Monday, 7 November 2011

A night in the Veldt

It's a glorious April evening. The worst of the cruel summer heat is over. Anna has been begging us to sleep in the veldt ever since Jack mentioned the possibility two months previously. It was a suggestion he'd made without thinking. As a result we've been coming up with an endless array of excuses. Too hot, too windy, too rainy,  too many mozzies, not tonight , Mama must make cheese in the morning.
"But Papa promised to teach me about the stars," she persists. We've exhausted all the excuses. We're tired of the whining. Let's get this over with.
Don't misunderstand me. There is nothing I enjoy more than an evening in the veldt; watching the crimson sunset, a frosty beer, and then as the evening turns cool, lighting a fire and braaing some wors as a snack. I love lying back dreamily and watching the stars. These are all things that can be done before heading home... to bed.
We throw some bedding on the back of the bakkie, pack a cooler box, the book on stars and a kettle for morning coffee. We drive up to "the beacon" which is the highest point on Langbaken. Jack clears a space amongst the rocks and bossies  and unceremoniously throws the bedding in a heap.
As I take in the view, (which is miles and miles of nothing) I'm reminded of how blessed we are. There is something very liberating about space. There's no other human dwelling in sight, no roads or lights twinkling on the horizon to suggest inhabitants. I feel as if I own the world.
Anna is in her element, an endless flow of chat, "Here's the coffee, did you bring my-milo? This is your pillow Mama. Let's put the chairs here, no Papa, here..." She's in charge. Always planning our lives for us. Her enthusiasm is contagious.  I'm choked with emotion. I'm glad she nagged us, so glad we're here. She'll keep us young.
The night air is cooler than expected. We've discussed every star in sight. There are billions. The three of us snuggle closely. Only Anna sleeps well.

In the morning Jack and I wake with the sun. As always I have my coffee in bed.  This time however, I'm huddled in a sleeping bag, watching the sunrise. Wow! The soft morning light soothes away the rough edges of the Karoo veldt. It looks truly beautiful, although not as beautiful as my sleeping child. She's curled up against me, her pouty lips slightly parted. Her dark lashes flutter and I brace myself for the inevitable.  " Mama. Where's my-milo?" My day has begun. Madam Brattex

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