Kalahari cocao

Sometimes a day’s fishing in Rakops delivers more than a few bream. Three weeks ago the pitiful bay of a newly born lamb overpowered all sense of reason and Jacobus and Nishka took the step all animal lovers know leads to heart ache. The motherless lamb of ignoble breed found herself on Niska’s lap in the Pajero on the way to Maun to procure bottles and milk. Back on the farm she made instant friends with Bismark and Rebecca, the two German Shepherds, and is now another member of the family. She takes walks with the rest of the menagerie of pets and sleeps in a box next to Nishka. Her arrival brought many memories of our time as sheep farmers on the Hennopsriver. Read more below …SKAAPSTORIESCocao van die Kalahari

 

SKAAPSTORIES

SO gebeur dit een skemer Vrydag in September. Terwyl ek in die kombuis aandete prakseer na ‘n lang dag met baie keertye om te haal, hoor ek die gerammel van ‘n trok traag teen die bult agter die huis uitbeur.  Krummels en Lady nael by my verby en bars deur die agterdeur met Jacobus nuuskierig agterna.

“Vrou!” hoor ek Gerard. “Kom kyk!”

Die kinders en ek kom omtrent dieselfde tyd die trok tegemoet. Gerard staan by die bak wat oopmaak met ‘n afrit, met ‘n twintigstuk van die mees bedremmelde skape wat ek nog gesien het stug teen die bak saamgebondel.

“Bêêê,” groet een huiwerig. Sy toon geen ooreenkoms met die oulike, wollerige, wit lammertjies in Cullinan nie. Ten eerste is sy ‘n skaap, geen lam nie. Ten tweede is haar kop swart en haar gesigsuitdrukking soos díe van Juffrou Wolmarans in standard drie toe sy ‘n dooie padda in haar laai ontdek het. En ten derde is sy brandmaer en effe motgevreet. So is ook die ander stomme diere op die trok.

Gerard staan trots terug.

“Dis my skapies!”

“Mag ek vra wat hul herkoms is?” Ver is dit van my om my as kenner van skaapstambome voor te doen, maar selfs vir my baie ongeoefende oog lyk die groepie na die arme haweloses vir wie ons Kersfees kos neem.

“Ek het hulle by die skut gekoop. Hulle is almal dragtig.” Gerard se ingenomendheid ken geen perke nie. “Oor so twee maande loop hier lammers net waar jy kyk.”

“Lammers met swart koppe?” vra Katinka versigtig. Ek is nogal verlig dat sy gevra het want sy het darem op skool van Ayreshire- en Herefordbeeste geleer in een van die vakkse wat kinders moet neem en wat elke jaar ‘n nuwe naam het. Dus is sy die naaste wat ons familie het aan ‘n landboukundige.

“Katinka. Dis Dorper-skape/” Sy meerderwaardige kennis laat ons stom naderstaan. En toe bars die groep by ons verby en storm soos die Bybelse wilde donkies by ons verby op pad na .. nee, niemand kon ooit weet waarheen daardie Dorpers op pad was nie. Hulle het in hul (betreklike kort) lewens op Lalapanzi net gehol en gestamp en gebê sonder taal of taktiek. Oor die klipbanke, deur die toe hek van die nuutgeboude klipkraal beur hulle en pyl af op die spesiale vitamienverrykte skaapkrummels (krummels vir skape om te eet, nie krummels wat van skape gemaak is nie) en begin vreet.

So gaan ons daardie aand slaap met die klank van skape wat blêr in die nag.

Na twee weke van vrede in die veld, en aangehelp deur die vitamienverrykte krummels, begin die jonger ooie hul energie herwin en die eerste tekens van hul dragtige staat toon. Ons kom saans tuis en dis nog betreklik lig, sodat ons en die kinders op die grasperk ‘n bal rondskop of ringtennis speel. Die geel en pienk antieke rosies wat teen ons huis se klipmuur rank, is in volle blom en die perskebome in die boord bruide in die skemer soos bloeisels hulle oordek. Naweke kom maats kuier. Ure lank ry die kinders op en af met die rivier op opblaasmatrasse. Teen die vaalblou lentelug bot die wilgerbome ‘n Ierse groen. Ons eet buite onder die reuse-witstinkhout en maak met steenkool vuur in die buitekombuis se stoof.

Die idille is inderdaaad naby genoeg om daarin te begin glo.

So drie weke ná die Dorpers se aankoms storm Gerard kort voor aandete die kombuis binne.

“Daai ou ooi het plastiek gevreet en sy verstik. Ek moet haar limonade gee.” Nou, Gerard is ‘n apteker en hy weet baie van die regte medisynes, maar limonade het hy nog nooit in sy arsenaal in die medisynekassie aangehou nie. Dis ook nie die sort koeldrank wat ek, as gesondheidsbewuste neurotiese ma, in my huis het nie. Maar my man is beslis oor sy diagnose en sy behandeling en nou is die soektog na ‘n afsetpunt vir limonade half-sewe op ‘n Donderdagaand in die Hennopsriviervallei waar die naaste winkeltjie die snoepie van die piekniekplek is, drie kilometre verder op die hoofpad.

