Profile photo of Jeanius


Of Floods and Clay Trampolines

January 10, 2010 in South Africa, uncategorized

When I was about 8 or 9yrs old and living in Bot River, I had one of those experiences that one never forgets.

It was winter. It had been raining hard for days. The veld had turned into vlei in some areas. Little streams appeared and the river bed was full of flowing water.

I can still see where my brother and I were in the veld that that day. We had run down the slope that leads into the river bed, crossed the river, ran a little way up the path and then veered right.

This put us to the right but ahead of our home which was just above the slope which we ran down and perhaps 15 meters away from the river.

This was a subsidiary of the Bot River and we knew it well…we were not even afraid of it when it was in full rush…it was simply part of our vast playground… and we played in it ankle deep during some parts of the year and calf, or knee or thigh deep at others. Occasionally someone slipped and fell into the river and the most that we were concerned about was that our clothes should be dry before we got home.

It was safer than the snakes that we shared the bush with.

We were simply exploring the veld that day because after the rains things changed; new pools, new frogs, new plants…a new environment and we were keen to see how things changed.

A train was rumbling on the line on the mountain side, It was coming closer. It was a kind of funny time for a train…

… it was kind of a strange route the train was taking too. The rumbling was almost on top of us; to our right; in the river bed!

I remember that we looked at each other and then at the river bed, slightly ahead and to our right we looked, and then quickly at each other again as we stood rooted and watched.

The few trees and the shrubs that grew there were glistening, sparkling like jewels; as if they were covered with fine diamonds, dew drops in the early morning sun.

Ahead a bank of sparkling light was moving towards us as if gliding through the trees and shrubbery…like a train through a tunnel keeping to its tracks a mass of water made its way to us and we knew, we just knew that it would spill out of its containment and wash over us just as it  got to where we were.  It could not spill to the right because there the bank was high. All the way till there there was no high bank to hamper the flow of the water, only where we were. There was no escape and so we watched the end of the world approach us; a beautiful, shiny. glittery mass

Jeanius Pics

…and just as it got to us it fell in upon itself as if a plug had opened at its center and instead of a wave of water cascading over us there was a gentle swirl at our feet which rose to our calves and dropped around our ankles…


I often wonder about the factors that saved us that day. Some water would have drained into a little dam higher up but the rolling water  was already well past the dam when it collapsed upon itself.

Encountering the edge of the bank might have redirected some of the water and the force may have opened up a hole which sucked the water down into it.

I am partial to this theory because the next day part of a path just slightly further than where we were was like a trampoline…. the clay gave when I stepped on it and bounced when I gave a little jump and when I lay down and put my ear to the ground I could hear water flowing so I left, just a little afraid.

The next day I went back again but now the clay was hard and unyielding. The water had washed soil into the space and filled it up. No more clay trampoline; a good thing perhaps or I might well have buried myself alive in the depth of that underground cavern.

Jeanius Pics

Why pictures of trees?

When I see the moonlight reflected on eucolyptus leaves or the sunlight glitter and shine through the trees a memory stirs. It does not always rise all the way but it it is always there and I wish that I could see again a mass of water thundering like sparkling lights…

18 responses to Of Floods and Clay Trampolines

  1. Bless TL:) I remember it so well, even the physical and emotional memories are still strong!!

  2. I was adding the other tree picture while you were commenting:)

  3. Oh hi; just saw that you posted, was coming to have a look…on my way now!!

  4. great story jeanie

  5. Wow, jeanoius…a miracle!!

  6. Riveting tale! Simply amazing how you came to no harm. I have seen a little stream in Johannesburg come down in flood with an entire willow tree being tossed and tumbled in the leading wave!

  7. Bless:) I have been wanting to write this for a long time, even referred to it once or twice I think

  8. Hi there angel: always so glad to see you:))

  9. Hi PPD:) Said to Older Brother recently “Do you remember about the river incident…?” and he grudgingly admitted that he did…has this tendency to ‘not remember’ he does:)

  10. Even then we understood that it was amazing!! Ha ha: but recently oneday I had cold shivers when I realized how I could have fallen through the clay that I was jumping on so energetically:)

  11. Why Ark;) you mean you did not read my tale of being encapsulated in a wave on Hawston beach?

    There seems to be this thing with me and water…

  12. Kids do do the darndest things, but there is definitely someone “up there” looking after them.

  13. Hi:) …and yes; yes:))

  14. Ha ha:) Madmom; but I enjoyed your comment and HE is getting a beating, he also asked about your comment, Apparently he does not get comment mail and so only you will now have a copy of your and my comments:)

    Glad you liked this post…been meaning to post it for months!!

    There was another incident to this. It was actually the 3rd day that the clay hardened again. On the second day when I went there I decided that I should not play there alone so I fetched my cousin Dianne and we trampolined for all we were worth but she is bigger than I am and when she jumped little cracks began to show in the clay so we stopped and laid down and listened to the water rushing below, On the third day when I went back the ground was solid and the water sounds gone:)

  15. Quiet an adventure…

  16. Ha ha Naratu: Kind of got into these things quite a bit!!

  17. Scary! Really nice being young and carefree.

  18. Hi there:) yes, it makes a wondeful memory:))

Add Comment Register

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>