The day had started just like any other sunny day in our little Zulu village where I grew up. On many mornings we would skip out to the enormous field adjacent to our house. Hopping and skipping like little, very active bunnies, we would seek carefully for the tell-tale little white bumps among the blades of grass that were delicious button mushrooms.
I always used a little basket, so that the precious harvest would not be crushed.
Once back home, a frying pan would be claimed by the first arrival there, then these wonderful delicacies, courtesy of Mother Nature were fried in butter, placed reverently onto slices of toast and eaten with enormous enjoyment. The smell of those breakfasts remain in my memory bank, preserved for life.
Gateway to adventure
On each side of the gates were two large, thatched rondavels. They were the change rooms, one for males, and one for females. And then, in all its glory, the blue-painted swimming pool waited. No Olympic-sized beauty, this was very crude by today's standards. But, we loved it! I could only go in the shallow end and envied those who could swim.
I was all alone in the crispness of early, clear-skied morning. There was no such thing as a lifeguard. Sometimes I still wonder about the sanity of my parents . . .
It was as if they had absolutely no concept about danger in the lives of their offspring. We were completely untramelled in daily adventures. And adventures we did have, from crawling over the slimy lip of a dam with a sixty foot drop, to challenging huge iguanas in their caves. My parents simply had no idea. Perhaps the most astounding thing is that we actually all survived our childhood
A mighty accomplishment!
I jumped up and down, noticing how the water held me up. I jumped my way deeper. The deeper the water, the longer I stayed up. Now I used my arms to push even more against the water, jumping at the same time. It took a little while before I realised quite suddenly that I was actually floating. A moment of sheer panic, then exhilaration, as my feet touched the bottom, then as I pushed off again, and stayed floating. Over and over, I repeated the movements, finally swimming right across the pool. I was ecstatic!
I was in a dream as I changed out of my swimsuit, and ran home up the field. The elation of achievement, and the daze of sheer happiness overcame me as I burst through the door to share my amazing accomplishment.
The family was at the table, waiting for lunch to be served as I made my huge announcement. There was a brief, almost absent-minded pause as my excited words fell into the air. My five siblings started to reach for their food. My mother looked at me. "Did you wash your hands, dear?" she asked.
Mmmm! Mushroom breakfast!
Start with a knob of butter...
Add mushrooms and some sea salt
Cook until brownish
Toast the sourdough bread
Pile on toast, and use some basil if you have it!
On retaining memories
The swimming pool still exists in the village. It hasn't changed too much over the years. The field has. It has become a playground with a high fence. I'm sure the mushrooms have long gone.
I want to retain these memories for the rest of life -- for good or bad. And that’s why I want to remind you to drink your cocoa! (see cocoa - can it be a miracle?)
Hoping your week will be productive and kind!