In die lendelam bakkie spring hy en Jacobus op Missie Limonade met doelwit Red die Dorper. Sonsondergang kom en gaan en in die vroeë skemer is daar nog geen teken van die reddingsending se suksesvolle terugkeer nie. Katinka en ek eet maar en hou die manne se kos gereed vir later. Eers met die eerste aankondiging van  die Nuus om Agtuur deur Riaan Cruywagen trek die bakkie die erf binne. In hul hande hou die twee elkeen vier klein botteltjies limonade, al agt reeds oopgemaak.

Hul vertelling oor die verloop van die sending moet eers wag. Met die hulp van die borrels in die limonade gaan die ooi ‘n windjie of twee opbring en, so verseker Gerard my, daarrmee saam die ellendige plastieksak. Waarom dit nou juis limonade en geen ander gaskoeldrank moet wees wat die wonder moet bewerk nie, is onduidelik. Hoe hy weet dis ‘n plastieksak wat die obstruksie veroorsaak het, vra ek nie. Wat hy beplan om te doen as die wonder-koeldrank nie die gewenste en beloofde uitwerking het nie, wil ek nie weet nie.

Dis twee stowwerige en moeë manne wat uiteindelik die bord kos voor hulle verslind, terwyl hulle om die beurt die verhaal van die Limonadesending vertel:

Natuurlik was die buurtwinkeltjie lank reeds gesluit toe hulle daar om hulp wou aanklop. Die enigste uitweg was om die grootpad te vat na Randburg. By geeneen van die vulstasies vind hulle ‘n winkeltjie wat kan help nie. Die uiteindelike redding kom in die vorm van die kroeg van die Indaba Hotel buite Four Ways.

Wat was die kroegvlieë se verbasing groot toe ‘n man met ‘n stofbesmeerde aptekersbaadjie, vergesel deur ‘n vuil, kaalvoet-seuntjie, die kroeg inbars en sonder soveel soos ‘n “Goeienaand” of “Aangenaam”  weg te val met “Limonade asseblief, soveel jy het, meneer.”

Die man haal ‘n paar botteljies uit en daarmee saam twee glase.

“Nee-nee, “ keer Gerard vervaard. “Ek wil die koeldrank met my saamneem.”

“Jammer, kan nie gebeur nie. Teen die wet. Julle moet dit hier drink.”  Die kroegman laat hom nie rondbeveel nie.

“Die koeldrank is nie vir my nie. Dis vir my skaap.”

Die kroegman en sy kliënte kyk mekaar meewarig aan. Hulle het al baie stories gehoor. Maar hierdie is beslis ‘n uitklopper tot sover.

“Jou skaap?”

“Ja, my skaap. Kan jy my help, asseblief?”

“Waar is jou skaap? In jou bakkie?”

Nou proes die ander kroeggangers in hul bier. Die gedagte aan ‘n skaap op die voorste sitplek van ‘n bakkie wat deur ‘n kroegman met limonade bedien word, is net té vermaaklik.

“Nee oom.” Op die punt is Jacobus baie beslis. Die oom is bietjie stadig en die tyd vir die skapie hardloop uit. “My ooi is siek. My Pa sê sy het ‘n pastieksak geëet. Sy moet limonade drink sodat die sak kan uitkom, oom.”

“Tag, dis vir jou ‘n ander gemors,” sê die kroegman. “Ek sal julle dan help. Maar die botteltjies moet ek oopmaak, net in geval die inspekteur julle dalk buite raakloop. Ek wil nie my lisensie verloor nie.”

So gebeur dit dat ons ooi, ná haar ontsnapping aan die treurige einde wat onafwendbaar is vir diere in ‘n skut, deur haar nuwe eienaar bedien is met limonade uit die kroeg van ‘n hoogop Sandton-hotel, asof sy op vakansie is by ‘n oord aan die Hennopsrivier.

Mag die liefde en sorg wat sy daardie aand gekry het, vergoed het vir die swaarkry van haar vorige lewe wat duidelik sy merk op haar moeë ou lyf gelaat het. Of dit ooit ‘n plastieksak was en of die boereraat dat limonade daarvoor help sommer onsin was, weet ons nie. Maar die stomme ooi het nie herstel nie. Die volgende oggend is almal met rooi oë skool en werk toe en moes Albert êrens tussen die klipbanke ‘n plekkie vind om die ooi te begrawe.

Vertel ek later daardie die treurige uiteinde van ons eerste klompie skape aan Moos van Rensburg, advertensiebestuurder by destydse Nasionale Pers, en ook ‘n passievolle naweekboer, skud hy net sy kop.

