When first I moved to the lowveld, I was really broke. I mean REALLY broke. After doing some sums, I worked out that I’d survive the month if I ate nothing but rice.
The house that came with the job was a sprawling old farm house. It was huge. I only ever used two rooms of it, and each room was about as large as my entire cottage is now. It had three bedrooms and a massive lounge-dining room that I never used at all, and the whole thing had parquet flooring.
Anyone who has ever had parquet flooring will know how much work the upkeep is, and part of the deal was that I would take good care of the house - it was a daunting task. Within the first week I was approached by a man whose wife needed a job, even a part-time one, but I turned him away since I didn’t have the money to pay for help.
Eventually, he persuaded me to take her on for two days a week under the understanding that I’d only pay her at the end of the month. She worked her first day, and boy! Those floors gleamed.
The very next day, I was stopped on my rounds by an elderly lady who was employed on the farm. She wanted to give me a pumpkin. I was touched by her kindness, and privately thought that she had no idea how grateful I was to have that pumpkin to vary my diet with.
A bit further along my round, I was stopped by one of the section supervisors who gave me a shopping bag full of home-grown tomatoes. I became thoughtful.
I was presented in rapid succession with paw-paws, a bunch of spinach, an offer of credit from the farm store and some carp caught from the dam and nicely cleaned.
It didn’t take a genius to work it out: young Nomsa had seen the dismal state of my grocery cupboard and had mobilized the compound to come to my aid with food. That night, I feasted on fresh-caught fish and garden vegetables, and after two weeks of rice, it was the best meal I ever had.
I’ll always be thankful for the kindness of these country folk who gave of the little they had and with no particular expectation of return. Of course, it wasn't all roses... but that's for another day.
(Today's pic: more messing about in the dew)