Thula Mama


There’s a sense of autumn about; it’s not yet in the leaves (they are still very green) but there’s a slight early morning nip in the air now. Not enough to warrant a jersey but enough to send a shiver down my spine, not because I’m cold but because it fills me with anxiety, that yet another season has flown by so quickly, as well as with anticipation of all that is still to come – Like chill dawn waiting for sunrise.

I was paid a wonderful compliment the other day when our immediate neighbours visited us to find out what plants and trees have grown successfully on our land. While I was showing them around “the estate”, they asked me to help them design their garden and then offered to pay me! And I’m tempted. I would love to create another garden, knowing what I know now from having grown my own from scratch; although, as I was giving them the grand tour, I was cringing at all the weeds and overgrown shrubs spoiling the overall effect. So much so that I have been pruning and weeding like a demented woman ever since. Pruning is even more therapeutic than weeding, especially since I have someone to clear up after my secateurs have been unleashed. Fortunately it was the right moon phase to do it. We’re in the last quarter now and this is known as the “destroying” moon, as plant energy and moisture fall to their lowest levels. Strange as this may seem, I can almost feel this change in energy in the garden, it’s as if everything has ground to a standstill. Except the cucumbers, they are proliferating and expanding at a rapid rate. These cucumbers are the old-fashioned kind with prickles on the skin, and boy are they tasty. I see in my Ultimate Moon Gardening Guide that produce harvested during this phase will be “plump, firm and flavoursome”. Well, that they are.


Last night, after a particularly savage onslaught against the viburnum, I was in the mood for something very light for dinner. We opened a tin (yes, a tin) of the most delicious Parma ham, given to us by Peter’s brother, Richard, and his wife, Debbie, when they returned from a holiday in Italy, and piled it on top of slices of nectarines, which are very tasty at this time of year it seems. We added a salad made with lettuce, herbs and cucumber, all from the allotment, drizzled with Nuweland Mulberry Salad Splash (“homemade on the farmlands of the Swartland”). All topped off with a slice of Peter’s homemade health bread. ‘Twas a feast, to be sure. If you ever see tinned Parma ham in the shops, buy it, it is incredibly tasty and there’s enough in the tin for several meals. The same goes for the Mulberry Salad Splash. I’m going to make my own salad splash using raspberries instead.

raspberries steeped in white wine

raspberries steeped in white wine

On Sunday we went to a wonderful music recital at the Mandela capture site. The capture site and accompanying Truth cafe and store are, in my opinion, a joke. I would be embarrassed to take a visitor there, other than to see the monument, which is impressive, but difficult to get to. In the museum you can see some posters of Mandela; you can buy a mug and a t-shirt in the store; and you can have a shitty meal in the cafe. So bloody typical of this province – I think the site is managed by uMngeni Municipality which, as the saying goes, could not organise a piss-up in a brewery. The music, however, was lovely, featuring Njabulo Madlala (baritone) and Christopher Duigan (piano). I had tears in my eyes when Madlala sang Thula Mama, and again when Duigan played The Mountain by Abdullah Ibrahim. Not sure why it affected me like that, must be something to do with the moon. Madlala also sang a very stirring rendition of a verse from Nkosi Sikelel’i and commented that we all need to pray for South Africa at this difficult time in our history. It was made all the more moving as he stood in front of a huge poster of Mandela, which seemed to emphasise just how far we have strayed from Mandela’s vision for S.A.  He sang a couple of Miriam Makeba songs (I saw on Google this week that she was born 81 years ago) as well as some classical stuff. The show ended with Shosholoza as the encore and everyone in the audience danced out of the venue behind him in a long conga line! That was a nice touch, I thought.


My neighbours (the horticulturally -challenged ones) do not live here permanently. He wants to retire here but she seems reluctant to make the move. She asked me what I do here all day and I mentioned gardening, writing, taking photos etc. and she then wanted to know if that was enough to keep me busy all the time. My response was that I don’t feel the need to be constantly busy anymore and that, I have to confess, is not altogether true. It’s scary how inculcated the Protestant Work Ethic is in our psyches. If we are not doing anything, then we must be either lazy or bored. The devil makes work for idle hands, and all that. And my little, mean-spirited inner lizard is very fond of reminding me of that, especially when I’m busy being busy and Peter is sitting, reading yet another murder mystery. Perhaps the key to our happiness is the ability to do nothing and find it immensely rewarding! I’m working on it.



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