“Daar is vir ‘n skaap net twee toestande,” sê hy. “’n Gesonde skaap en ‘n dooie skaap.”

Dat hy dit volkome reg gehad het, sou ons mettertyd self ondervind. Dit sou baie rande se uitsoekkkos, goed-nagevorsde medisynes, ywerige studie en vele ure se arbeid kos voor ons besef het die navorsingstasie van ‘n bekende vervaardiger van veeartsenykundige middels was nie om toevallige redes net een kilometer vanaf ons plaas nie. Nee, die navorsing word juis daar gedoen omdat elke denkbare pes en plaag in daardie omgewing te vind was. As ‘n boer graag proefnemings wou doen met watter diere teen absoluut elke siekte ter wêreld bestand is, dan sou Lalapanzi voor in die ry as geskikte proefplaas kon staan.

Maar daar nou nog baie rooi oë aan etenstafel wees voor ons daardie les goed verstaan het. Intussen was daar nog ‘n paar ander ervarings wat die vier stadskinders aan die werklikheid van ‘n lewe op ‘n plaas moes bekendstel. Ons leerskool het maar pas begin,

 

 

Die verhaal van die vis wat weggeloop het

Kameelperd drinkDIE VERHAAL VAN DIE VIS WAT WEGGELOOP HET

DIE VERHAAL VAN DIE VIS WAT WEGGELOOP HET

“Lodge, lodge, kom in!” kraak die radio. Dis Gerard. Hy en die manne is vroegoggend drade toe. Om die pale wat die week deur rondloper-olifante gebreek is, reg te maak.

“Ons het ‘n effense problem hier,” verduidelik my man. “Kom met ‘n kar en …” Hy gee ‘n lang lys van implemente en gereedskap wat ek moet saambring, sonder enige verduideliking van wat die “probleem” kan wees. Mans glo mos daarin om net die heel nodigste inligting te gee, asof hul vrouens nie met te veel besonderhede vermoei moet word nie.

Van ver kon ek die bakkie in die sandpad sien staan. Toe ek die Cruiser tot stilstand bring, kom hy koponderstebo nader.

“ Twee kameelperdbulle het teen die draad baklei, die een wou oor die draad spring, sy agtervoet het verstrengel geraak, en hy lê nou dood in die pad.” Links van die bakkie kon ek die patetiese agterbeen van die eens trotse bul nog in die wildsdraad verstrengel, sien.

Wildsdrade is tegelyk ‘n wildsplaas se grootste beskerming maar ook sy grootste belemmering. Wild is die eienaar se belangrikste bate en moet dus met wildheinings op die plaas gehou word. Maar wildheinings verhinder vrye verkeer van wild in droë tye, en ook wanneer veldbrande verwoestend deur die droë Kalahari tier. Leeus en olifante laat hulle nie deur heinings keer nie en hulle beweeg sonder moeite oor duisende hektare grond. Maar die ander wild, soos die boksoorte, sebras en kameelperde, is die slagoffers van die onnatuurlike vorm van gevangeniskap.

Ek los die manne en Gerard met hul toerusting om die probleem te hanteer. Later die middag keer hulle terug. Die Boesmana glimlag van oor tot oor. Daar is skaars plek vir ‘n man om behoorlik in die bakkie te staan. Die hele ruimte word deur hompe kameelperdvleis opgeneem. By die gedagte aan hoe die aand gesmul gaan word, babbel die manne uitgelate. Kameelperdvleis is “baie lekker” verseker hulle my. Ek en Gerard skud net kop. Die vleis ruik pure salpeter.

Maar vir Boesmans is kos, en vleis meer as enige ander kossoort, hul grootste vreugde. Oor elke stukkie oorskiet is hulle bly. Mors met kos bestaan nie in hul ervaringswêreld nie. Die ingewande van diere wat gejag is, word met ewe veel genot rondom ‘n rokerige vuurtjie verorber as wat Nigella haar lippe in haar sjiek ontwerperskombuis oor gourmet-kos aflek.

Geurmiddels is daar nie. Die vleis word óf in water gekook, óf in diepolie gebraai, óf houtskool verbrand op ‘n vuurtjie sonder ‘n braairooster. Sonder sout.

Die vleisrantsoene vir al die staf word twee keer per week uitgedeel. Behoed die vraat wat meer as sy deel probeer beding. Elke pakkie word noukeurig geweeg sodat almal eweveel kookvleis het. Hoe taaier, hoe beter. Geen lawwigheid soos ‘n wortel of ses, of rape in ‘n aartappelnes, kom lol met die kragtige boodskap van rooivleis sonder tooisel nie.

