A COUNTRY DOCTOR
Like so many other professionals his age, Pete Reinders dreamt – for years – of moving to a small town, of opting out, of breathing out. It took some years (mostly waiting patiently for his kids to fly the coop) but in 2004 the dream finally became a reality and he moved to Prince Albert – a minute town in the semi-desert area of the Karoo in South Africa. Life in the fast-paced city is now firmly in his rear-view mirror. And he’s not turning around.
Pete Reinders, though, is not just any normal country doctor though. He’s my father. These photos are a result of a couple of years of proudly watching him (and my mother, his rock) adjust to a new, slower, life.
Moving there was never a retirement plan. It can be argued that he’s busier now than he ever was in his city practice. But it’s a different kind of busy. With no specialist doctors and life saving machinery close-by he’s kept on his toes. And while his small surgery is only 100 meters from his front door, you’ll more often that not see him driving his “ambulance” (his trusty old LandRover) to his patients homes. There’s no vet in town – so it’s not just humans who seek his care. There’s been a black eagle, a couple of sheep, a mongoose…
Stress release takes different forms in a small town. Pete has a farmyard directly behind his surgery and nips out, in between patients, to feed his every growing and haphazard flock or to water his beloved vegetables, all grown from seed. (He’s also known as Piet Pampoen in town for his king size pumpkins, and there’s often the odd stray Turkey wandering in his surgery waiting room) “It’s these small moments that allow you to breathe, allow you to live,” he says.
There is a happiness that oozes from him as he goes about his work and life. When I asked him to answer a few questions about these photos, he chatted so long my phone battery eventually died…
Regrets? “Not a single one…”