Friday, December 11, 2009

A Tale of Three Cakes

My birthday falls the day before my daughters'. Pretty bad planning really, as it is normally spent getting everything sorted for her. But this year was different. Everything is different in the Langkloof.

I had a full house. A family of seven arrived for a week, and the walls of our house stretched to accomodate them all. Thoughtfully they brought their bread machine, and their popcorn machine(!) and we generally all mucked in and produced meals three times a day. But when my birthday arrived, I was not allowed into the kitchen.

My husband believes in birthdays, and on them being a day off, if possible, for the birthday girl/boy. So, no kitchen duties for me. I was ordered out, to sit under the Syringa tree to await breakfast. It duly arrived and was delicious. By the time Lex was done his was stone cold (its quite something to cook for 9 big ones and a couple of littlies.)

After breakfast the first cake arrived. Our neighbour up the gravel road made it. She lives with her very old, invalid mother, in a house filled with the aroma of potpourri. She spends a few months every year in England, and for the rest brings England to the Langkloof for us all to enjoy. Hers is a land of thin china and crystal. A world of ironed and starched linen and lace, patchwork and tapestry. We all love the teas she hosts, delicate plates of frothy lemon meringue served with little silver folks, washed down with tea. Not surprising then that the first cake of the day arrived under a glass dome, a carrot cake, with lemon icing poured over and with a single pink rose as decoration in the centre.

The second cake of the day arrived while I was out in town. We have a friend who has a history of restaurants and coffee shops. Her cakes were known far and wide and she has blessed me with a cake before. Years ago it was she who baked the moist, chokkablok carrot cake, decorated with sprigs of lavender that was our wedding cake in Greyton.
This cake, however, was altogether different. A chocolate cake, sculpted in the form of a rose, with a thick chocolate sauce poured over and running down. Decoration was sprigs of mint leaves and delicate purple flowers dancing around the rim. Stunning!

I decided that these cakes could not be eaten in my cobwebbed, sagging ceiling kitchen, but only outside someplace, under the (cloudy) big sky.
Of cause the Kouga. I love the Kouga - so named for the range of slanting mountains it is in, the long gravel road that takes you through them. A place we venture into often, keeping on, down the slightly hair raising pass, down, down, to the river.

Georgia also loves the Kouga, especially the river. We pull off the road at the bridge, ignore the private property signs (how can a river really belong...) and often, with a group, find the bend, the cliffs soaring up and from a high point, the young at heart, jump shrieking into icy depths.

But not today. Today, my birthday, we paddle at the bridge. Our friends are nervous city folk, but Jethro takes off up the steep mountains that cradle us and before long is just a high speck. I shout and order him down from a cliffs edge - because it is my birthday - and I want to relax.

Relax and eat cake. We all have a slice of each, carrot and chocolate and have to lick our fingers because I have brought no forks or spoons to eat with. And then we drive home.

Lex has planned a fire, and rolls of boerewors lie coiled in wait, when the third cake arrives. It arrives singing, with the seven children family, on the back of a bakkie, bumping over our grass. Hair streaming, smiles (laughter), they unload, guitar to the fore, and the cake emmerges from inside the cab. The wind has picked up and the cake is chocolate and covered entirely in pink rose petals. It is handed to me and we rush to protect it, petals are flying, being lifted up in the wind as I rush inside.

So, my house is full, full, full, as I am given presents. The cake is cut and nothing remains, everyone has a slice. We chat and laugh and they all leave again - the wind has whipped up the fire outside.

While I later await my wors roll I gather my gifts and cards. Cards, here in the Langkloof are handmade, often collaged with hand written poetry, bible verses or heartfelt messages. All is beautiful. All is abundance, lightness and joy.

I sleep soundly. Georgias day is already planned for tomorrow, and I am not worried. It is a day filled with promises of picnics in orchards, and burgers at restaurants, all circled round with friends.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday to you Michelle, what a wonderful way to spend it, with family and friends. Those cake sound wonderful!