Daarom dus die groot ontsteltenis vanoggend toe ons meer leeuspore rondom die vleiskamer vind as motors in Johannesburgse spitsverkeer. Heelnag het die maaifoedies gebrul en ge-oemff, natuurlik omdat hulle so ‘n moeitevrye maal van ‘n goedbeleë koedoe in die vleiskamer kry hang het. Die deur was wel gesluit, maar die saamgepersde houtpanele waarmee die meeste van ons geboue opgerig is, het hulle nie lank opgehou nie voor hulle hul boosaardige slagtande in die sappige koedoeboude kon inslaan. Gister was slagdag en vandag sou die vleis vir die lodge en die staf bewerk word.

‘n Mens kan maar net hoop en vertrou dat die leeus op die plaas nie kalenders het nie, want dan gaan hulle baie gou agterkom wanneer dit “Woensdag” op die plaas is. Met al die vreemde dinge wat in die wêreld gebeur, is dit gladnie onwaarskynlik nie dat ook hier in die afgeleë wildernis geheime komplotte gesmee word , erg genoeg om Gwede Mantashe en Robert Mugabe na Prozac te laat gryp.

En as ‘n mens nie wil glo dat die wêreld hier vreemder is as fiksie nie, lees net van die dag tot die vis weggeloop het:

Die Botetirivier by Rakops het nog volop water gehad toe Braam en die kinders in Maart vanjaar ‘n dag vir hengel ingeruim het. Aangenaam songebrand, stil tevrede soos hengelaars is ongeag die visvangs van die dag, het die piekniekgangers deel van hul dag se buit met die Boemans kom deel. Vyf lekker groot skerptand barbers het tot die manne se groot dankbaarheid vir hulle uitgespaar gebly en sommer gou was ‘n vuurtjie aan die gang om die snorbaarde-van-die-modderwaters te kook. Geen dollige degie, of pikante sousie om die lelike knapies te verdoesel nie. Net gewoonweg in water gekook.

Selfs Boesmans het ‘n perk aan hoeveel hulle in een sitting kan wegsit en ná vier van die bielies was hul boeppensies aangenaam rond. Die laaste arme barbel is, steeds lewendig, langs die vuurtjie neergelê met die belofte van ‘n vroeë brekfis in almal se gedagtes toe hulle, stil tevrede, indommel.

Zammi was eerste op daardie oggend. Voorop in sy gedagtes was waterkook vir die gereggie waaroor hy heelnag gedroom het. Water op die vuur, begin hy rondkyk vir die kalant. Maar vergeefs.

Nou, ‘n gewone Westerling sal aanvanklik dink hy het hom dalk met die getal vissies vergis, of sy oë verkul hom, of ‘n geslepe jakkalsie het Snorbaard eerste bygekom. Maar ‘n Boesman is heeltemal anders gerat. Sy eerste instink is om te soek vir spore: spore van ‘n wildekat met ‘n vislus, of spore van een van die ander Boesmans wat in die nag sy geluk met die vissie kom beproef het. Spore wat die verhaal van die wandelende barber kan vertel.

Wat Zammie en sy, nou wakker, maters ook vind. Die slingersleepspore van die rivierbewoner l^e duidelik in die los sand. Stories oor barbels wat honderde meters ver na water kan stap, is volop. Ook ander mites, dalk waar, dat die visse jare diep in droë rivoerbeddings hiberneer tot die water die harde sand in klei verander en die visse in hul duisende in die rivier bollemakiese slaan soos vuil sokkies in ‘n wasmasjien.

Die alleenloper barbel van daardie oggend was vasberade om nie dieselfde lot as dié van sy makkers te beurt te val nie. Met mag en mening het hy, hoe kan ‘n mens nie regtig verstaan nie, met rasse skrede (by wyse van spreke) hom weg van die belustige Boesmans, die vretende vuur en die kokende pot gehaas.

Bykans ‘n halwe kilometer verder het die manne die haastige Snorre aangekeer. Teen hul planne had hy, eens in hul velsak, geen verweer nie. Kon hy sy spore in die sand uitwis, het hy nog ‘n kans op oorlewing gehad. Maar deur so driftig “spore” te maak, het hy sy eie lot verseël.

Net weer ‘n bevestiging van die wysheid dat dit niemand en niks baat nie om van probleme te probeer ontsnap nie.

 

 

Of mice and men

Leeu rol

OF MICE AND MEN

The day that started with an icy wind, chilling the brave guests tracking lion at daybreak, had warmed up considerably by brunch time and my feet were becoming uncomfortably hot in the Spanish boots I retread every winter.

“I am boiling,” I complained to Gerard where we were raking the winter leaves clogging our pathways.

“Take off those boots, you’ll cool down quickly,” he advised before attacking another heap of leaves and hauling them into the wheel barrow.

“I can’t. The boots have to cover …this …” and I opened the leather straps to display what looked like three freshly hatched eggs peeking through the black leggings chosen to keep me warm. “The mice got to them. Both legs are ruined.”

