Waking up on a Saturday morning after a week of school was always a joy.
Our neighbourhood was on a hill. The nicer houses stood closer to the ridge with magnificent views that stretched for miles. The hill below these houses had rocky outcrops — koppies — along the length of the ridge. The drop from the top to the bottom is steep, falling more than 100 meters over a short distance. Dotted in the foothills of the koppies and into the valley below lay another small quiet neighbourhood.
At the top of the hill, a few blocks from my house stood a high concrete water tower. Although the property had security fences, the neighbourhood kids had made a hole. Being at the water tower always left me with an eerie feeling. Maybe it was the strange sounds coming from inside the tower or that we were trespassing, but we still went.
One of the best reasons for trespassing on private property is to steal fruit from a tree. In our middle-class suburb, every house had fruit trees. Our garden produced figs, avocados, grapes, granadillas, plums, peaches, apricots and loads of seasonal vegetables. On the property next to the water tower stood a large mulberry tree. The tree’s branches hung over the security fence, bulging with the ripe dark-purple fruit.
Feasting on forbidden fruit. Our hands and faces stained with guilt. Such innocence.
Before leaving, we’d pick a bunch of the mulberry leaves and stuff them into our pockets. The silkworms in the shoebox at home can devour a handful a day. The awe of watching the silkworms go from hungry caterpillar to silent cocoon to silk moth never fades.
Many times, my best friend and I went to the local butcher early on a Saturday morning to buy boerewors. We packed backpacks with cold drinks and headed for the koppies. We’d go down the steep pathway, climbing over boulders, crawling under branches jutting out, making our way down. We found a secluded spot and set up our site. We gathered rocks to create a small fire pit. We started a small fire with dead branches and dry grass. There we braaied our boerewors on a stick — in the open flames. As the fat dripped into the flames, the fire flared up, scorching the meat.
Feasting on half-cooked-half-burned boerewors. Our hands and faces glistening with evidence. Such innocence.
It seems unfair that the privilege of such innocence isn’t available to every child growing up. There’s safety and security and friendship and family and caring and love. We all deserve at least that.
Create a place for children to feast on the joy of being a child, their faces beaming, innocent as they are.
Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄
As always, thanks for reading 🙏