Grootwordjare

 

Apologies to non-Afrikaans readers, but every now and then I might write something in my mother tongue, something that’s been nagging in the back of my mind for a while now.

Geskryf na aanleiding van Toeka-Tokkel: Grootword (ek is ‘n so laat met hierdie pos, dis toeka al se onderwerp). Dis redelik lank vandat ek enigiets anders as ‘n nuus email aan familie in Afrikaans geskryf het en toe ek oor die onderwerp begin dink was die eerste ding wat die titel in my gedagtes laat opkom het Laurika Rauch wat sing: “Ek het in my kinderjare…” (uit: “Kyk hoe glinster die maan”). En wanneer ‘n liedjie in my kop vassteek laat los dit my nie sommer nie.

My kinderjare was ‘n tyd van sorgvry kaalvoet loop en wegkruip onder my bed sodat my ma my nie in die werk kon steek terwyl ek Knikkie gelees het nie. Grootword op ‘n kleinhoewe het beteken dat ons na die draad gestap het, ons buremaatjie geroep het en so oor en weer gespeel het. Ons was bevoorreg om spasie rondom ons te hê en nie beklemd net ‘n paar meter van die bure se huis af te woon nie; ons het vars wortels uit die grond getrek, die sand daarvan afgeskud en dit net daar geëet, en net so ook boontjies van die rank af gepluk en geëet met ‘n uitsig oor Tafelberg – soms skoon en oop of andersins toe onder sy wolkekombers. Elke Sondag was daar die heerlikste vars gebraaide hoender vir middagete en wintertye het ons knus voor die antrasietkaggel gesit. Ons het nie geweet van wegneemetes nie, en Spur toe gaan was ‘n groot bederf.

Vakansietye het lang paaie Namibië of Knysna toe beteken. ‘n Boer kan nie sy plaas summier laat staan om te gaan vakansie hou nie so ons het by tye vir twee jaar lank uitgesien na ons volgende weggaanvakansie. Ek kan goed onthou hoe my pa ons ou geel Kombi gepak het sodat ek en my suster albei ‘n lêplek kan hê op die lang pad en op pad Namibië toe in die winter het ons die vensters afgedraai hoe verder noord ons gery en die weer warmer begin raak het. Biltong en naartjies was die beste padkos en hande by die venster uitsteek en die persoon wat voor jou sit deur die oop venster met ‘n sproei van gedrukte naartjieskil verras, die beste vermaak. Later jare het ons kinders die dorpe langs die N7 geken en ons vordering so gemeet en ek onthou nog die kamele by Noordoewer waar ons soms oorgeslaap het. Stilhou by Vingerklip (en weer en weer op volgende geleenthede want ek het so baie daarvan gehou ek het altyd gevra om weer te gaan kyk) en die wonder van die natuur aanskou en dan ook jare later in Desember 1989 weer daar stop net na die beroemde klip hartseer geval en verkrummel het. Die enkele keer wat ons (as ‘n baie groot bederf) Windhoek toe gevlieg het vir ‘n kort vakansie was vliegtuigry nog ‘n formele affêre en ons het ons beste klere aangetrek (en is ironies op die vliegtuig deur rokers omring) en deur vriende van my ouers by die lughawe opgetel met hulle bakkie en ek en my pa het agterop gesit in ons Sondagklere tussen die koffers. Wind in die hare gesoek wie kan die eerste wild raaksien.

Buite Grootfontein op ‘n plaas by ander vriende het ek die wonder van suurroom wat gemaak is van vars melk ontdek, en leer biltong maak in ‘n vleiskamer wat slegs gaas gehad het vir vensters sodat die biltong en droëwors kon winddroog, maar wat ook beteken het ons hande in die nat biltong het gevries totdat ons nie ons vingers kon voel nie. In my geestesoog sien ek nog duidelik die prentjie van my vierjarige self wat saam met my ouers en sussie sit op die bankies wat hang agter in ‘n Hercules vliegtuig – een waarvan ek die dreuning enige plek sal herken – die keer toe ons vanaf Grootfontein na Pretoria lugmagbasis gevlieg het na my bababoetie oorlede is terwyl ons met vakansie was, en sy klein wit kissie voor ons. ‘n Herinnering wat ‘n groot indruk gemaak het maar nie mooi verstaan is deur ‘n vierjarige nie.

Die pad terug vanaf vakansies in Namibië was sinoniem met kouer en natter weer en male sonder tal het die Clanwilliam dam oorgeloop teen die tyd dat ons weer daar verbygery het op pad Kaap toe – altyd ‘n teken van goeie rëen. Dieselfde Clanwilliam dam waar ons soms warm somersdae verwyl het op waterski’s. Knysna was waar ek leer waterski het en lekker geval het ook, en die beste tyd van die dag was 6 uur soggens voor al die ander bote wakker geword en die spiëelglad water omgewoel het (al het ek as tiener lekker gekla omdat ek self nog nie mooi wakker was nie en my Pa my en my suster beurtelings die koue water ingestuur het om die boot nader te bring), en oujaarsaande op Knysna was tradisioneel vetkoekaande.

Waterski by Clanwilliamdam in die laat tagtigerjare

Waterski by Clanwilliamdam in die laat tagtigerjare

My liefde vir diere het ook sy oorsprong in my kinderjare en ek kan nie ‘n tyd onthou sonder troeteldiere nie. Die besondere voorreg om ‘n vulletjie present gegee te word in my laat tienerjare deur my suster en swaer en die ondervinding om toe te leer hoe om ‘n jong perd te leer terwyl ek haar geleer het deur ure van liefdevolle aandag en geduld en haar self die eerste keer stadig, baie rustig en in ‘n beheerde omgewing opgeklim het sal ek vir niks verruil nie al het sy my een keer gebyt en ‘n ander keer (per ongeluk) vierkantig op my voet gaan staan.