It is now full blown winter and along with the very welcome cooler weather comes the most unwelcome winter guests: fields of mice. Mice in the rooms, mice in the upholstery, mice in the tea canister, mice in the cookie jar, mice in the car radiator, mice in the wires of the Wifi. More mice than all the owls, puffy snakes, and four resident cats can ever hope to contain.

Although food is still plentiful, the pesky rodents have become addicted to civilisation and all its interesting gourmet offerings: lovely pink plastic containers with even tastier contents such as expensive muesli; beautiful mahogany drawers hiding even more attractive cashmere woollens; soft leather wallets keeping treasured dollar tips for the rainy days ahead. Nothing is sacred, nothing is safe. And no remedy known to man solves the mice problem.

After twenty years of traps showing great ingenuity, and, dare I mention it, poison, both “humane” and “animal friendly” (try to explain that one), we have become resigned to wearing holey garments and to checking all food containers morning, noon and night.

Guests handle the visitors in various ways. From running hysterically out of the bathroom yelling for help after a little Woodlands Dormouse joined him in the shower, to demands to “keep the pests at bay.” One guest apologised profusely after flushing the mouse down the toilet “because we thought he would like to join his friends.” She was under the impression that mice live in sewers.

The cooler weather has affected not only the timid small game with a new zest for life, but has also stirred every mischievous bone in the larger game. The larger rodents such as the porcupines, and nocturnal animals like the honey badgers and aardwolf are once again notably visible on night drives. Predators such as the African wild cat pick up fights with our domestic pets, and little Jasmine crept home one morning missing huge chunks of fur and feeling exceedingly sorry for herself. She lay about with both her nose and her back out of joint and only revived after many cuddles and sips of milk.

The big cats – the four teenage lion brats – are presenting us with our biggest head ache. Nothing is sacred. Gerard and the men are confronted every morning with broken solar lights on the pathways. We were woken by huge roars one night last week and upon further exploration witnessed four shady figures slinking through the winter grass with what looked like giant glow worms, our newly installed solar night lights outside our house travelling far, far and away …..

Along with the lower temperatures the dry season has also arrived. The Kalahari grass now resembles the hairstyles of two possible heads of state, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. Throughout the day there is a parade of kudu, blouwildebeest, oryx and hartebeest at the water hole and the giraffe visit regularly. The dry conditions affect us as well, most notably our skins. The Tswana ladies apply their Youth Dew diligently and pots of so-called cell renewing potions line our bathroom shelves. We buy and apply and hope. Because we are worth it. Or not?

Midday flocks of quelea swoop in waves around the bird bath in front of our house, emptying them every hour. The heat of the winter afternoon combined with their thirst seem to affect the tiny birds’ navigation systems. Mislead by the luring reflection of the open grassland in the windows of our house, many crash in confusion and break their necks. I pick up their broken little bodies and carry them, limp in my hand, to a bird “graveyard” under the terminalia tree where they will slowly decompose and become part of the grass and sand of the landscape.

Confusion is not limited to the birds and their unchartered flights. While the mice are causing a shut down of all electrical systems and lions are destroying infrastructure men in the world are doing what man does best: cause chaos. From Europe we hear of Brexit, markets plunging, social media groaning under the renewed campaigns to “purify” Britain from foreigners. In The United States dancing clubbers are mowed down for no apparent reason. In South Africa protestors set fire to clinics and libraries and destroy the very essence of what civilized existence is all about. In a chillingly familiar move reminiscent of the darkest years of apartheid the SABC announces regulations limiting journalistic freedom and integrity. Drought, a falling rand, lack of corporate governance, court decisions against a corrupt president who is supported by spineless cronies, crowd the news and depress even the most stalwart believers in a new tomorrow. The destruction brought about by fields of mice is nothing compared to the onslaught mighty men are leading away from the way we were, into a future for which we seem to be ill prepared.

And yet, on the straggly orchid plant I bought at the Maun Woolies two years ago I find an unexpected, unseasonal first sign of pure beauty to come. After battling against unbearably hot and dry summers, brackish water and mice the exotic plant is now budding with the promise of five blooms by spring. In the pots at my kitchen door tomato plants, reared from the pips of discarded fruits of love, are producing lush red specimens to delight any Mediterranean palate. On the veranda an unseasonal crop of basil fills the cool night air with the promise of another spring.

After the mice and men have taken their toll, spring will be back to tantalize, inspire and thrill us. The world will be a different place, we know. How different not even the most learned economists and politicians can now predict. But even in winter some crops manage to grow, flowers continue to germinate and hope is inexplicably once again renewed. Because we are worth it.

