Secondly, there are histories, relationships, she has bonded with that place. Roushanna routinely spends hours exploring the mountain and seeking to understand its flora, as her mother-in-law started doing in the 70s. It’s a mountain they nearly defended with their lives in the wild fires of the winter. She gave birth to her own daughter on the old quiet house’s sofa.
Her ties with the local community are strong and reciprocal, like an extended self-sufficiency. We saw a noisy litter of piglets, destined for the local restaurants whose scraps they collect in the first place to feed the sows. They had a vacant shed which they rent to a guy handmaking surfboards [Burnett Wood]. They use the shavings in the garden’s smoker Roushanna designed and constructed. Knackered surfboards make up a fence to one of the vegetable plots.
Thirdly, while she is intensely rooted, she is very free. She is as mobile as anyone, maybe more so, taking her skills and earning her livelihood in camps round the eastern cape, or in the big city an hour to the north. She has a confidence; she will not go hungry.
Her jobs on the land are manual, practical, faded boots moving day to day through the dry soils, fingers picking and planting. But Roushanna also trades something cerebral with that soil, it feels like empathy. Much of her time is spent reading the landscape to note changes, finding new ways to express its flavours, being curious, learning from it.
This place has furnished her with intellectual property, and knowing stuff gives you resilience; the detail is specific, but the approach is transferable. It’s looking after the ecosystem, enquiring of it, and then receiving confirmation that it’s an ecosystem that is capable of supporting you, with food, yes, but also with a fulfilling sense of your own identity. That’s the thing about her way of life that any of us might copy.