The upside of it is that I get to walk more often, trying to remember what it was I was supposed to do. Back and forth, up and down I would trudge, steps, dirt roads and the occasional hill. But I dislike overgrown beetroots even more than my nagging secretary. The taste is woody and only good for the compost heap. Some end up looking like gargoyles in Adderley Street, partly chewed off by father time. My beetroots are totally spoilt with the finest homemade compost with loads of dried comfrey leaves and its juice.
Instant ejaculation one gardener told me, which explains the speed at which they grow. This keeps everyone happy. Unfortunately lettuce, with their hyperactive genes are fast growers. Whereas the garlic takes practically the whole year to mature into a multi-breasted bosomy vegetable — I have to constantly find garlic new friends and unfortunately other Allium family relations are not allowed, it affects their growth — Pigmy garlic is a pain to peel.
When the beetroot finally arrives into this world, they are juicy, heart-shaped, chamonix rouge, reminiscent of a Dita Von Teese pouting red lips. Of course when I let them wallow in the fertile soil and mud for a while longer, which they love, they end up aglow, like voluptuous ladies, incandescent, with the vitality of youth. My secretary was right, I better go and see how the beets are doing. I peaked through the partially open shutter front doors and slipped through, quietly telling him to shoo.
What a pleasant surprise. I was welcomed by a thick shroud of mist hovering over the lake, a meter up like a floating vestal virgin in a steaming Roman bath, which rose halfway up the valley and across to the Hottentot Holland mountains in the west. The mist moved continually, helped by the warmth of the rising dawn. Just below the sparkling mist, an African Spoonbill was shovelling green algae up its beak in a swaying, side to side movement. Every few seconds the bird would lift its head up to see if there were any predators about.
Its darting eyes quickly surveyed the landscape. But inevitably the fragrant green goo was too intoxicating, too delicious and it went back to gobbling the green algae. I stood still on the verandah, frozen as a limestone stalagmite, desperate to vanish into the plaster pillar — to slip invisibly amongst the water reeds and arums lilies, and like a tadpole, then peek above the waterline.
He looked uncertain as to what creature I was. I looked back wanting to kick myself. Of course any sudden movement would frighten him away.
But then being reasonably intelligent, I would wait for the bird to shove his beak in the green slime. Food is a very good distraction when it enters the head. From the corner of my eye, a pair of Reed Cormorants were swimming merrily together like happy lovers out for a jaunt, paddle-boating, totally engrossed in each other. Conversation for the two lovebirds was an incessant chatter, totally oblivious of other life. I wondered what they were saying? No humans about and that wretched dog the human calls Tyson. Pity about the invasion of our privacy from that greedy African Spoonbill.
I think I want to make some babies. The cormorants babble distracted the African Spoonbill momentarily. Behind the closed front doors, Tyson started to tjank full-tilt — he could smell birdies and lots of them. The Spoonbill swung his head back in my direction. I stood cast in stone. The bird was looking at me, full frontal, wondering where the doggy noises where coming from, cocking his head continuously, questioningly with his beady eyes? Just then an alabaster Great White Egret flew in from the west and low into the mist, immediately caught by the fragmented effulgent light above the lake.
The gentle beating of its wings — similar to a butterfly swimmer in slow motion, scooping up the air with its long feathers — it slowly glided in. The Spoonbill swung his head towards the incoming forager.
DO OLD MEN DREAM OF BEETROOT? | Tangleberry Diaries
Realising he now had to share his breakfast, he immediately stuck his beak into the green algae, gobbling voraciously and as quickly as he could. The Great White Egret glided through the mist in slow motion like a fairy in a diaphanous white dress. She landed feet first a few meters from the African Spoonbill. Was I about to witness a bloodbath? Gladly it was not to be. Oliver the farmhand arrived, and I was caught practically naked with only my boxer shorts on.
