Comings and Goings

Coming back in July saw some big changes to my life in South Africa.

Just another day watering the yard in his bee suit
First is that my coworker, housemate and best friend of the past year and a half finished his time in SA. Brandon Lingbeek was a tall skinny Michigan-dutch kid who had a penchant for birds--dead or alive--and who might fall asleep as soon as you get him to start talking. We shared the best and worst of times. The best was that we were always at whatever braai was going on, whether it was with researchers from Texas A&M, or grad students from Uni. of the Free State, or reprobate PhD candidates from Penn State Uni. (so much trouble), Brandon and I were there to share in grilled meat (or veggie sausages) and pints of Castle Milk Stout--the building block of South African civilization.

Brandon, Lani and Alex (Office and Farm Managers)

We definitely had some fast, awesome weekend trips like to the national capital of Pretoria, or the wild Pilanesberg game park, or an Easter traverse of Lesotho, but the most enduring memories are of making pizza once a week together, and watching endless series over supper, like all six seasons of Mad Men to date. There was also the occasional torrented movie, but we're in the bush and the nearest movie theatre is 2.5 hours away, okay! His curries, Risk skills, and surprising late-night whit will be dearly missed, but not his crush on all Tom DeLonge's musical endeavors.

Rip tending to a dazed shrike
Before he left, his replacement Rip Winkel, arrived to continuing taming our sandy soils. From Colorado and just about every other state south of there, he is former Peace Corps in Ecuador, which means accomplishing something will be a change of pace for him. But already he has managed to refill supplies, renovate our greenhouse, and get the workers on a schedule. With experience and education in landscape architecture, horticulture, and agriculture, he is already informally an extension agent to friends at church who want to know how to improve their orchard's health. What they end up getting is also a lesson in latin as he names every plant in their garden. I look forward to our time together.

Then come November my own replacement will be here and I'll be heading down that dusty road myself.

Memories ahead and memories at bay, until neuro-fibular tangles get in the way.


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