A communal work in progress

2008-01-14 00:00

My husband and I recently started a new venture. We’d been contemplating it for some time, but it was invariably put on the backburner for reasons such as the Rugby World Cup. It was to be an unambitious duck pond to realise my romantic image of little yellow-beaked feathered creatures waddling around and nose-diving into the pond. But Justin arrived with his Monty Python brain and suggested “something completely different”. The result was something along the lines of a Hollywood extravaganza with a series of pools and miniature waterfalls connected by pebble-bedded streams.

Ant had the arduous task of designing the layout, followed by digging and laying out the plastic sheeting base. The next step was to amass a vast quantity of local rocks. This task proved to be something along the lines of building a soccer stadium for 2010. His initial idea was a co-operative support system, which resulted in him sending out a text message to all and sundry that said: “Come to a rock party. Beers provided.” Friends and family pitched en masse for the presumed rock concert, drank the beers and omitted to bring any rocks with them. Outcome: empty fridge and no closer to the 2010 deadline.

Plan B became operational — to collect rocks from neighbouring places. But when in search of any suitable rocks, they’d inconveniently vanished into the ether. With Plan B aborted, Plan C kicked in; a series of trips up Swartkop Mountain. The rock-gathering expedition was led by Ant and Senzo. It reached alarming proportions with many locals volunteering to assist, probably more out of curiosity than anything else — this mlungu rock-gatherer with rocks in his head. Many rocks later the mission was accomplished.

The subsequent stage of Mission Water Feature was the rock-dumping stage, which required the massive rocks having to be rolled out from the back of the bakkie, each one thundering down the garden slope, creating moon craters in its path.

Ant next positioned each rock as aesthetically as a rock can be positioned. This became an architectural feat along the lines of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” masterpiece and also means that he’s overdue for a visit to the chiropractor.

My grandchildren and I did the garden part, but first they whooped down the watery plastic gully way, using it as a slip- and-slide. Dylan, aged four, then proceeded to decapitate the local centipede population with his trowel, while Emma, six, started a snail colony for orphaned snails, carefully stationing them on some nasturtium leaves with their own dew- drop water supply. Gabi, six, made a sign that read “THis gardn mad by us” while seven- year-old Toni religiously planted mando grass in a disciplined row. At this point, the rains came down in a continuous deluge, halting all operations and leaving a torrent of red muddy sludge. Peering out the window, Emma anxiously inquired: “Will this rocky river still be here one day when we are all dead?”

Mission Water Feature is now at the family summit meeting phase. Topic: how to balance the eco-system. The first thought was gold fish, but then our landscape advisor said they’d eat the water lilies.

Dylan suggested giant tiger fishes “that can fly out the water and gobble up all the birds”. Paul suggested koi fish, but at two grand a fish, I’m on the dubious side.

With “quackers” being small enough prey for the eagle population, Kate then suggested geese. But as they mate in water, Ant raised the concern that in a moment of passion, they could inadvertently tear the plastic lining of the pond.

I’m following the fish, poultry and livestock columns of the newspaper daily, but today’s only advert was for a pure bred Nguni bull. Anyway, 2010 is still some way off and having got this far, we categorically aren’t planning on strike action.

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