Gar­den diary

Why do we gar­den against na­ture?

go! Platteland - - CONTENTS -

Out­side, the rain is fall­ing softly and Harburg, de­serted in the folds of the sugar-cane fields, seems misty and mag­i­cal.

The end of an era

A half-hour drive from New Hanover – turn onto the R614 to Ton­gaat and then right at the Illovo sugar fac­tory – you will find the ham­let of Harburg si­t­u­ated on a pretty lit­tle rise. The sugar-cane fields form creases in the land­scape around this town. There are a few quiet houses with closed cur­tains and a po­lice sta­tion that slum­bers just as qui­etly. The town also has a church. This is where Ed­win’s wife, Joy Hohls, is do­ing some of­fice work to­day.

“It’s just one of the things I do,” she says as she shows us around: the metic­u­lously tidy church, the hall where the brass band re­hearses (the chairs are still ar­ranged in a square), the neat gar­den, the small mu­seum where you can view any­thing from church fur­ni­ture and doc­u­ments to old school, post of­fice and house­hold items. “On Mon­days I also do the butch­ery’s ac­counts for Ed­win.”

It’s only her and the cleaner, Florence Zondi, hold­ing the fort here. The only signs of life we find in all of Harburg: two women from com­pletely dif­fer­ent back­grounds who grew up to­gether un­der to­tally dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances.

“Florence hasn’t had an easy life,” says Joy. “She started work­ing in the sug­ar­cane fields when she was only eight and was paid five cents a day. And me? I was the farmer’s daugh­ter who had ev­ery­thing my heart de­sired. To­day she sells Zulu Bi­bles, she’s a leader in her church, and al­though she left school at the age of eight, she can read and write. And she is rais­ing her grand­child, an or­phan. We couldn’t just sit back and watch her strug­gle, so we col­lected money to pay for the child’s school fees.”

Florence, who is 58 years old and cleaned the mu­seum un­til it sparkled in hon­our of Plat­te­land’s visit, is a cheer­ful woman who says very lit­tle.

“I live in the lo­ca­tion on the farm Twee­fontein, or that’s where my house is. I ac­tu­ally live here on the church prop­erty and only go home once a month to where my son and his wife, my sis­ter and my or­phaned grand­child live. I have been work­ing here for 11 years and, I promise you, I don’t feel lonely. I re­ally en­joy my job.”

But Florence and Joy’s future in the church is un­cer­tain, Joy later says, be­cause the Her­manns­burg synod of the Lutheran Church has de­cided to merge the three churches – those of Wartburg, New Hanover and Harburg –

into one church that will hold ser­vices in the Wartburg church. (This is the Lutheran church in Wartburg, known to lo­cals as the 12-volt church, and

not the Freie Kirche or 24-volt, which is com­pletely in­de­pen­dent.) We’d heard ear­lier in New Hanover of ma­jor griev­ances about the merg­ing of the churches be­cause now con­gre­gants will have to “go to church over there next to the taxi rank and bot­tle store”.

This means the Harburg church will only be used for wed­dings, chris­ten­ings and fu­ner­als. “Church and youth groups will still be able to use the Re­treat Cen­tre, which has a fan­tas­tic kitchen and of­fers overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion for up to 70 peo­ple.”

Joy seems sad. “This is a re­ally fan­tas­tic con­gre­ga­tion.”

Joy and Ed­win lived in Wartburg for a long time but re­cently bought them­selves a re­tire­ment place in How­ick, 48km from New Hanover, where they spend their week­ends. And al­though she’s a mem­ber of the church in How­ick, it’s here that her work is not yet com­plete.

Un­til such time as the merg­ing of the three con­gre­ga­tions is com­plete, ex­plains Joy, there is an in­terim com­mit­tee that con­sists of three mem­bers from each of the three con­gre­ga­tions. And once ev­ery­thing has been set­tled, the new con­gre­ga­tion in Wartburg will be known as the United Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran con­gre­ga­tion.

Out­side, the rain is fall­ing softly and Harburg, de­serted in the folds of the sugar-cane fields, seems misty and mag­i­cal. Soft, colour­ful. And dead quiet. As if there’s been a death in the fam­ily. >

WARTBURG Wel­come to the cap­i­tal The streets of Wartburg, si­t­u­ated more or less be­tween New Hanover and Harburg, are busy – par­tic­u­larly Noods­berg Road, where you’ll find the tree-en­cir­cled 12-volt church, the Spar and Brid­glee Cof­fee Shoppe. It’s late morn­ing and the rain is still com­ing down. Quite a few cus­tomers are tak­ing shel­ter in the cosy lit­tle cof­fee shop with a hot cup of cof­fee or a plate of break­fast. Lara-Lee Tracey not only op­er­ates the big espresso ma­chine but she and her fa­ther, Jimmy, also make a range of gifts that they sell in the shop. Her mother, Dot, is bustling around in the kitchen where she pre­pares menu orders as well as pre­serves and jam. Lara-Lee and her sis­ter, Brid­get, a lawyer in Lon­don, grew up in Wartburg. Lara-Lee and Jimmy opened the gift shop, Un­de­ni­ably You, 22 years ago. “I was never the aca­demic type – I stud­ied fash­ion de­sign at the Dur­ban Tech­nikon and at first made cot­ton py­ja­mas,” she says, “but these days I’ll make just about any­thing!”

The cof­fee shop – a com­bi­na­tion of the two sis­ters’ names – was opened six years ago as part of Dot’s re­tire­ment plan. “We thought we’d have just a few tables and only serve tea and cof­fee, but be­fore we could blink the cof­fee shop had taken over – the de­mand just grew and grew. Our cus­tomers are mostly lo­cals – or shall I say, reg­u­lars? – and there are quite a few sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives who drive through.”

CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT Florence Zondi and Joy Hohls both grew up in the area and hold the fort at Harburg’s church – Florence as cleaner and Joy as ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer. The merg­ing of New Hanover, Wartburg and Harburg’s churches means that only...

Wartburg’s “12 -volt church” where res­i­dents of Wartburg, Harburg and New Hanover will con­gre­gate in future. Op­po­site is the other church in the town, the in­de­pen­dent Freie Kirche (“free church”), known among the lo­cals as the “24 -volt church”....

RIGHT The three busy Traceys of Brid­glee Cof­fee Shoppe: Lara-Lee, Jimmy and Dot. ABOVE These pretty Easter bis­cuits were baked and dec­o­rated by Lara-Lee. INSET Some of Dot’s pre­serves.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.