Monday, December 31, 2007

6 Things I Appreciated About Phokeng This Christmas Season

1. The Christmas Celebrations

Christmas celebrations in Phokeng were wonderful. As my sister's husband is American, and his mother was also staying with us through the holiday, we had a combination of African and American Christmas Day.

The menu was primarily African - we reckoned the American menu works for a winter Christmas, not a sweltering 34 degrees
Celcius :-)

But Eileen (mother-in-law) baked a number of cakes and pies and cookies usually prepared for Amerian families.

Eileen's berry pie
Originally uploaded by damariasenne

We also had a gift exchange session early in the morning.

2. Being Close To Things That Inspire Me

When I was little, my mother made up many a story about this road, the dam and the hill out there in the horizon. I also made up a few stories.

3. Working With The Environment

Summer weather in Phokeng is hot and dry, usually staying in the mid-thirties. So most people wake up at dawn so they can finish their chores before the heat saps their energy.

The trees, a combination of indigenous and those planted by the villagers, provide the shade which allows people to walk around the village at certain times of the day.

Originally uploaded by damariasenne

Most people also sit in the shade outside during the day, so they can enjoy the resultant breeze.

4. My Mother's Garden

Facing the small gate
Originally uploaded by damariasenne

My family, especially my mother, loves sitting on the stoep, facing the garden and the road ( see view in the pic).

Sitting there, you can chat with another family member, listen to some music from the livingroom behind the stoep, or even work off a laptop if you are so inclined.

You can also exchange greetings with neighbours as they walk/drive past. Local custom dictates that you greet the people you meet (we know not to greet when we are in a different environment,like an elevator in town:-). Those you are friendly with stop for a moment if they are not in a hurry to share news.

Warning: If you do not want to be disturbed, do not sit out front where the neighbours can easily see you, as that will be construed as an invitation to socialise!

Mma's front garden
Originally uploaded by damariasenne

5. Plenty of Fresh Food

Most people in Phokeng grow maize in summer. They also grow a variety of vegetables and fruit which grow easily in the area and don't require much care.

Originally uploaded by damariasenne

These include beans, pumpkins, watermelon and spinach

Because of the heavy rains in spring/summer, you can keep as big a garden as you like. All you have to do is make the soil ready and plant the seed. Later, you just have to keep weeding the garden.

Phokeng does not have a garbage disposal system (as in, no one comes to get the garbage bins), so throughout the year people dig holes in their gardens, bury what can be buried ( peels etc) and burn what they can. This system nourishes the soil for when they plant.

6. A Place To Relax

This is one of the places where I can completely relax. I can sit around all day doing nothing, or work if I want to. These past holidays I even had the opportunity to photograph some flowers, and chase a couple of birds ( and butterflies) in my mother's garden.

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