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The old tractor chugged along in front of me. It was heading along the windy road between the farms outside Stellenbosch. The wooden slatted trailer was laden with red grapes. They spilled over the edges as it bounced along. The round berries were bursting with juice and the sun picked up their purple hue. They would have a royal reception once they drove up the long driveway to the homestead. The wine maker stood alongside the cellar in anticipation. It was press season and he had his time cut out for him. I noticed all the activity on the farms as I slowly meandered along my favourite route. Farmers drove up and down in their ‘bakkies’ as they checked the harvest for downy mildew. The crop was looking good and it was all systems go! There was much to do and one sensed the flurry and excitement. They had to act swiftly as soon the leaves would change colour and would shrivel and drop. It would then be time for the plants to rest, but first these red jewels had to perform and yield.

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

In the distance the craggy Stellenbosch Mountain stood proud as it framed ‘the dorp.’ I thought of the time that I had run up its steep sides as an enthusiastic child. The descent had been a tricky one and I recall how I had eventually wobbled my way down exhausted and dehydrated. But that experience had not marred my fascination for this giant folded mountain. As a teenager I spent many hours wondering around at its foot. I used to enjoy a walk up there through the forest of pine trees to clear my head. (I remember there being much to contemplate in my teenage years!)

My cold- blooded encounter....

My cold- blooded encounter….

 

There I had discovered a wealth of flora and fauna and even had an encounter with a puff adder. It had been an unusually warm winter’s day and the cold blooded reptile had ventured out of hibernation. It basked on the rock and warmed its ectothermic coils. Fortunately his sleepy state had allowed me to get quite close up so that I could admire his shape and skin. My dogs did not hold the same fascinating and went into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Much barking ensued and the graceful creature slid off the rock and down into a pile of earth. They gallantly wagged their tails as they peered up at me. How could I not be grateful? 
The sight of the bright blue backdrop of sky brought me back to the present. As I made my way back to our family home, floods of memories filled my mind and were savoured.   

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