There is a stop sign that I have been watching for almost 50 years now. It is situated within the Tsitsikamma National Park and is surrounded by the many square kilometres of Knysna-Amatole montane forests.
The stop street is at the end of St George’s Avenue in Nature’s Valley. The place is always flooded, has vicious baboons and grumpy old people, so don’t ever visit there. One of the inhabitants takes pride in not pleasing all the inhabitants all the time. Over the years the stop sign has slowly slid down the pole. It was replaced in the early 90s, but continued slipping down further ever since. Maybe it’s an omen?
I haven’t stopped there in 45 years, or any of the other overgrown stop signs in the village. When my sons were young and snotty-nosed I used to drive through the stop puddle at high speed. This was great fun and was repeated a couple of times to the boy chorus of, “Do it again dad!” Now that I am old, I prefer to stand and look into the reflection and remember things. Mirror images are rather fascinating as they are horizontal reversals of the scene.
Once, one of my best-ever friends Philip Black came to visit. He was a professor of economics at Rhodes University and also a drummer in a band called One Yellow Beatle. Later that day, under the influence of the juice of fermented grapes, we drove around Nature’s Valley, him following me. He insisted that he preferred to drive behind me in his own car, as I was under the influence.
Anyway, this time I diligently stopped at each stop street. Then, I patiently put out my left flicker and turned right. So it went for a long while. Right flicker out, turn left. Left flicker out, turn right. After half an hour we were in such a state of hysterics that driving became impossible.
A while back Philip died, and for a long while, something also stopped inside me. So, my friend, I don’t know how long the COUNTRY LIFE takes to get up to heaven, but if you are ever paging through one up there, and find this little page, then just remember, this one’s for you. Let’s do it again.
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