A Refuge

A gentle breeze trails its cool fingers over my face, turtledoves pour the coo-cooing of their lovemaking into my ears and the sweet smell of orange blossoms fills my nose. I open my eyes slowly and look deeply into the green canopy above me. I sit up slowly, eyes drawn to the deep, green waters of the slowly flowing river before me. A fish breaks the surface and I watch the ever widening ripples that it leaves behind as it splashes back into the cool, green depths. A little distance away the sun spills its rays over the smooth surfaces of the black river rocks, but I turn my eyes away quickly, for the arrows of reflected light from the fierce, hot sun, hurts them, even here where I sit in my green cavern under the overhanging branches of the willow tree. As I just sit there and enjoy being, I experience a feeling of contentment... a feeling of serenity... a feeling of utter peace, coming over me. A most wonderful place to be.....

Whenever I feel the world and its demands and pressures closing in on me, when the world threatens to crush my very soul, this is the place I escape to. No matter where I am, who I am with, or whatever situation I find myself in, whenever I need peace, the kind that passes all understanding, this is the place I go to find rest and "recharge my spirit". I often imagine that I can hear the footsteps of God passing by and that I can feel his hand gently touching me, restoring my inner peace and joy.

We would take a picnic lunch and spend the day on the green, grassy banks under the huge, age-old trees that follow the river as it snakes its way through the dry and stony landscape of the Northern Cape. How well I remember the cold chicken, potato salad, noodle salad, fruit and inevitable watermelon - it usually ended up with the bigger kids smearing us smaller kids with watermelon skins and then the fathers would smear the bigger kids, and so on, and on, until we all had to dive into the river to wash the sticky sweetness from our skins and clothes.

My father's fishing spot was along a very deep part of the river where we were not allowed to swim as the stream flowed to strongly and we would disturb the fish with our noise. Only a few hundred meters downstream, the river widens as it flows over a series of rock banks forming deep pools for swimming and the most wonderful places for hunting all kinds of frogs, crabs and other water creatures in the shallows. A place of pure magic for an inquisitive and adventurous child!

When we were tired, and shivering from spending to much time in the water, we would splash water over the smooth black river rocks to cool them off a bit and then stretch out on them, allowing the sun to dry us off. With the sun beating down on us from above, and the rocks warming us from beneath, we would lie silently, listening to the sounds of the river. Turtledoves in the trees, the soft murmuring of the water over rocks and the occasional call of the Fish Eagles.

A memory and place of bliss...to be carried with into maturity as a refuge from the sometimes cruel realities of adulthood... and stalking old age.


Jo said...

Omigosh, that is soooooo beautiful. And believe it or not, I have a memory of a place exactly like that on Vancouver Island, called the Sroat River and it flowed into the Somass River. We used to go there on a summer's day, to a place called Riveroad Park, and it looks exactly like your pictures. Here is a picture of it.

My mother loved South Africa so much, and as a child growing up, I used to hear so many wonderful stories about the beautiful places in South Africa. Her heart was always there.

A human kind of human said...

Thanks Jo, do you also escape to it sometimes - in your mind/imagination/spirit?

Argent said...

I am soo there! Your writing is lovely! I haven't got such spectacularly lovely images to go back to, so I may have to steal the ones from this blog :-)

A human kind of human said...

You're welcome!

jfrancis said...

The wind
is a wicked force,
pollen's best friend,
not given to favors
or piety
or warmth and tenderness,
always the worker
never the lover
on cold winter nights.

jfrancis said...

The shallows of peace
and strife stalk us
along the river 'life'___
paying close attention
to the turtledoves
of our need.

willow said...

Oh, I want to run off and sit under your peaceful willow!! What a glorious cove of calm.

I would be glad to send you some interview questions! Please send me your email address. willow.willowmanor@gmail.com

Smoke said...

I suspect I know were the love words, read or writen cames from in the family. Im just sad that I never asked to hear these stories.

Arley said...

What a wonderful memory! I so wish I could have had such a place and memory in my childhood. You are very lucky to have that beautiful memory, charish it forever!

jfrancis said...

Where have you gone South Africa?

A human kind of human said...

Thanks to all you loveley people. South Africa is back now, thanks for missing me - you make me feel wanted.