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Sunday, June 06, 2010


Sounds often have the same effect on me that scents do. I am instantly transported to some place and time buried deep in my memory.

This morning when I awoke just as the sun came up, I heard a turtle-dove outside the window cooing away merrily. I was miraculously conveyed to my grandparents' plot where we often visited when I was a child. The memory was so intense that it was painful.

When we stayed there, my cousin moved in with his parents while my parents and I had his room. It had been my mother's room when she grew up. It was a wildly eccentric house - when space was needed, another room was simply added. This bedroom opened out of one end of a pantry. I still smell the magical aroma of things such as warm biscuits and freshly picked peaches and apricots that filled it. There was an ancient Electrolux fridge as well. I think that is why I find fridge sounds very comforting even now.

I was often awake early in the morning just as it became light. Across the room I could see my parents sleeping peacefully. There were curtains with a green and blue floral design and the early sunlight filtered through, bathing the room in dreamy turquoise. I would think of all the marvelous thing my cousin and I would do on that day. It is hard to describe how I felt then. There was excitement, impatience, joy, wonder. I remember that as one of the happiest moments of my life.

In the kitchen, one of the workers would be starting the fire in the coal stove using mealie stalks for fire lighters. The smoke drifted across the yard. It was the scent of early morning, of getting up, dressing, breakfast.

Outside, always, hordes of turtle-doves cooed. My father would sometimes take the air-gun and shoot one or two of them for the cats. They hunted with him and pounced on the birds as they fell, tearing flesh and devouring the warm, fresh meat.

The plot was a brilliant place for children. There was an astonishing assortment of sheds and outbuildings containing the most interesting things and we would investigate to our hearts' content. There were magnificent trees to climb, a huge orchard and a vegetable garden to explore. The formal front garden had a black wattle tree on which we frequently found wire-worms hidden in the rough bark. The porch there was completely covered by creeping plants and had a fantastic musty smell. Two plum tries on either side of the porch yielded soft, juicy red plums.

We would construct miniature roads in the soft, sandy soil and drive around on them with our toy cars. For houses, we used bricks on which we drew windows and doors with charcoal. There was the swimming pool, often empty, in which we sometimes discovered tadpoles. Once or twice, the windmill's dam overflowed and we made little boats from leaves which we excitedly followed as they were washed down the stream.

I squinted in bed this morning and tried to make our room look the way I remember that far away bedroom bathed in beautiful sea-green light so long ago. I did not manage to get it quite right.

I have searched for a photograph to put on the blog, but it seems that I don't even have one. It almost feels as if the plot and everything I remember about it exists only in my mind.

Written by I


Dale said...

but the way you describe it makes it alive in our minds. Dd