My vulletjiepresent as volgroeide merrie in die Kalahari

My vulletjiepresent as volgroeide merrie in die Kalahari

En toe ‘n paar jaar later was daar, soos Laurika sing: “’n man so soet soos suiker… en in sy hande ‘n diamant”. En nou, tussendeur die nakom van daaglikse verantwoordelikhede, storm en drang en soms kopstamp met drie spruite wat heeltemal te vinning grootword, die hoop dat ons ons kinders goeie herinneringe van hulle eie kinderjare gee.

Project “Being Domesticated”

A friend of mine complimented me the other day on being quite domesticated and I had to be truthful in that yes, I do enjoy being in my own space and being domesticated but only up to a point and that I sometimes find myself a project (such as creating a new flower bed where previously there was just paving or making our own biltong) rather than clean the house. These projects are always for the benefit of the family – it’s not like I go on a read-as-many-books-as-I can-in-a-day project or something like that – but it usually takes up more time than the task I was putting off doing would have taken, which I eventually have to do anyway, I’ve just delayed the inevitable and created more work for myself so I end up running around like a road runner bird. Hygiene is paramount to me though, and the essential areas such as kitchen and bathrooms are cleaned regularly, the house gets vacuumed and so on and I do love it when the house is clean and tidy, sometimes I just struggle with some motivational issues in this area.

Take doing the laundry for instance. This is actually one department that I don’t have a problem staying on top of and with a family of five there is always washing to be done. Add some exercise clothes to that and at least one daily load is required to stay ahead. Which brings me to another point – our laundry hamper is labelled “65l Laundry Hamper” – how do you measure your laundry or washing in litres? It’s either empty, full, or somewhere in between and hopefully not overflowing but what would be the point in the kids ever saying to me that “The laundry hamper has 20l capacity left” if they need me to wash their school sport uniform for instance? I admit to over-thinking and over-analysing things sometimes but that’s just me and while I’m at it, the part that really gets me is folding and putting away the clean, dry washing. Up to that point I feel like I’ve added value to the process (got it clean, got it dry) but from there on it just feels like I’m moving it from one place to another which feels like such a waste of valuable time.

Sewing is another department that I’m seriously lacking in. One of my grandmothers used to be a seamstress, my mum is good at sewing, knitting, crotchet and all things related, my sister is good at it and so are her daughters but I’ve never had any interest whatsoever. I’ve never had the patience or perseverance required to work on something for hours on end and only have my imagination (or even a pattern) of the promised finished product to motivate me to keep going.  I’d much rather do a jigsaw puzzle where my progress is more visual and my chances of success are better. Or plant something in the garden. In year 8 I had to knit a toilet roll holder as part of the compulsory home economics course and I procrastinated until the day before it was due to be handed in because I couldn’t face doing it but then I had to stay up most of the night to finish it. And the wool was yellow. A yellow amateur looking toilet roll holder knitted with a bad attitude. It was torture and enough to put me off knitting for life. When I saw some funky, colourful crotched cushions in a magazine a few years ago I decided that I’d love to be able to do that, they looked so gorgeous. But when I tried to crotchet it felt like I had five thumbs on each hand. This was not going to work. I would still like to be able to do it but I’ll need a Mount Everest load of patience and by that time the house will need cleaning again.

Baking cakes is something else I’ve never been confident doing, but when we bought a bread machine about 10 years ago and I discovered that our local bread mix shop sells the most amazing range of pre-mixes that are fool proof and even I could do it, I branched out and started baking all sorts of interesting breads. My family loves home baked Turkish bread and fresh, warm Lebanese flat breads go so well with Lamb Souvlaki or other dishes that you eat in a wrap and the kids will come home today to freshly baked hot cross buns. I enjoy cooking as well, given that I have the time not to just put a quick rushed meal on the table.

My garden is my haven and I spend hours keeping it trimmed, watered, fed, fertilised and weeded. With my husband usually training for an endurance event of some sorts he quite often doesn’t have time to mow the lawn and I’ll happily do it rather than scrub the shower. I planted some Kalamata olive trees a few years ago and the crop has been such in the past that we had enough bottled olives to last us more than a year, and I love being able to pick fresh herbs from my garden. I’ve recently launched project “Expand And Plant More Edible Crops” and added some berry bushes and it’s great going outside, picking a fresh gooseberry and eating it right there.

Some olives from our crop a few years ago

Some olives from our crop a few years ago

Part of my herb/berry garden

Part of my herb/berry garden

I’ve taken on some other “projects” as well, such as making our own Dukkah (to eat with the Turkish bread) and biltong, both of which aren’t hard to do but take up a bit of time and as it is I’m already planning to make the next batch of biltong on my next day off work. Our house will never look like it’s from a photo in a home décor magazine, it looks too well lived in and it’s impossible to keep it perfectly tidy all the time unless I keep moving around and picking things up and putting them away when they’d been left by others as some in the family aren’t very good at putting things away. I would love it to always be tidy but time is limited and one has to make choices about where best to spend it and then I usually remember that our Dukkah is nearly finished and I need to make some more or a swim with the kids sounds like a better idea. As I sit here I know the filing needs to be done but I’ve just remembered I noticed yesterday that some of the new season’s olives looked ripe. I’d better go check on them before the birds get to them. They might need to be picked, and then the preparation process starts soaking them in water for a couple of weeks, rinsing them daily and then bottling them…