Bacon, pepper and raisin risotto

Winter by waterpan voor die lodgeBACON PEPPER AND RAISIN RISOTTO

Traditionally in winter months venison dishes become the heroes of our menus. Rich venison casseroles, redolent with the aromas of rosemary and red wine, dark and velvety smooth with the secrets of dark chocolate, are alternated with fillet, buttery soft, and served with potatoes or, as in this case, a rice dish. This is a hearty and bold risotto, that complements the venison well, but beef would be a good substitute is you are not so fortunate to have access to game.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 dessert spoons sage, dried or freshly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic crushed
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 cup bacon, finely chopped
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup green pepper chopped
  • 20g parmesan grated
  • 2 eggs hard boiled (if serving as a complete meal. Discard if enjoyed with fillet)
  • Bacon shards

In a heavy bottomed pot sauté the onion, bacon, sage and raisins for 5 minutes. Add the rice. Stir 1 minute on a low heat until the rice is coated with butter. Deglaze the pot with the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the rice one ladle at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle full. Keep stirring slowly. Once all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is done but still al dente. Round off the dish by stirring in the cream.

Serve immediately decorated with the parmesan and bacon shards.

To make bacon shards: mix streaky bacon strips with a little olive oil in a dish and then place strips next to one another in an oven pan. Grill in the oven until brown and crispy.

Why the moon is a rabbit

uitspansel in die nagWHY THE MOON IS A RABBIT

WHY THE MOON IS A RABBIT

The guests were relaxing around a friendly fire after dinner, the spaces between them comfortable with the sense of well-being that follows a day in the gentle winter sun tracking game. The soft light of a full moon dimmed the bright stars of the milky way, casting gentle shadows over the pale landscape.

Mellow with food and drink, the guests were loath to ponder on profound matters or to become embroiled in exhausting discussions about politics, economics or religion. Lazily one guests turned to Jacobus and asked:

“The moon, what do the Bushmen believe about the moon?”

Here then is the story the Bushmen tell to their children on those silent nights around their own humble fires when story telling is their only entertainment:

Once upon a time the people who lived on earth decided to ask God a favour. Man should no longer die and disappear from the earth forever, leaving no tracks in the sand to follow. A mission must be sent to God to ask Him to change the order of things. In future man should be allowed another life.

The commission for this important request was awarded to Chameleon. On his knobbly shoulders fell the responsibility to journey the long way to God and to put the life changing request to Him. Chameleon set out with determination to succeed.

After one year had passed and neither news nor sight of Chameleon reached the anxious people Rabbit became impatient. All this was taking far too long. Rabbit was built for speed, not for patience.

But even though Rabbit had very big ears, he was not a good listener. The message he was tasked to relay, became confused in his mind as he sped his way to God.

Chameleon was still on his journey to God when Rabbit returned with jaunty hops to where the people were anxiously waiting for news. From far away Rabbit waived his ears and his tail to attract the people’s attention. When finally he stopped in front of the congregation of men, they plied him with their questions:

“Did you find God?”

“What did God say?”

“Was God willing to listen?”

“Will man live forever?”

“Do not fret yourselves,” Rabbit answered loftily. “I sorted out everything. From now on God will let man die and he will disappear from earth never to return. His tracks will disappear in the sand forever.”

Upon hearing how Rabbit’s hastiness led to confusion and had ended all man’s hope of life everlasting, the people were furious and rose against Rabbit as one.

“Rabbit must die!” they raved. “He destroyed our chances to be resurrected into another life!”

But one wise man thought a little further.

“What if God in time changes his mind and grants Chameleon our wish? What if man is then allowed another life in spite of Rabbit’s bungling? Then Rabbit will return again to haunt us after we have stolen his life. No, we must make sure he is never again able to return to our land.”

And this wise man grabbed Rabbit by his tail, for rabbits still had very long tails in those days. The man swung Rabbit round and round and round above his head, faster and faster, until SNAP! Rabbit’s tail broke off. Like an arrow from a bow Rabbit sped into the night air, climbing higher and higher and still higher until the men on earth could no longer see him.

Later that night the moon rose. The people were once again sitting around their fires, huddled together in the warmth of their karos-blankets. Suddenly the wise man cast his eyes away from the dancing flames to where the silver glow of the moon beamed down on the Kalahari veldt.

“Look! Look all of you,” he called out. “Rabbit is on the moon!”

And indeed, silhouetted against the soft light of the moon landscape was Rabbit. Men could identify his ears, his shortened tail, his lightning feet.

Every full moon men would be reminded of how Rabbit determined man’s destiny because he chose to be impulsive and not wise. That is how it came to be that the moon is a rabbit.

 

 

 

 

Rooibos-kardamom-melktert

Wat het jou gelok, die geurige belofte van melktert en karadmom of die foto van die banting boerie?

ROOIBOS-EN-KARDAMOM MELKTERT

TEETYD rondom halfvier geskied op die warmste tyd van die dag. Die kwik styg ná twaalf uur, wanneer die meeste mense op die plaas  êrens binne teen die son skuil, en klim nog tot vyf uur wanneer die wild, vermoei deur die hitte, by die watergate begin vergader om hul dors te les. Teen teetyd is die groot eet van brunch reeds vergete en lê aandete om agt uur nog ver in die toekoms. Hierdie melktert is ‘n opgekikkerde weergawe van die outydse melkterte wat ons van ons oumas onthou.

