We’ve left the luxury of Franschhoek with its mixture European charm and African hosiptality and we’re heading north. Our adventure will now take us through the idyllic Greek village like Langebaan and northward in search of flowers. Its that time of year when a miracle happens on the west coast of South Africa, the valleys and mountainsides miraculously transform into seas of flowers…or that is what we’ve been told. “Ja,” says Braam my father-in-law and resident expert on this area, “it all depends on the rains. If they come too late, or to early,” he adds, “then there won’t be flowers.” Hmmm…it sounds like a bit of hit and miss, and even as we head north in search of the mythical flower-strewn valleys we are unsure.
Our first glimmer of hope is ignited as we descend the winding pass into the small village of Clan William. On the side of the road a bright array of several hundred wildflowers clustered together cause us to pull off the road and set the cameras whirring. “Ooh’s” and “Aah’s” emanate as take photos. Passing through Clan William, after loading up on some supplies at the shop we continue onto a dirt track, opening multiple farm gates on the road before we finally hit a sign that reads...
“Enjo Nature Farm - Have time to dream, to think, to enjoy peace and quietness and the wonders of life - the sky, the mountains, the fresh air.”
“Wow, that sounds amazing,” says Nicky, while Hannah replies, “Not really. There’s no signal!” She’s right on the signal front. We’re off the grid. In fact this next part of our journey is going to be marked by one significant feature - limited or no data connection. Something that is sure to test the girls, and me too!
Minutes later we arrive at a scene from a storybook. A beautiful whitewashed farmhouse stands next to a trickling river while around it a symphony of yellow and white flowers complete the fantasy. It’s amazing. Outside the farmhouse a horseshoe bench looks over a fire pit to the river below.
As darkness draws its velvet veil across the valley and a chill settles upon quickly upon the land we retreat indoors and soon are all huddled around a crackling log fire in the kitchen while the smells of dinner being prepared compete with the mesmerising effect of the flickering flames and the laughter and conversation. However there is another laughter awaiting us, who’s voice is now still but tomorrow we shall witness it’s intoxicating voice.
It must be the smell of porridge coming from the farm kitchen that wakes me, and soon I’m holding a steaming bowl of porridge luxuriating in the golden paint of the sun as it wakens the valley with its welcome touch. I look at the flowers that cluster in patches all around our farmhouse. “Hey, these fellas are all closed,” I say staring disconcertedly down at their bowed heads. “They’re still snoozing.” A few appear to be peaking out at the sun from behind half open petals as if checking whether its time to wake up or not. However most are still firmly asleep.
I come to appreciate that about flowers. Flowers, unlike game viewing - which I also love with a passion - have some distinct advantages. Firstly they don’t wake up in the bitter hours of the early morning. These sensible little beasts, unlike their furry counterparts, only open up when the sun is well up. And so those insomniac fuelled early risers who wake with the chickens are left staring at nothing, besides the bowed heads of the flowers. Go back to bed! Secondly flowers gather in huge batches and remain still, making viewing them easy. Thirdly flowers let you touch them, sniff them and even lie on them, unlike their beast brothers. And so we will have to wait for the sun to rise higher before these little fellas reveal their hidden secrets.
“Let’s go for a walk to the dam,” Nicky suggests. And so with tummies content, we set out to stroll along the farm road towards the dam. It’s then that we see it…or hear it…or experience it. It’s the earth’s laughter. There is not really any other way to describe it. The valley is a carpet of iridescent orange, checkered with white and purple…or is that what we’re seeing. It’s almost as though a divine hand has taken a rainbow, crushed it and sprinkled it on the valley. Colours without labels. A scene without description. I can truly say, as the sign at the farmhouse proclaimed, “I’ve seen the earth’s laughter.”
We find the farm dam and our swim in it's icy water looks like a reverse cam video as we enter and remerge in such haste it appears as though we’ve been plucked out by a bunjee cord. Soon we are sunning ourselves like content lizards on the peer enjoying the tranquility of this fantastical valley.
“Who’s up for some food?” some intelligent individual asks, as though the question ever needs to be asked. With chorus of hearty “ayes” we decide to find the ultimate picnic spot. Faithful Pajey has driven in many amazing places during our adventures - from open freewatys, to busy cities, to snowy roads, to rugged tracks, however Pajey’s wheels have never before driven down a living , rainbow of colour. It looks like someone paved a road of flowers into the hills drawing us towards the treasure that lies at this rainbow’s end.
Words should now end. These limited symbols of human design. They cannot describe this scene, nor begin to capture the experience. Might I describe it as fantacular or mesmermazing? Yet even these words fall short. We’re seated in a sea, in a carpet, in a rainbow, in a living tapestry of color. I’m sipping my beer…of course, a good brew completes this scene…and eating our lunch. This must be the ultimate picnic site. A blue canopy above, a rainbow beneath, the gentle buzzing of bees, and the gentle stir of the breeze. It’s real…the laughter, I can feel it bubbling through my soul. It’s real the laughter, I can smell it in the aroma-rich air. It’s real the laughter…I can see it on the faces around me. I’ve heard the earth laugh, and I will never be the same.