Sometimes I feel that my soul or atman / purusha in Sanskrit needs to be wrapped-up and a big plaster applied. As a city girl, the pressures of work, traffic, administration and the daily grind leave me feeling less than a whole person.
It is times like this, that husband and I escape to our favourite place right here almost on our doorstep: we go to the Cederberg. This gem of an area is about a 3 hour drive from central Cape Town. The route includes breathtaking passes through varied terrain that clearly reflects the seasons.
We have been there in every season and stayed in many of the different cottages. We have even been there on the motorbike in deep winter. Some cottages have been grand, but most are simple stone cottages with big fireplaces and views of geologically wonderous mountains, rivers, old river beds, olive groves and cool blue skies. It is a place where there is no TV and no cellphone reception; a place where “Time” does not mean deadlines and the hands on the clock.
Rather it spells-out the purpose of the escape: “This Is ME“.
Your neighbours are baboons, moths, insects, frogs and delicate birds with fluttering wings. You need never see another human apart from your better half. There are walks to a waterfall and ancient rock art. Any walk, with eyes on the ground, will lead you to fossils in the broken pieces of rock. I have found fossils of little creatures with wings and delicate spines.
As you walk, you pass shrubs with succulent long green fingers and deep green thorn trees. Amongst the grassy bushes, field mice scamper about collecting nesting twigs. The little birds with zebra-striped faces also collect natural materials for their nests.
This is a place of equilibrium and peace. All non-human animals have a role and a purpose; humans are guests in their world and I am reminded how fortunate we are to still have places on earth where we can see a world which is not tarnished by politics, consumerism and greed.
The cottage we stayed in last weekend was called Kliphuis or Stone House. It is not connected to the grid and power is provided by solar panels or gas. When the sun sets and all you have is the fire roaring, it is deeply dark outside.
Looking-up at the night sky, the Milky Way is like a basket handle or even a rainbow of stars in silver, white, blue or red. The longer you stare at the sky, the more you see the detail. Shooting stars abound and dark shadows in the sky are visible.
To breathe the fresh air, wash your hair in the Cederberg water or just stare at the beauty all around you, is nourishment for the soul. We plan to spend a week in the same cottage in winter. This is a time of rain and snow; when you read books by candlelight and cook potatoes in the fire. How I wish I could be back at our little cottage before then but the reality is: we are city folk with good jobs and need to stay as whole as possible in our daily lives and make sure the soul is nourished just long enough before we return.