It is my hope that putting this voice out into our world has value, not only for me, but for others, as well. I admit to sometimes entertaining dreams of it going viral, of infecting the world with my vision. But most of the time I am content to be motivated by Gandhi's assertion: whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rim of Africa: Day 5

Day 5: Welbedacht to Bokkveldskloof

Photo: Galeo Saintz
Not long after we've left camp, but long enough for the water basin to no longer freeze over again once your hands are washed, we pass the pool near Driehoek. It is not an easy pool to simply walk past, as we discovered last year. I will not be the one to suggest it this time, but I am very happy when Linda does. A day that starts with a swim in a pool like this, can only become one of the very best of days.

Over the river we gather to marvel at a dung beetle. It doesn't so much as pause in its industriousness, does not for a moment hesitate to question the value of its work. At Eikeboom, something in the soil at my feet catches my eye. It is a coin, worn and thin - a 1942 South African tikkie, with a protea on the front. I wonder at how long it has lain buried there. I wonder at what brought it to the surface for me to find.

All of this feeds into the poem that comes to me as we walk silently up the track into Tierkloof,
past the unseen plaque to the young man who drowned in the stream, a foot jammed between boulders, his friends helpless around him and the river rising ever so slowly up and up, past the old stone leopard trap that gave the kloof its name from a time when our relationship with those graceful predators was different. The beautiful track with its dry-stone walls has the quality of a labyrinth about it, a journey of repeated arcs this way and then that. This way and then that we are carried, slowly and gently to a vantage point from where to look into our lives. The tikkie in my pocket and the invite that someone accompany us on this walk, reminds me of my mother. I know she would have loved this place.

I finish my poem as the kettle boils on the little cement bridge with the stream rushing below it through water plants of the most brilliant green. Morning tea. But it is only much later, near the end of the day, that I read it. For I have something else to share on this walk - a place, not a poem.

Photo: Galeo Saintz
I love the anticipation of leading people into this place, the boulders they must bow under, the darkness removed from the sun's glare, the quiet, their wondering, "Is this it?". And then the centre. The sacred coming together of rock and cedar. Just as it is.

The sun is already behind Sneeuberg, and Bokkveldskloof is in deep shadow by the time I close my day with another icy swim. Then in the darkness after supper, I am ready to read my morning's poem:

The paths that you walk into life will outlive you,
they are what the earth will remember you by,
they are your genes scattered like ashes
across the great landscapes
in memory of your brief passing,
your wild oats.

Be mindful of where you tread.

Others have walked them before you,
but it is you that turned the stone
that sent the small, tail-less creature scuttling for other cover.
It is your weight that gently bruised the buchu bush
and released it oily scent into the hot, still air.
It was a drop of cool, sweet water
from your scooped hand
that wet the stones at your feet.
Your winter morning breath
that whitened the air before you.

Be mindful of where you tread.

The paths that you walk into life will outlive you,
Others have walked them before you,
and still others will follow.

Be mindful of where you tread.

Make your passing like the bright sparks of protea seeds,
released into a fire blackened landscape,
alight with the certainty of the very first bird song,
to anticipate the dawn,
bequeath each step to the path behind you,
age, like the cedar
that deepens its perfume with time,
attune yourself, like the nightjar,
to the dark.

Be mindful of where you tread.

No comments:

Post a Comment