A short while ago my son Matthew and I had taken a road trip and were visiting my daughter Paige in Grahamstown. The three of us decided to go on a short hike one morning. There was great excitement as we planned our walk. A picnic was packed and possible trails and routes discussed. The fact that we had chosen what seemed like the windiest day in Winter in the Eastern Cape did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm.
The route we settled on was close to town and I parked my vehicle at the top of the hill near the start. The wind was so strong that as I opened my door it was snatched and flung from my hand with a surprising force! Never the less, we gathered ourselves together and undeterred by the gale set off. I think we were all questioning our sanity at that point, but no one said anything and anyhow we were already on our way.
This was a different wind, one that we are not accustomed to in Northern Natal. It was icy cold and relentless. I kept a watchful eye on Matthew, for I feared that a slightly built eleven year old could easily be blown off the side of the mountain in a gale such as this! Conversation was impossible against the constant roar and we each kept our thoughts to ourselves and trudged on.
We settled into it. The momentum and rhythm of walking is a wonderful thing, such a simple act, one foot in front of the other. Soon we were warmed up by the exertion of it and even the dreaded wind became tolerable. The hills around Grahamstown are a pure delight to an avid, all be it amateur, naturalist. The fynbos is so different to the Northern Natal grasslands. My jaw dropped at the variety of bushes and plants, many of them flowering. The highlight botanically were the many bushes of Protea cynaroides or ‘King Protea’ bushes as they are referred to, dotting the hillsides, a few were even flowering.
Our destination point was ‘Pride rock’. A name like that is self explanatory and we kept our eyes open for any rock that might fit such a grandiose title. ‘Pride rock’ however turned out to be a little less proud than we envisioned. Never the less photographs were taken and we all took turns to pose on the said ‘Pride rock’. If you cut off the foreground and aimed the camera at the top half of the rock, one could create an illusion of an impressive overhanging ‘proud’ rock. In any case we had arrived, the view was pretty and the walk had been invigorating albeit ‘fresh’!
By now we were starving and looked around for a sheltered spot to enjoy our picnic. Pride rock may not have had the visual iconic effect we had expected, but it certainly made up for this by being an excellent picnic spot. The three of us huddled close together underneath the overhang with our backs leaning against the natural rocky wall behind us. We dug into our picnic ravenously!
And what a picnic it was! Paige had earlier that morning lovingly put together a simple picnic meal, but one to be remembered. As we tucked into our cheese and tomato panini’s laced generously with caramelized onions – these made from scratch in her student kitchen, I was glad that I had not been assigned to provide the food. I am ashamed to confess that I would probably have chucked some Nik naks and Winegums into the bag with a few oranges tossed in as an after thought.
Every bite was delicious. Huddled together like that to keep warm and savoring the delicious food while the wind whipped icily around us turned out to be the highlight of the whole excursion. I memory made to treasure.