Friday, February 1, 2008

2008. Post Apartheid: Fraser Esslemont's 2001-2002 Sunnyside Farm Dispatches

< 2002. Fraser Esslemont & Zulu mates, Leisure Bay, Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal. "A happiness that often madness hits on."

02.07.01 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Please accept my humblest apologies for not writing sooner. For a long while, we have been snowed under with work on the farm. Only on 29.06.2001 did I feel myself and the rest of the gardening group were up to date. On 08.09.2001 you'll be 50. I've spoken to others who made 1/2 century & know its a great event. Congratulations & im sure you will make it a pleasant day for yourself & your family. It will be a Saturday & you could go for a drive to the Alps. The Underberg area is very cold and we are expecting snow in Sunnyside. Enjoy yourself & just know, Ill be especially thinking & wondering what Kiwis are getting up to on your 1/2 century birthday.

Let me know how you make your biltong. [Posted Fraser Leah's secret recipe. I make biltong during Canterbury's summery, dry, nor'wester weather]. Im keen to know your methods and ingredients & next time you send photos send me a few of your Alps. Mark, there seems to be very high peaks in your Alps. What is the highest? [Aoraki Mount Cook]. Can you ski? Like you did in Westerndorf, Austria. [Lost interest, too cold]. At the moment Im wondering what other type of farm work to do. But I never seem to get bored here with gardening. I guess its a matter of wait and see.

You wrote that your children are keen on music. Does Luke keep up with his piano lessons? [Later changed to tympani]. Both boys seem culturally inclined with arts and crafts. It must be Christchurch's influence. You and Leah must be proud of both of them. Let me have a copy of your book please. [Voila le blog. It will take a while to get Maritzburg Mental Health to allow Fraser to read this blog as they say Fraser has no access to computers]. I only read magazines here on the farm.

Perhaps Im a little backward, not only with books. Also socially. I think town people slightly mad, living in town. This seems to be a warning to farmers - Not to get backward. Esme Wolhuter spoke of this at Elandspruit, [New Hanover] when our family holidayed there.

We will meet again in 2010. Perhaps I'll go to Australia by ship. Then New Zealand. I've got quite a few plans after 2008. Seychelles & Comores Islands also in my plans."

24.03.02 Fraser's Sunnyside Farm dispatch: "Howzit!! Im interested how you compost weeds. Let me know please. [Told him my compost bossing]. I have a very big weed problem at the moment. I'd very much appreciate it if you'd give me as much information on making biltong as possible. This craft writing sounds interesting. [Boring]. I dont know enough about it. Let me know how you go about it. Would a photo help explain? I can see by your last lot of photos you and your family have settled down well in NZ. Congratulations. Im looking forward to visiting you in 2010.

Thank Luke for me for the key-ring. Its very useful on this farm. For Jake to be 16 in matric is very good. He is doing very nicely in NZ. Your school system is very different to South Africans. I wish both your sons well for the 21st century. You and Leah must be proud of both boys. All the best to you and Leah for 2002.

Please explain the system of e-mail. SA has it also. Im pretty much in the dark about a lot of new things. Pc & discs, I would not know how to use. I'm very much behind on the way things operate nowadays. [An indictment of 'rehabilitation'].

< 2002. Fraser Esslemont & mates, Leisure Bay, Port Edward, KZN. "Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason and draw you into madness."

Things at Sunnyside are very pleasing indeed. Recently we returned from a 5 day holiday at Leisure Bay near Port Edward. [Fraser had fished a lot at Port Edward before his Verulam road accident]. Swimming rejuvenated me. After gardening. It was just what the doctor ordered for another year on the farm 2002 to 2003. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write some more. This letter has to go with some photos that are being sent to you on 25.03.2002.

Au revoir

Fraser Esslemont

P.S. I will be coming, by ship, to NZ in 2010."

I received the above optimistic letter five months later. I wondered whose out-tray was clogged? The photos showed Fraser looking happy, accompanied by nine smiley, patient faces, including two women and three Zulu men. Fraser had trekked a long way since being a brain damaged, comatose patient fifteen years before in Durban.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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