Monday, March 14, 2011

Perde, kaf en koffers. A story from the West Coast.


A few days ago, C. (the man of the generous heart), wrote from Berlin to tell me how he'd learnt that Jean Rocher had died. So beautiful.

Ek het so hele klompie jare gelede in die Aurora Handelshuis gevra na beskuit.  Toe sê hulle ek moet vir Elna loop vra.  Ek ry soos hulle verduidelik het, op by die bult, die laaste huis aan die linkerkant.  Regoor die huis, aan die regterkant van die pad, is 'n groot skuur met karre en wrakke en engins wat orals binne en buite rondstaan.  Uit die skuur kom 'n man flink aangestap en hy vra my wat ek soek.  Beskuit, sê ek.
Saam stap ons na die groot Victoriaanse huis se voordeur, die mechanic en ek, hy maak oop en bulder af by die gang: Elna!  Nog 'n keer: Elna!  'n Vrouestem: Ja?  Mechanic: Kom hier!
Sy kom, en bring beskuit, ons gesels, ek koop.  Tussendeur maak ek 'n kommentaar oor die mooi ou huis, die ou meubels, en die portrette teen die muur. 
Hier hang hulle, die dooies!  Wie's dit?, vra ek, effens uit die veld geslaan.  Die Rocher familie van St. Helenafontein.  Ek praat met een van die seuns.  Wow, Rocher, ek ken vir oom Jean Rocher, sê ek.  Ja, ons het hom nounet laasweek begrawe!
En dit is hoe ek toe geleer het van die dood van een van die helde in my lewe.  Nie dat hy noodwendig my held was nie.  Ek het onsettend baie van hom gehou, maar hy was eintlik maar almal se held.  'n Man wat volgens sy eie reëls gelewe het, met soveel passie en 'n fyngevoel wat regtig raar is op die SA platteland.  Ek mis hom.
Ek dink die eerste vrou se naam was Käthe.  Sy was maar 'n bietjie van 'n hermit, altyd in die huis, gordyne toe.  So eenvoudige opstal op die rand van die Sandveld, in daai jare.  Dit was seker nie maklik nie, sy het seker maar 'n bietjie mal geraak.  En een of ander tyd geloop.  Om plek te maak vir die perskebloeiseltjie, die buurvrou.
O ja, voor ek vergeet.  Hy is wel beroemd as teler van spogperde, maar belangrik is om te verstaan hoe die woord uit sy mond gekom het.  Met 'n swaar Sandveld brei, pêhrre.
Pêhrremense.


C.'s family are also Pêhrremense. Horse People. The tin rondavels above are on Jean Rocher's farm Duinefontein, near Velddrif.
We stayed there a few times in our twenties. One time in particular stands out indelible and bright. I remember we left town quite late one saturday morning. For sustenance in the car we had ginger snaps, a bottle of Old Brown Sherry, and maybe a joint. The sandy farm road combined with a loose plate under our little Mazda 323 acted as a spade and we got stuck in a drift. We walked to the rondavels to get help from our friends.
Halfway there, against the horizon of sand dunes and purple heather, a lone white horse stood watching us. I remember C. warning me about the skittish nature of horses - Arabians in particular, but I felt fearless. One horse soon became three. They were inquisitive and gentle, and exquisite. To say that they were well-groomed would be an understatement. It was as if they'd just been to the salon. Blow waved. Delicious smelling.



I only met Jean Rocher the one time. He wore a deerstalker, which he tipped when he said good afternoon. Shy and twinkly-eyed. I never did meet his Peach Blossom.


10 comments:

D said...

It took a moment for the light bulb to come on. The tin huts are on the coast of what is now CapeNature's Rocherpan Nature Reserve. I'm the ecological planner for tourism (and the upgrade that's about to happen there) - sadly the now very rusted tin huts are about to be demolished to provide a recreation site on the footprint, and the ramshackle old Rocher homestead is already overshadowed by the new railway, abandoned and full of rubbish and angry bees. In October of 2008 I picked up an old Consol preserving jar out of the junk and took a photo of a gravestone from the homestead that reads "Karawaan Gee haar vir my weer 1970-1998". Definitely horse people.

BTW thanks for your exquisite writing and images - Rosie found you via Marie's blog and we've both become regular readers.

Donovan

Lily Turner said...

Donovan,
Thank you so much for commenting. It gave me cold shivers whilst reading.
Lily

D said...

Pleasure. Weird small world. Last year we stayed in a flat block right in front of the police paddocks, so we also get a little Tamboerskloof envy when you mention the clip clop of hooves there.

J. said...

Lily dearest,
I tried to send a message this morning from your laptop, but something went wrong. This post was such a lovely way to start the day. (when on earth did you write it - in the middle of the night?? )
Thank you for cooking for me and looking after me and making me swim last night and writing so beautifully and making me laugh till juice came out my nose.
Along with all the masses,
I love you.

arcadia said...

Beautiful. Ek is mal oor Velddrif.

Marie said...

Ek wens ek het pehrrre gehad. Dankie vir die storie.

Petro said...

Daar is so baie wonderlike, interessante mense op die aarde. Maar ons ontmoet hulle nie altyd nie. Dankie vir die wonderlike storie. Ek wens daar was meer storievertellers soos jy.

Lily Turner said...

'n Absolute plesier.

Anonymous said...

Aai Lil ...daar sit ek nou met voggies in my oê...so mooi geskryf...dankie

Elephant's Eye said...

I came here while wondering who the Rocher Pan is named for. How wonderful to find a little living history. Will be linking to you ;~)