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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wednesday, 1 October: Oktober, mooiste maand/ October, loveliest of months

Welcome to October, loveliest month of all! An early jakaranda stands in its splendour on Waterkloof Ridge; in Brooklyn below, a mauve mist covers the topmost branches of the stately avenues.

South African poet, playwright, novelist, journalist, chef, botanist and medical doctor, Louis Leipoldt (1880-1947) famously hailed October in his poem: Oktobermaand. Here's my very free translation of two verses from the Afrikaans.

Month of October! Loveliest, loveliest month of all!
The day so clear, so green at twilight,
The sky above, so blue and cloudless,
As vivid as a flower-garden, the ancient grey Karoo,
As vivid as a flower-garden, the ancient grey Karoo.

It's the month of October!
Seems folk here celebrate forever
in a month as heavenly as October!
Who can wish for more than flowers, as bright as day and night?
Who expects better, lovelier, glorious?
Who expects better, lovelier, glorious?
What care I for winter?
Why talk now of May?
What does it matter if dark days re-appear?
I'm now in October, loveliest, loveliest month of all
Each day so clear, so splendid every evening!

In 1902 Louis Leipoldt left Cape Town at 21 years to study for a doctor at Guy's Hospital, London. After qualifying with gold medals in surgery and medicine, he headed across the Atlantic to spend an interlude as medical adviser to Joseph Pulitzer after whom the literary prize is named. He travelled widely in Europe and the East, worked as medical inspector in London and returned to South Africa in 1914. His wide-ranging intellect and presence made a invaluable contribution to South African cultural life. Leipoldt is also well-know for his cooking and his documentation of the earliest and most traditional Cape recipes. Here is his recipe for a 'good curry sauce':

Pound separately in your mortar (which you should wipe out after each pounding with a little coconut milk) green ginger, fennel seed, aniseed, allspice, coriander seed, cardamon seed, a peach kernel and three blanched almonds, green and red chillies, mace, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves and fresh lemon peel. Cut up finely an onion and few cloves of garlic, with some thyme, basil, celery, sage and rosemary; and braise them in a little sheep's fat. When brown, add a few cumin seeds. Take all you have pounded and mix it with powdered tumeric, till it has a fine yellow colour; moisten with tamarind water and stir it into the braised onion and garlic; add more tamarind water to make a thick sauce. This you can use for making any curry, by frying your meat in it. If you think it burns the tongue too much , you may mellow it by adding sugar or by reducing the amount of chillies.'

I decided to skip Leipoldt's recipes for braised tortoise, leguan, lion meat and fried locusts, among others!

PS October 1 is also the grand Willow Manor Ball. I have decided to eschew my first choice of escourt - Mr Edward Ferris of 'Sense & Sensibility'. Although not a great lady's man, I am sure The Right Honourable Louis Leipoldt would have accompanied a countrywoman to do the long-arm foxtrot at such an auspicious Bloglandia occasion. So here we are, dear Willow. I am in a long beaded gown of turquoise shantung, which does such wonders for my complexion in the candlelight on a warm October evening. Much obliged!


Rowyn said...

I recently found your lovely blog. That Jacaranda tree is beautiful! I am in New Zealand, and there is one near me which is just starting to show a wee peep of purple. They certainly are lovely trees.

S said...

I don't like the Jacarandas much because they cause my nose to itch. Nevertheless, the vibrant colours are wonderful to admire.

pammiejo said...

Beautiful Jacaranda! I would love to be starting over with Spring now instead of headed into Winter. I enjoy your stories so much even though I don't comment all the time - I'm reading! PAM

Carrie said...

I've enjoyed this post very much...I learned more about the seasons in South Africa, about one of your poets and a recipe too!

Nola said...

I can see the turquoise beads shimmer as you do the foxtrot! Dance, Eleanor, Dance!
October is, indeed lovely. I've never seen such a beautiful tree. In fact, I've never even heard of that tree before. I learn new things each day.

Muriel said...

Beautiful poem Eleanor, I post it on my blog with a link!!!

Hope you enjoyed the ball!!

x x

Sharon said...

A beautiful poem to pair with the equally beautiful jacaranda.

Unknown said...

How delightful! It's so lovely to come and visit the other side of the globe and enjoy your spring as I enjoy my autumn! I think your escort is dearly handsome too!

Lavinia said...

Lion meat? No thanks....poor Leo!

Another jacaranda lovely......