I wrote this a while ago when one day a vivid memory from my childhood in South Africa popped into my mind. I loved and still love South Africa and always felt a great sense of loss when we moved away, I was eight at the time. Any memories I have of that time feel very special to me and magical.

Like an ancient Chinese warrior clad in brilliant green armour, it rested, still and patient in the little girl’s gently cupped hand. Squatting amongst  the flowers and with that familiar squelchy feeling of moisture between thigh and knee the girl gazed appreciatively at the creature, absorbed by its intricate beauty, not wish it any harm but wanting to befriend and love it. Both still like statues whilst high above the sun beat down warming her freckled shoulders and glistening on the creature’s leaf like exterior. The distant sound of ground being toiled did not distract or induce fear into either. They were missing in their moment.

Years later the grown girl would squirm and recoil at the thought of seeking out and holding a praying mantis, disbelief in her own choice of pass times aged seven. But that world she had then lived in was a more wonderful and magical place, one that now seemed to exist only in myths and legends.  A land that smelt of the warm earth on which it rested and where colourful people lived extraordinary lives. Her memories bore affection and the colour red, red like the knitted jumper in the photograph her pen pal owned, her aged seven with her hair in pigtails and a gappy smile.  Daddy had made lots of fun of here that Christmas repeatedly singing that annoying song “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”.  It was their last Christmas there.

Red like the sunset across the open sky, red like the flowers in that beautiful garden which had once been hers, red like the blood on a scuffed knee. Red and warm like the soil beneath her daily bare, naked feet in a land so far far away. The same earth beneath her bare naked feet as she sat there, in that flower bed, on that day.

Beyond the flowerbed, the garden sloped away, the grass prickly and dry, thirsty in places. At night the tick tick ticking of the sprinklers would try to resuscitate the crops of brown whilst lullaby the little girl to sleep, but for now they patched the grass like Dalmatian spots, frazzled and crisp. The inclining lawn came to a close at a drawn stone line, crazy paving; the paving met by blue tiled mosaic, the mosaic dropped down into open azure, the swimming pool. The jewel in the crown of their oasis.

That day as the diamonds danced across the pool, a soft warm breeze breathed a loving embrace amongst those there and there was happiness in that garden, in that day at that moment just happiness.

I’ve linked this up with Magic Moments over at The Oliver’s Madhouse

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  1. Jaime Oliver March 18, 2013 / 3:17 pm

    Sarah that’s absolutely amazing and so beautifully written i am really honored that you have joined the #magicmoments linky! thank you x

  2. Considerer March 18, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    That’s beautiful. I hope you get to go back one day, and I hope it doesn’t disappoint you when you do.

    • thepuffindiaries March 18, 2013 / 4:41 pm

      I’ve been back once but would love to go again. It didn’t disappoint then. x

  3. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) March 18, 2013 / 4:17 pm

    That was wonderful. Such rich, vivid memories of your childhood. Loved all the imagery with ‘red’ – there was something very solid about it – very real.

    • thepuffindiaries March 18, 2013 / 4:41 pm

      Thank you, I really enjoyed writing it, I was right there in that flower bed.

  4. motherofmadcatsandbabies March 18, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    That’s beautiful! My husband is from South Africa, and it is beautiful, there as you described so well in your post!

    • thepuffindiaries March 18, 2013 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you, I still miss it and am sure it’s the reason I struggle with the cold so much.

  5. Emma March 18, 2013 / 7:42 pm

    Ahh sounds wonderful, could do with some of that warm sun x

  6. fabfortymum March 18, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    This is beautifully written Sarah, so descriptive, so real and really is a magic moment. It’s like reading a book and I want to know the rest. I love the picture too

  7. sarahmo3w March 19, 2013 / 1:21 pm

    Beautiful memories and a really beautiful peace of writing :)

  8. bavariansojourn March 22, 2013 / 12:47 pm

    I got married in South Africa, we were hoping to go back for our ten year anniversary this year, but it wasn’t to be. It is a gorgeous country though, with lovely lovely people, and I know we will go back one day. Sarah, when you get a minute, do you think you could sit down and think about writing a book? I really really think you could…

    • thepuffindiaries March 22, 2013 / 12:54 pm

      What I’d give for the warmth on my shoulders right now of the South African sun. Thank you for considering me capable of a book, I’ve not dismissed the idea but I’m not sure I have a story except my own. not interesting that is. x

  9. Jaime Oliver May 3, 2013 / 7:14 pm

    I love this post Sarah, I have popped across again from #oldiesbutgoodies x

  10. Suzanne May 4, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    We went to SA for a holiday about 13 years ago. We loved it and definitely will be back. What a contrast to your children’s lives now hey?! Thanks for linking this lovely memory to #oldiesbutgoodies this month :)

    • thepuffindiaries May 4, 2013 / 10:32 pm

      Yes a lot less sunshine for my kids, thanks for hosting. x

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