Yesterday I read a really touching post called “Nostalgia” by Freespirit. I was drawn to it because of the title. I am quite sentimental (two huge containers in the garage filled with stuff I WILL still scrapbook is testimony to that!) so I thought it would be something along those lines. It was more than that, though. It was a reminder of how quickly time goes by and that often “we do not value those simple things in life that are more precious than gold“. It’s so true.
So inevitably it sent me down my own nostalgic road. And the first thing I thought of was my parents and home – where I grew up.
I was raised in a very small little town in South Africa, called Calvinia. The town itself is part of the great Karoo, and if you were to ‘google’ the word Karoo it would tell you that it is a semi-desert area. Strange, I never perceived it to be ‘desert’. To me desert means sand, and although it is very dry and hot in summer, there is still shrubbery. We call it “karoo-bossies” (‘bossies’ means bushes). To the naked eye it would probably look dead, but their unmistakable smell (fragrant, almost herby) will let you know that they are very much alive and that its hard outer shell is just protection against the harsh sun.
The little town is surrounded by two mountain ranges. I remember walking home from school and some days the hot “bergwinds” (mountain winds) would come rushing down the mountain, through my hair. At times it almost took my breath away. I would walk with my arms outstretched, trying to catch the wind, untying my hair so that the wind would send flying it in all directions. I loved the feeling – carefee, invincible, alive. In those moments I always thought that I could be anything, achieve anything.
And I loved the mountains. My bedroom window had the most amazing view of the striking blue mountains that surrounds the town. When sun went down the mountains would bask in an orange glow. I never grew tired of it. I spent many evenings sitting on my windowsill looking at it and drinking it all in. Maybe this is where I get my peaceful nature from!
The town is really small, no more than a couple of thousand people living there. This means hardly any light pollution and the result of that is an amazing night sky. Words can’t do it justice, but the best way to describe it would be to image a black tablecloth scattered with diamonds, and packed as tightly against each other as if you poured salt between them. At night, as kids, we would lie on the grass for ages just staring up at the sky, looking at each twinkling little light. Trying to see shooting stars or see who could first spot a satellite! When my cousins from the city came to visit they were always in awe and could not believe that we were looking up at the same sky as what they did back home.
For all the hot and dry the summers, the winters were freezing cold. Sometimes we would even have some snow (called “kapok”) on the higher mountains, but never in town. And if it was a proper rainy winter we were rewarded in spring with the most beautiful phenomenon…
Come early August, the fields around the town turned green. And it was not just the karoo-bossies. It is almost something that cannot be described; just witnessed. The wildflowers of spring. How this dry and arid land could turn into a kaleidoscope of colours and smells… As far as the eyes can see; orange and white daisies, purple “vygies” (a type of succulent), gazanias, little white flowers looking like a carpet of snowflakes… For a few weeks during August and September the town became a hive of activity as people from far and wide would come to see the spectacle. It is really a magnificent performance by Mother Nature.
I loved growing up there. I would not trade it for anything. I even met hubby there. He is not from there, but he came through town for his work back then and we were both in the right place at the right time. The rest is history!
I left Calvinia the year after I finished school. I’ve been back many times. My parents still live there, but they prefer to come visit us in the city now. Thanks, Freespirit, for transporting me back to those joyful moments. And for reminding me to go back more often, while I still can.