Sunday, October 15, 2006

Golden Memories in the Making

Yesterday we had one of those golden, sun bleached days on the water, that are the best South African holidays. They are there for us to reach out and pluck, azure and sparkling along with the gold, yet all too often we stay bogged down in home and work.

Friends of ours have a boat and we went to join them on a dam (reservoir) in the mountains an hour and a half away. It turned into a Swallows and Amazons adventure for the children, aside from the fact it was a motorboat, instead of little sailing dinghys and they did have to take us grown-ups along!

We went across the water with the boat and found a remote sandy beach with not a footprint in the sand before ours. There were hills and banks of sand, narrow inlets of water, shallow fresh water to try out the boogy boards. While the adults set up a canopy for shade the older children (all swimmers) were able to explore safely out of sight, no currents to worry about, no strangers anywhere.

It was the kind of day that, as sanctimonious students in eighties England, boycotting Barclays for ignoring sanctions against apartheid South Africa, from the depth of our ignorance we imagined those priviledged whites indulging in all the time, in between ordering about their oppressed servants and lying beside a pool drinking iced cocktails. Our two dimensional image took no account of the many middle-class South Africans, struggling to make ends meet, no different from the rest of the world, protesting against apartheid in the few ways they could from the inside and treating their employees well.

For them, as well as for us now, jewel-bright days like these are treasured interludes in every day life, stored up in children’s memories, to be brought out later as adults nostalgic for the idyllic summer days of their youth. These are the riches we want to bring up our children with: rich experiences of freedom to explore, imagine, try themselves out physically with sun, water and sand. I hope with this they will grow up to self confidence and self knowledge, without the unfounded arrogance that can be the legacy of unbridled monetary riches.

Meanwhile we appreciate the bounty of nature here in South Africa, for providing us with a plethora of playgrounds with water, sand and mountains and the generosity of our friends for sharing the opportunity to explore it with us. Today back home on our farm, sun-kissed and sandy still, we are also blessed to have space for the children to run around, water and sand to play with and family to share with, so though we are still working on the monetary riches, we feel very lucky to have such a treasure chest of jewelled moments at our disposal.

1 comment:

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