ROOIBOS-KARDAMOM-MELKTERT

Maak 12 tertjies

Bestanddele

  • 4 teelepels heuning
  • 2 teelepels meelblom
  • 2 teelepels botter
  • 1 teelelepel mielieblom (Maizina)
  • 3 eiers geskei
  • 6 kardamom peule gekneus
  • 600ml melk
  • 2 sakkies rooibostee
  • 2 teelepels fyn kaneel
  • 2 teelepels suiker

Maak ‘n pasta met die meelblom, mielieblom, heuning en ‘n bietjie van die melk

Bring die res van die melk tot kookpunt met die botter, teesakkies en karadamom-peule

Laat die melk 10 minute afkoel nadat dit gekook het

Gooi deur ‘n vergiettes om die peule en teesakkies te verwyder

Klits die eierwitte styf

Voeg die melk by die eiergele in ‘n kastrol en verhit versigtig. Laat stadig prut tot die vla verdik

Verkoel en vou die geklopte eierwitte daarin

Voer een groot tertbak met broskors uit of gebruik twaalf klein tertdoppies.

Gooi die vlamengsel in die kors en bak 20 minute (vir die klein doppies) of 30 minute (vir die groot tert) by ‘180 grade Celsius

Bestrooi met kaneel en suiker

Banting Boerie

Everything keeps going right

The long walk.jpgKalahari highwayThe ladies at the swimming poolEVERYTHING KEEPS GOING RIGHT

EVERYTHING KEEPS GOING RIGHT

The lions showed themselves to Nishka first, early one morning a few weeks ago. Still bleary eyed with sleep, woolly scarf wrapped around her face and neck, leaving only two brown raisin eyes navigating the chilly Kalahari air, she was unaware of the six ghostly forms slinking round the lodge deck. Until the leader of the group, a fierce young lioness with a very bold personality, appeared right in front of the oncoming young chef, wary interest in her yellow eyes, tail swishing, head slightly dropped,

Nishka, who is quite comfortable with a crisis or two in the kitchen, kept her pose. Reversing slowly, now wide awake, with one eye on the lioness, the other eye on the slinking shapes around the deck, she moved behind the fence of the outside shower of a nearby bungalow. From the safety of the enclosed area she watched the pride reconnoitring the area for a few minutes until she could hear Jacobus approaching in the game drive vehicle. He had been on the early morning pick up mission to transport staff for early morning coffee and the first game drive of the day. All the signs of human activity alerted the four young lionesses, beautiful black mane lion and mature lioness and they unwillingly retired to the shady trees next to the water hole.

Since that eventful wake-up call the group has made its presence clear with earth shuddering roars at night, playful interaction with one another in front of the deck to the guests’ great amusement and affording great photo opportunities to  them and to Jacobus.

The pride was still very active when Gerard and I packed the Prado for an unexpected trip to South Africa last week. A dear friend had passed away. The memorial service was scheduled for Saturday, but we decided to leave on the Wednesday before. Late on Tuesday evening I was in our kitchen preparing “padkos” for the 1000km trip, when Gerard burst into the house and furiously threw the car keys onto the kitchen table.

“No need to make those sarmies. We are not going. The front wheel of the Prado just fell of.” His shoulders slumped as he fell into a kitchen chair.

By the light of a flash I inspected the tragedy: as Gerard turned to reverse closer to the stoep for him to load the luggage with no feline interference, the right front wheel of the car gave way like a bad runners’ knee at Comrades. Our transport was securely stuck with her right nostril buried in Kalahari sand,

Next morning new plans were made. Jacobus offered the loan of his Surf, the luggage was loaded, padkos packed, and at 10h00 we drove cheerfully away amidst the wave of many tissues and admonishments to “drive safely”. An hour later the stop at the vetenary fence 30km from the lodge required we walk through dip and the wheels of the car be doused with poison. With no thought as to possible consequences Gerard switched the Surf off. Duty to Botswana cattle done, we boarded, Gerard turned the key and  … nothing. Just a feeble, depressing “click”.

Out comes the tool box, of course packed beneath all the rest of the luggage so carefully relegated to various spots just a little over an hour ago. By that time the Botswana sun was ready to launch its sting into the white winter afternoon. Gerard and the local inhabitants of the vetenary post tried all remedies known to man: hard knocks on the battery connections, inspections of the car’s underbelly while destroying the carefully chosen “going away” outfit chosen for the visit that morning, repeated turns of the rebellious starter. The answer remained the same: just a click.