I can certify that animals and humans are just as attracted to the aroma of the same food, be it in its raw form or cooked. One of the reasons we built 1-meter high x 2-meter wide planters in front of the cottage was to discourage wild animals or even domestically wandering types in the countryside to come and forage for themselves. However this voracious animal with a bottomless pit for food, who likes to feed constantly, unleashing deep guttural grunts and eliminate incessantly with equal enthusiasm, this is a minor challenge.
The porcupines soon discovered they had access from the verandah, just the obstacle of a few steps to deal with. So I made the decision to plant more beetroot than we needed and with hope resting on my heart, I prayed that each little red orb would have different growth patterns, they are after all organic providing us with beetroots over the months to come. However the distraction of the steps, I soon realised, was enough.
Aided by the beguilements of the surrounding countryside with its multitudes of tubers, barks and branches was enough to divert the attention for these insatiable eating animals, with the exception of the odd die-hard forager, our beetroot crop was fairly intact. I quickly went about the business of plucking the beetroot from the rick, dark soil.
At a glance I only saw a few displaying their fleshy curves.
Windswept Sky (Dream World area)
But ten minutes later, I discovered forty to fifty that were prime ready for the pot. In a moment of panic I sent messages of help to every lover of food I knew. The response was overwhelming. Beetroot Tarte tatin. Beetroot and ginger brownies. Beef and beetroot potjie. Beetroot risotto a la Ricardo from his son Byron. Salmon and beetroot tartare. Beetroot Keftedes.
Beetroot hummus, and so it continued for the rest of the day.
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An older friend whose still passionate about life especially the women in his life has a daily diet which consists of at least one heart-shaped beetroot orb, prepared in variety of ways, every day. He argues with its high amounts of boron, is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.
The Romans would agree with him.
The Lupanare, the brothel of Pompeii had its walls decorated in beetroots. However I could never quite work out whether the beetroot was symbolic or whether the sight of it caused excitement in their loins? Whichever way it was, my conclusion was to create a menu with starters, main and desert throughout the day that all had one thing in common — beetroot.
I could see glasses of beetroot, mixed with orange and grapefruit juice. Soup bowls of beetroot gazpacho. Plates of salmon and beetroot tartare. Beetroot tzatziki and hummus. Beetroot ice-cream. Was I really going to take up this challenge, I asked myself? My secretary in my left brain chirped in, advising me against it. Excited by the thought of a day-long pleasurable experience that may run on for even more days, I started the washing down process. Firstly under the garden tap that fed a flourishing forest of happy English mint.
Living on a farm with a septic tank has its penalties — no funnies to be washed down the sink. Once the mud has been rinsed, the beetroot is now ready for its second cleansing under the taps in the kitchen lab sinks. It was a quiet day. You could hardly hear the flutter of a Cape Wagtail or the fart the Egyptian Mongoose whose daily scampering past the kitchen windows drove Tyson dilly. It was a solitude to be enjoyed once the rinsing of the beetroots were done — peace. Then I heard the beating of large wings.
Through the open kitchen window and barely two meters away flew a young Eagle Owl with a wing span of just over half-a-meter. In almost slow motion I watched the bird land a few meters away on the dirt road.
Daily Dream Home: Windswept
On the one turn of its head he caught sight of me. Mesmerised we both stared at each other. Then a distraction,. The Eagle Owl swiftly cocked its head back at Tyson. It held its ground and started staring at this possible predator. But would I be too late as I fumbled with camera and lenses? Terror sharpens the senses of smaller animals. Their wits are keener. I watched as Tyson, finally bored with barking, charged. The Eagle Owl took flight, passing low over the startled dog and landed ten meters or so away on farm the dirt road.
The owl turned and looked at Tyson with its owl round unblinking, eyes. Confused, Tyson did a sharp u-turn like a disorganised show horse and stopped in his tracks. He watched the owl staring back at him with furrowed eyebrows that twitched up and down with bewilderment. Gobsmacked Tyson was at a loss for woofs.
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