sieve finds a new home...

The old sieve finds a new home…

 

Memories, I can smile at the old days.

My sieve was found in an old junk shop. I rescued it from the kitchen scrap yard! I could not help myself……It reminded me of the one that my mom has used all these years. We have delighted in the Christmas cakes, tea loaves and ‘dinosaur pies’ that my mom’s expert hands and this little wonder have churned out from her busy kitchen. So call me sentimental, but I relive those special times with each turn of my ‘rusty old timer.’ 

And the new day will begin…..

The timer blasts forth and I take out my golden offerings from the oven. The mustardy, cheesy aroma makes my stomach grumble. Soon my mob will come thundering in with bleary eyes. They always seem to know when there are freshly baked offerings. I am left wondering about the family that once sat around that wooden table in the middle of the Klein Karoo. At least their old sieve has a caring custodian.

Antiquity versus modernity!

Antiquity versus modernity!

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The familiar images flash past and I take in the different scenes. I recognize many of the places and floods of memories rush in. I allow myself to linger with these thoughts and a tear rolls down my cheek. The rich music soothes me with the smooth rhythms and rich tones. I do miss South Africa and all that goes along with it!

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

Jumping for joy on a Cape beach.

I suppose my sentiments have been jogged as I stare at the book cover ‘Scatterlings- A tapestry of Afri-Expat Tales by Eve Cummings. A few of my blogs will be included in her book and I realize that I now fall under the heading: Expat!

I must add that I am honoured to be tucked in somewhere in between. There are some prominent South Africans whose writings have been included such as Helene Zille, Clem Sunter and Max du Preez.  So I really don’t mind being included along with that lot!

But I suppose we also have our story to tell. It is the one of how you ‘start again’ in a new country. I have always been grateful that we did not feel pushed to leave South Africa. We were fortunate that we did not have deeper reasons for leaving; it was merely a work opportunity that could not be refused. That being said, it still does not make the whole process any easier. There have been days when I have been so apprehensive. The older brain just struggles to adapt to ‘the newness of all things.’ Fortunately we come from good ‘pioneering stock’ and we face the challenges head on and try not to play ‘the when we’ game. Not too often, that is!

One of my favourite views...the Lonehill Koppie.

One of my favourite views…the Lonehill Koppie.

But today I am just going to allow myself to miss the country and the people we left behind. I glance at the photos again….. It is truly beautiful! I think of the wine lands and scenic Cape Town where I grew up as a child. Then there were all the places that I spent my adult years……… The Karoo got me to ‘put on my big girl panties’ when I first arrived there as a young bride. I could not cook a thing and ‘pannekoekbak’ was a prerequisite of a young country housewife. So the learning curve was initiated! Initially I had perceived the Karoo to be barren but soon grew to love the stillness and the generosity of spirit of the local farmers. Mpumalanga was the complete opposite as it was lush and green and had the added benefit of the proximity to the surrounding game parks. We spent many happy hours in the bush there. The next stop was Johannesburg. I feared I would never settle in this metropolis, but I did. At first I felt like a little Barbarton daisy trying to survive in the middle of Adderley Street. It soon enveloped me with its charm and the warmth of its people.

The Karoo mountains

The Karoo mountains

Then there were the holiday destinations like Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How can I possibly sum up the tranquility and beauty in a few words? Camping in the bush, fishing trips, tracking the African Big Five or just lying on a remote beach in the sun…..these memories are all safely filed away.

 

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

A view from a special farm near Sabi.

 

 

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I am a ‘lady of leisure’ propped up against my plumped up cushions and with a cup of English Breakfast tea at my side. What can I say? I am a lazy little cow! Well, this is how I feel. I am forced to ‘take it easy’ as I recently had a bit of surgery all in the quest to maintain health and to keep mobile. The anesthetic has hit me for a six and I have spent most of the weekend trying to unscramble my dreams. They range from weekends spent on the farm in the Karoo and Lowveld to shopping trips to the Fourways Mall. One’s brain is such an interesting piece of machinery and it is fascinating what thoughts are unearthed when it is forced into submission for a while. All these amazing memories are stacked away just waiting to be drawn upon and savoured once more.The Lonehill Koppie

So I have the luxury today of just recalling some of those special moments spent in Africa. The pictures are vivid in my memory…… green wine lands and those majestic Stellenbosch Mountains, the grey ‘ganna bossies’ of the Karoo in the evening light and the lush forests of Toehill Farm. The memories of my dear Lonehill Koppie are crisp. I recall my last climb of its colossal boulders and the breath taking view from the top as if it were yesterday. The wonderful thing is, that as time goes by, I can relive these moments without feeling too sad.

A rare moment with lion cubs.

I get these gentle reminders of how the Universe is connected, no matter where we live on this planet. That fact alone is comforting when one is so far away. On Saturday a local robin discovered the bird bath that we had placed in the back garden under the trees.  It was one of the things that arrived in one piece after it had made its journey across the sea in the container. Many of the earthenware pots had not taken the wave motion quite as well! Our robin splashed about and washed off all his winter grit. His red breast glistened against the backdrop of the spring blossoms. I was reminded of his cousin back in Africa, the Olive Thrush; he had followed the same rituals during those long hot summers.

We had a taste of a warm summer evening last night and walked down to the lake. The evenings are light till late into the night so we get to enjoy them. The men in my house practiced their long forgotten cricket throws, as they skimmed smooth pebbles across the water. I perched on a nearby bench and watched a front approach across the lake. The ducks and swans were feeding and some got in the last bit of their socializing before the light failed. Small groups of summer bugs were out discovering the delights of the yellow dandelions and the blue forget- me- nots.  
It was time to go and get back on the bed with my feet up. I am going to indulge myself with more memories, as soon I will be up and hopefully  ‘dancing on the ceiling’ once more.

On Toehill Farm

 

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