In that remote spot there were obviously none of the escape routes so useful in city life; no cell phone reception, no nifty tow trucks, no wifi, no way to communicate with the outside world. Between Fefodia Foka, the gate, and Deception Valley Lodge lay two farms, their homesteads deep into the bush. On the lonely 150km stretch from Fefodia Foka and Kuki gate the lonely traveller has only the vetenary fence and the wide open Kalahari bush as company. Very seldom do more than two cars pass this way during the day, and then mostly early morning or late afternoon. A breakdown anywhere in this remote wildernis requires a lot of resilience and innovative action to get going again. But it was clear that the starter motor of the Surf had decided at that inconvenient spot to cease in that area bordering the Central Kalahari Game Reserve where the highest population of lion can be found.

By twelve noon I philosophically delved deep into my suitcase and brought forth my running gear. Just three days before I watched with a sad heart how my former Randburg running mates finished Comrades and longed for activity that was not allowed by the continuous presence of the pesky lions. Here was my opportunity: a thirty kilometre walk back to the lodge, with the very same pressure as at Comrades. It was essential that we reach the lodge before sunset to prevent one of both of us from falling into the claws of these same predators.

 

We set of bright and brisk, armed with the padkos and a cooler with water. By that time the sun was at its highest point and temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. Gerard’s jaunty Pringle cap was made with the crisp mornings of the Scottish Highlands in mind. In the white Botswana sun it did not take long before rivers of perspiration fogged up his shades. But the scarcity of hair growth on the crown of his head made any wish to chuck the cap into the bush highly unwise.

Three hours into the walk we stopped for a light “lunch”. A tuna sarmie each, and large gulps of water. The two car tracks in the sandy bush reached over the dunes like twin scars, stretching as far as the eye could see. The sand was loose, and the tracks just too narrow to make walking in them comfortable. Gerard was taking strain. Although he is at seventy years old fit and strong, his legs were unaccustomed to so many hours of walking. Time was not on our side. We had to reach the lodge before five o’clock as sunset would start soon thereafter,

“You walk ahead,” Gerard suggested. “Try to find help. I will continue at a slower pace.”

Soon I drew ahead and after thirty minutes could no longer see my husband in the distance.

When running a long distance, such as an ultra-marathon, exhaustion affects one’s reasoning. Mental arithmetic becomes increasingly difficult. Four hours after starting out with lots of enthusiasm my calculations to determine distance and time became muddled. At least there are distance markers in any road race. To my tired eyes every sand dune ahead promised to be the last one before the turn off to Deception Valley Lodge. When after walking for four and a half hours the gate to our neighbouring farm came in site, an emotion akin to desperation stopped me in my tracks. Noticing the tracks of a leopard over the tracks of the Surf a kilometre back had tied my intestines into a knot. I was surrounded by winter grassland and low Kalahari trees, seemingly peaceful and innocuous. Yet the sudden squawk of a guinea fowl or the whisper of a ground squirrel in the shrubbery chilled my bones.I was surrounded by wildernis with still a long way to go.

From the neighbour’s property I knew it was still a 10km walk home: three up to the gate of our property and another seven to the main building of the lodge. At the rate I was walking I would be lucky to arrive before sundown, with the route through the area where the six lions were loitering. And should I be able to safely traverse this lion pit it would take another thirty minutes to find a vehicle and drive back to collect Gerard. Seldom in my more than sixty years had I felt more lonely than at that point.

However, there was no other alternative but to continue. Taking another swig of the lukewarm water I tried to get back into the rhythm of my stride. Forty minutes later I saw the turn off to our property and my mood lifted somewhat. In fact, my mood became so lifted that for a few seconds I was convinced the hot sun and strains of the day had made me delusional. Because, surely, surely, was that not the promising rattle of a clapped out Kalahari four wheel vehicle I was hearing in the distance?

Through contact lenses dimmed with sand and perspiration and,  maybe some tired tears, I identified the dust brown outline of the neighbour’s Land Rover. As he screeched to a halt beside me, Gerard’s dust streaked face in the passenger seat beamed up at me. With stiff legs I pulled myself up over the gas bottles, tyres and tar poles on the bakkie and sank gratefully down amidst the Spar shopping bags and boxes of potatoes and onions. The neighbour had done some shopping in Maun 180km away,  and was on his way back. Either by luck or in answer to a prayer, Gerard was about a hundred metres before the turn off to their property when the neighbour saw him. A hundred and fifty metres further he would have been missed and neither he nor I may have been around to tell this story.

Later that evening, after a warm bath and armed with glasses of wine, we reflected on the strange twists life makes. Were we just not meant to be with our friend who had lost his mate? Were we rescued from more blisters and a Colosseum-fate known to unlucky slaves in Rome because our silent prayers were heard or did the neighbour just randomly steer his bakkie that way at that time?

And the biggest and most intriguing question of all: how did it happen that two four wheel members of that well loved stable where everything keeps going right were left by the road side only to see its owners being rescued by, of all the scorned bush wackers joked about around bush braais, a Land Rover?