Good morning, happy fellow South Africans, I hailed some other walkers as I arrived at Radloff Park early on Monday, and perchance bumped into favourites, comprising husky, labrador (fresh from a dip in the rain-swollen Lourens River), and two stately Harlequin Great Danes (plus some two-legged companions), all communing under the shade of an elderly oak.
Jazz bounded to greet us, her nose finding Phoebe and I where her (absent) eyes couldn’t – and started her characteristic howling, iconic sled dog’s haunting vocals (“For the love of Jazz”, Bolander, October 2).
Phoebe responded in fine style… (“nothin’ but a hound dog, crying all the time…”), and we stood in our own little (largely female) scrum, basking in early Spring morning light, and lingering post-World Cup euphoria; and shared memories, dreams, and yes… reflections.
Honestly, I don’t know when last I had so much seratonin and endorphins flowing through my brain (and gut, where most of it is sourced).
On Saturday, when coincidentally meandering around the Blaauwklippen Market at the annual Kamers Makers festival, I was taking in the revelry of all those gathered this memorable day.
I didn’t need to focus in on one of the many screens to feel the amazing energy, and moved about on blessedly soft grass underfoot, observing where people were clustered about, viewing the unfolding drama of epic proportions (and what powerful humans).
Watching the game, on diminuitive cellphones, which people huddled around; to gigantic flat screens erected under the canopy of leaves, providing the perfect gathering spot for people adorned in Springbok attire.
Our nation’s vivid flag everywhere, symbolising such powerful, poignant history.
Fellow South Africans and visitors, reclining on bean bags, perched on paddock fences, ensconced in camping chairs, walking about in agitated anticipation, hugging one another, smiling, so much smiling – one for all and all for one, watching something unfold that was truly remarkable, truly magnificent, and truly unifying. About time.
Ear to the ground (literally reminiscent of Ms Basset), I listened to the happy cries and comments, from anguished “I can’t take it, the pressure, ‘my hart sal gaan staan!’” – to triumphant shouts of encouragement and enthusing chants and choruses; to little children buzzing about, oblivious perhaps to the actual source of such feverish excitement, but happy to tap in and be exhuberant, run and play and shout out, many decked out in green and gold attire or memoriabilia.
At the barnyard and old stables, the sturdy Shetland ponies (um… Faf?) and little tri-coloured goats were chilling, some enjoying the view from the climbing frame perch, to anther old long-horned chap, lying in a tractor tyre, with his head on the side-wall, to make sure he missed none of the action, and two kids (“bokkies”!) bumping up against their (surprisingly patient) mum’s udder for a midday snack. “Kitchen’s closed!” she huffed, as she walked off abruptly.
This bucolic scene was such a perfect backdrop, and having lived in a couple of different farm cottages higher up on the lovely Blaauwklippen Road, so many years ago, I felt like I was on home ground.
The Kamers festival was also in full swing, with an inspiring array of tents and stalls, offering visitors an opportunity to see the best quality handmade clothing, jewellery, ceramics, soaps and perfumes, leather shoes and bags, fabrics and so much more (I couldn’t resist a beautiful woven pillow-case of Ethiopian cloth).
I chatted to the young folk manning the Blaauwklippen bubbly stall, vying for their attention, as they intently watched, half-way through the game on a phone.
By the time we parted ways, we had spoken about sports, food, wine, parenting, politics, family, love, loss and healing, and appreciation for this dynamic country we are fortunate enough to call home and hearth.
I tracked down beloved friend Ingrid, working at a stall at the very bottom of the verdant field, and we caught up quickly, as one does, in compressed moments in busy lives.
We first met when I returned from Colorado, and moved back to Stellenbosch in 2000. She was selling children’s educational books at the library, and we were instantly kindred spirits, upon first conversation.
She invited me to her home to chat about books, and offered us all her lemon meringue tart (still the best, to this day, and most years, on my birthday in March, she whips one up for me, or gives me some home-made rusks)..
Now that’s friendship!… but, I digress.
I made my way to the estate’s restaurant, which I hadn’t known was recently (re)launched as the Hamm & Uys Eatery, just in time for the final moments of the game; I don’t think I’ve ever been in midst of such “gees”. Beloved land.
As the final whistle blew, and the dye was cast (represented in the colours of our flag), for the eyes of the entire world to share, I felt like I was levitating with the surge of sheer love, pride and happiness coursing through so many.
Can you imagine, how much positive energy was released in those seconds, how far and wide it stretched, across nations and oceans.
So many, near and far, were happy for us, championed us, and delighted in this victory… of that I am fully persuaded.
Singing and dancing started around me, and the hospitality staff suddenly emerged in powerful harmony of song and movement – and I was riveted by the beauty, the grace, the unadulterated joy (go to online version of Bolander for recording).
Children raced to the home-made ice cream stall (no doubt capitalising on their parents’ willingness to fund a second cone).
People – friends and strangers alike – hugged and danced and beamed from ear to ear, in a cloud of shared joy and tears of pride in our nation, and the team that represented hopes and dreams and aspirations, and came through for us all, with flying colours.
How powerful, this energy, I thought. It is a real thing, an entity, never to be lost or destroyed (as energy cannot be), but only containing the capacity to be changed from one shape to another (if I can rely on my rather shaky memory of what my schoolteachers patiently explained to my wandering mind as I looked longingly out of the window at the glistening blue bay, beckoning me, at Point High in Mossel Bay).
So, if I’m to take this at face value, it means that the power of that moment, the force of the love and goodwill and unadulterated thankfulness, lingers on, and has the capacity to be transformed into action, from intention, and define how we approach our indivudual and collectvie futures, as citizens of this incomparable land, and what we offer of ourselves, to that end.
I refuse, therefore, to allow myself to be in the grips of anxiety or fear or trepidation – and shun the narrative of bleakness and foreboding so prevalent – and embrace and build on what I experienced on Saturday, and let that define the words I choose to utter, the thoughts I elect to have, the actions and responses I am in control over – and claim truths at the core of this day.
We are one: uBuntu is our legacy, our potential. We are infinitely powerful conduits, and our narrative makes a difference to outcomes. And love is a stream in a parched desert.
With many gratitudes,
Carolyn Frost: Editor