“Now, I must tell you – I hate Mondays,” Precilla does her nails while she waits for Boggel to open. “Always the same. After a weekend I feel like we should be doing something nice of a Monday – but here I am, putting Cutex on my nails in the winter sun – how exciting!”
Vetfaan leans against the pillar while he inspects Voortrekker Weg. “I know the feeling. Saturday party. Sunday sermon and party. Monday…nothing. We should do something.”
“It’s our own fault.” Servaas knocks out his pipe against his boot. “Other towns have agricultural shows, book clubs and festivals. We just sit around in Boggel’s. We can only blame ourselves.”
Kleinpiet doesn’t like the idea of a book club: that’ll mean he’ll have to start reading the stuff Gertruida is always going on about. As for agriculture…well, they have sheep. And a few chickens. And Vrede, of course. Not much to show, really.
“Did you know the quiver tree is migrating South? It says here that the climate change is forcing these trees to more moderate climates.” Gertruida shows them the pictures in National Geographic. “They are moving from Namibia to the Kalahari and Richtersveld. It’s getting too warm up there.” She’s been reading while the others bemoaned the lack of activity in the town.
“So, pretty soon they’ll come marching down Voortrekker Weg, on their way to Grootdrink? Wow. We can sell tickets for the occasion; people will come from Kenhardt and Prieska – even Vosburg – to see something like that. Imagine a bunch of trees migrating…”
“Oh, shut up, Kleinpiet! Trees don’t walk, you silly ass.” Gertruida isn’t sure whether he’s serious, but still… “The trees spread through seeds being blown about, and bird droppings. The growing ones remain where they are. What is happening is that new quiver trees don’t grow in the old places – they survive where the climate suits them best; and that is more and more towards the south.”
“Okay, that means that in a few years time, Cape Town will be overgrown with quiver trees…”
“I told you to shut up, Kleinpiet. If you’re really wondering about all this, you should read the article.”
Vetfaan snaps his fingers. “People don’t know about these travelling trees, Gertruida. Maybe we can tell the folks in Upington and Windhoek about this. I mean, if Namibian quivers are going to cross the border, there’ll be all kinds of diplomatic repercussions. What about customs and immigration? Passports? And there is a law against importing plants from neighbouring countries – how is Zuma going to handle that? No, if we tell the world about the quivers sneaking out of Namibia, then maybe the guys up north will do something about their climate.”
“You now, Vetfaan, only an idiot can think like that. Climate change isn’t only a Namibian problem – it involves the rest of the world as well. It’s the factories and power stations; the chopping down of forests and the overpopulation that does it. In the end, places like Namibia and Rolbos are the victims, not the cause.”
“Okay. So we’ll have a stampede of quivers, and we can do nothing about it? What about xenophobia? Won’t the thorn trees object? And what about the peach trees in Kakamas – they won’t like quivers popping up between them.” Kleinpiet draws a storming herd of quivers in the dust next to the veranda. “We’ll have to do something.”
“I know!” Precilla blows on the nail varnish, inspects her hands, and nods to herself. “Nothing grows on Bokkop, anyway. We can establish a Quiver Sanctuary there. We’ll tell people to bring all the illegal migrant quivers here, and we’ll plant them. We’d be doing the rest of the country and the quivers a favour. Maybe we can even get a government subsidy. You know…we may even receive the Order of the Baobab from the president – if he’s not too busy firing police chiefs, that is.”
Gertruida does her hippo-snort. “I’ll leave you geniuses to sort this out. Here’s Boggel, let’s have a drink.”
The Upington Post publishes the letter Kleinpiet sent in.
Somehow, Die Burger picked up the story. In The Sunday Times, a certain Mrs Bezuidenhout commented on it. Eventually, the Official Opposition raised it in parliament, where a committee was established to look into the matter. The minutes of their meeting were kept by Suzy Witbooi, and entered into the archives.
“I really hate Mondays”
“You know, Precilla, nobody ever even contacted me about that letter. I think it’s because they know nothing ever happens in Rolbos.” Kleinpiet has his Basset-face on this morning. “And I think nobody cares. At least we have Boggel’s Place.”
Servaas knocks out his pipe. “I looked everywhere for a quiver tree. Couldn’t find one.”
“Maybe they disguise themselves as acacias? Anyway, those guys in government won’t do anything. The first quiver I see will go straight back to Namibia, even if I have to pay Kalahari Vervoer to do it.”
When Gertruida joins them, the patrons in Boggel’s Place are strangely quiet.
“And how are things at the Sanctuary?” She can be very sarcastic if she puts her mind to it.
“It’s closed on Mondays, Gertruida,” Kleinpiet bites back, “while Kleinpiet patrols the district for quivers.”
“Yes, he’s the lucky one,” Precilla smiles sadly, “it is his turn to do the rounds. At least he’s got something to do.”
And so, on a cold and windy winter-Monday, the people of Rolbos eagerly await Kleinpiet’s return. In this far-flung corner of South Africa, nothing much ever happens (like in parliament); but at least they’ll be the first to know if a quiver forest tries to tiptoe its way to Kakamas.
The ANC? The nest inspections never got off the ground, sadly. Kleinpiet said he won’t go poking about in pooh – there’s just too much of it around.