Some days I find myself sitting quietly and reflecting and savouring my happy childhood memories. It wasn’t all moonshine and roses but I chose to remember the good old days…
I remember that fresh baked bread smell and warm biscuits smell coming from Mamma’s kitchen. Stealing half the cookie dough that was left to “rest” when Mamma wasn’t looking.
Some of my best memories were created during school holidays when we went to visit Ma, Mamma’s mom, on the farm in the Cederberg. There is nothing quite like running out in the wild, diving into God made rock pools and picking your fruit straight from the tree and collecting your veg from the garden. There is also that other side, the one that freaks me out a little, about having to slaughter your own meat. I never ate freshly slaughtered meat. Just couldn’t stomach that meat. Don’t get me started on seeing a headless chicken running around the tree – it’s great fun at the time but then they expect you to eat it. No can do. Up until today I still don’t like freshly slaughtered meat, fresh milk and fresh eggs – it is just too rich. Nothing quite like picking those cherries from the tree – I love cherries – and I used to eat it to my heart’s content. These days they just don’t taste the same…Picking Almonds from the tree. My pockets were always filled with cherries and almonds and you would generally find me sitting on a big rock watching the pigs paly in the mud. We used to love feeding the lambs and billy goats their milk bottles.
I remember Ma making me rooibos tea, not a teabag from the shop. This was pure rooibos from the tea field complete in her home made little bag and all. And of course those “harde koekies” she used to bake. It wasn’t ginger but I’m also not entirely sure what they were. I distinctly remember her last batch she made for me, she was in her 80’s and it was just before I moved to Gauteng. She came to visit Mamma and as we stood in the kitchen waiting for her to unpack her basket she said to me “ooh jchent “meaning kind or child” maak tog vir jou moer koffie want daai koekies is so hard en moet gedoop word. And believe me it was moer hard. I ate them with the same conviction as what I always ate those cookies. I didn’t want her to be disappointed…but fuck knows why that batch was SO hard.
Ma also had a puffadder, yes a real live snake, living in the big tree in front of the house. like right by the gate -you need to pass the tree to get to the front door. She called him Oupa. He used to slither on the stoep to wherever he went during the day and come back at night. And this was whilst Ma and the dog would sit on the stoep. They never bothered each other. They had a mutual living arrangement. I shat myself thinking we used to sleep on that stoep, in summer under the beautiful starry skies. Where was Oupa all that time… Probably sleeping on the bed next to us…
After I moved to Gauteng I used to have weekly Sunday afternoon calls with Ma. I just wanted to check in on her so to say as she lived by herself. I could hear the excitement in her voice every single time as this was as important for her as it was for me. She always said that I must come visit her cos she will NEVER get into an airplane. And she never did. If there was a storm MA would end our conversation so quickly because we cannot possibly use the phone during a storm. She would close all the mirrors and the tv with a blanket because of the lightning. Before they got “Telkom lines” they had an operator system. How each resident knew whose call it was, was beyond me but apparently everyone had a different ring tone/number of rings. But let me tell you those old people were naughty – they used to listen in on each other’s conversations all the time. Sometimes we had a few calls during the week too.
Ma passed away in 2010, just before her 94th birthday. Someday we will take him back to the Cedarberg again, as he was only 5 months old when we went to the funeral. I miss those good old days. I miss her cookies and I miss her rooibos tea. I miss her cuckoo clock – this thing was the most fascinating clock ever. I even miss those rogue geese and ram that used to chase us ALL the time.
I miss Ma.