Saturday, December 10, 2016


It is with great pleasure that I introduce Maretha Botha, my guest author for this week. She is an active member of RRBC, a retired librarian, and a lover of books.
Enjoy her story about apple trees and her journey as an author.

                                              Apple Trees

     I always wanted to plant an apple tree, something by which my children would remember me, but we lived in Gauteng – South Africa’s smallest province situated approximately 6,000 feet (1,753 metres) above sea level. There, so-called black frost would quickly destroy delicate blossoms during dry frosty winters in July and August. So, planting an apple tree remained at the bottom of my bucket list for years, but things changed when we immigrated to the United Kingdom three years ago.  We lived in a small, damp one-bedroom apartment for almost two years before moving to a house with a large overgrown garden.  There, I found two tall apple trees far at the back of the garden! They struggled, competing for sunlight with a privet "hedge" which had grown to gigantic proportions all around them. As soon as we were settled, I tackled the garden with renewed zeal, especially when I saw that the apple trees were covered in the most delicate, fragrant blossoms! Suddenly, I had to rewrite an item on my bucket list: Rescue the apple trees . . .

     After carefully removing a few dead branches, and regularly brushing the Wooly Aphids' frothy wax off their gnarled branches as far as I could reach, the apple trees received their first TLC for many years.  Even though I didn't like it much, I dug in decomposed vegetable peels near their roots. The results were promising as you can see from these photos.  Despite a few marks left by Codling Moths, the trees rewarded us with organic apples, this season.

     Sometimes I like to sit under the apple trees, contemplating life's complexities. Yesterday, the last apple high up in one of the apple trees fell to the ground when a Blackbird pecked at it.  I suddenly had a, what-a-lovely-Sunday-lunch-and-I-ate-too-much feeling of satisfaction, thinking about my marriage, our children and now, grandchildren, who perpetuate the circle of life – almost as if they were apple trees planted next to streams of water, providing fruitage for the next generation. Of course, a little contemplation often leads to more contemplation and I thought, Writers are like arborists who plant a new apple tree and nurture it for years to come, every time they begin a book and successfully complete something which is appreciated, read and reread by many.

     Caring for apple trees can be hard work – just like writers and/or illustrators who work endlessly without seeing immediate results.  However, they never give up, because they know that if they do their planting, watering and pruning right, they and generations coming after them, will enjoy the fruits of their labour.  However, you might be surprised to know that I only recently became such an arborist.

      After my post as a librarian at a private school in Gaborone, Botswana was localised, I felt as if my life had changed forever. My daughters were both married, the grandchildren were no longer babies and I no longer had my wonderful job. After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I began pulling out all my notes on animals and birds which I've kept for years. I also added more. Unknowingly I began cultivating the soil for apple trees to be planted. My apple tree project suddenly gained momentum when I discovered a painting which my younger daughter did years ago, as part of an art project. The red-roofed farmhouse became the homestead of the free-range cattle farm in a place which I called, Molodi (a derivation of The Mmokolodi Game Reserve) and before I knew it, FAUNA Park Tales came into being.

      So, I would like to present some of my apple tree products to you:  A gluten-free apple crumble and glimpses of Fauna Park Tales – the Series. 

     You have already seen the first three books, but here is the cover for book four, “An African Adventure: Trails and Trials”. 

     It is now in its final stages of formatting and proofreading. Just to add a bit more.  I’ve had the cover for book five done as well, as I would like to include all five books in a book trailer, which I hope 4WillsPublishing will do as soon as I’ve saved enough for this project!  Speaking of a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, I’m sure many of you share my sentiments about our awesome club. We are just like devoted arborists who share and meet, supporting one another, and sharing the ups and downs which come with the job – planting and nurturing lovely “apple trees”.

Maretha Botha is a South African Italian, born in a small town called Montagu. She grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among snow-capped mountains. Worcester had a small library. Young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week, because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.” 

Nothing much has changed, because she's still a confirmed bookworm who constantly strives to raise more bookworms who enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up.  She admits to being a chocoholic and unreformed coffee addict, a keen gardener and bird watcher, who likes to walk on the moors where the stiff breeze coming in from the sea, quickly clears her head, making way for more inspiration.


  1. Lovely to learn about Maretha and her books...and that pie looks yummy. :)

  2. Thanks for popping in, Debby! It had a few firsts attached- first homegrown apples and first time ever baking gluten-free for my eldest daughter who is gluten intolerant.