Thursday, January 1, 2009

Heritage - Consider the Lilies of the field

- William Penfold -

An important constituent of our collective heritage is the ‘nothingness’; the lovely open spaces between the buildings that allow us all to truly breathe and take in the beauty of our surroundings. In this town, we have no need for high walls, for solid, demarcating fences of ‘sparre’ and the like, all of which help to place us in boxes effectively revealing our previous association with the tired old suburbia of city life and which excludes us from the joys of open space.

A stroll down Deurdrif Straat, commencing at Kerk Straat will reveal to you the absolute wonder of small town living. The combination of nature left to its own devices and new buildings integrated with old is an absolute joy to behold. The far distance shows the old road seen as a perfect continuation of the existing, curving away to the left and disappearing into the hazy hills. A close look shows clever planting around an Edwardian house with the old barn left as it has been for yonks. Next, a new house where the owners have cleverly screened their pool for privacy by strategic planting of suitable shrubs. On the left, a divine old double storied, flat roofed barn housing an old workshop with a lovely sense of ‘organised chaos’.

Beyond this, an ancient leidam with lilies and reeds followed by sheep grazing contentedly in a long undisturbed field. Opposite, lies a cottage of charm, surrounded on three sides by farming activity of one type or another. The now famous Karoo Kombuis quietly goes about its business in a largely untouched old cottage of beautiful proportion. Crossing deBeer Street, an enormous round leidam lies sedately behind a pretty farm wall reminding us all of the amazing gift of plentiful water this town has been able to enjoy and thrive on.

Now, the real treasures begin. A beautiful gabled cottage, which, by the grace of God (and no insistent property developers), enjoys a view over four or so town farms right into the entrance of our famous and beautiful Swartberg Pass. The farms stretch way down the road and allow the stroller to breathe, sigh, and wonder at the beauty of it all.
There is more to come! We wander past Chris Akkerboom’s old house. Now unoccupied except for the fields which are alive with red and yellow Bishops, sharing their vlei with other birds and animals. An old pink flowering rose intertwines itself with the thorny acacia in a strange marriage of beauty and protective aggression. The entire property border is of shrubs, grasses and flowers forming a natural and adequate screening and home to countless small creatures.

At this point, you look over your right shoulder and espy parts of a rural village of exceptional charm presided over by a handsome kerk with solid bell tower and sombre chime. The road finally peters out after little cottages of quaint rural setting, at an old causeway where weavers have made their homes over the ponds of the Dorps River.

This describes but one of the beautiful roadways, paths and walks that we are blessed with in this town of ours. This is our heritage. Would that it can remain this way for us and future generations to cherish.

Footnote: It is common, although it need not be so, for articles of a heritage nature to be contentious. It most certainly generates comment and discussion and that is a good thing for those who otherwise are unable to express their feelings. At no stage is any comment in these articles designed to be of a personal nature and if this impression is gained by any reader, I apologise for any implied affront. I am overwhelmed by the positive response from all sectors of our community to these articles and I know of only one dissenting voice. Whilst those who encourage far outweigh those who don’t, I shall endeavour to continue with the articles as long as subject matter allows. I confirm that all comment is my own for which I stand fully responsible.

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