The citrus trees are unaccomstomed to all this water and we have to make plans all the time with hundreds of oranges and limes and lemons needing to be picked NOW. So of course, first things first, and that means hauling out the copper jam pot and lining one side of the pantry with a dyke of sugar. Then off to the Koöperasie for jam jars and also orange bags, while I’m at it. You order and pay inside and then drive to the warehouse at the back which smells of animal feed and shaved wood to collect your goeters. It’s a semi-dark space with little birds flitting in and out of the high windows and the isolated voices of the men working there, speaking the half-sentences of those who know each other well enough to complete the unsaid. While the guys are packing my jam jars in a box that once held grinder blades, I wander about the yard searching for pools of thin winter sun. There are cement water troughs and farm gates. Big rolls of fencing. A heap of disused shop fittings and a broken fridge advertising sheep medicine.
The plaasbakkie’s door is open. Even though the seat is covered in fabric, it has the look of leather from years of hurried gettings in and out, work jeans polishing the fibres to an oily sheen. A little bulge of yellow foam escapes from a worn patch on the door side. A plaasbakkie carries in its cabin a memory collection of desperate prayers, emergency dashes to the hospital (blood stains on the passenger seat) and jubilant drives in the countryside as the bakkie bobs over the dirt road. Scattered about are hastily scribbled measurements and lists on scraps of paper and cardboard, a few screws and a rusty set of keys that’s been there forever and of which nobody knows the purpose. At the feet of the passenger is a collection of odd tools that dirty your town shoes if they touch. Behind the seat, a gnarled plastic bottle with water in case the radiator leaks. This is the green bakkie.
The last thing I want to tell you about the plaasbakkies is that we went to Cape Town a while ago in the green bakkie. I found great merit in this exercise. We could see properly where we were going and I even won a little parking competition between a lady with a shiny big blue car and myself. Also would like to mention that she started it.
Nou ja. Enough about bakkies. There is another crate of oranges at the back door. Today I will make orange chutney. And buy more jars. Sugar’s still enough.
Love to all of you – I so hope you can visit one day.