Days gone by when safety wasn’t an issue, I remember a little stream that beckoned a group of friends in Garneton. How many times did we saunter - some on bikes - some walking, along the dirt track under the power lines with the warm sun tingling on our shoulders?
I don’t remember being fashion-conscious only comfortable cotton in the hot sun. I don’t remember being boy-conscious (that came later). I just remember loving the escape from home, the walk through the bush, the baking sun and cool, crystal clear water as it hit hot skin.
We laughed a lot; we talked endlessly and carried our innocence and open hearts on our sleeves. God – I miss those days!
How many competitions did we have? Shoes off, stripped down to cossies, we’d race over the hot beige sand and stones burning our feet, to the other side of the bridge.
The bravest would dive into the swiftly running current, going deep, eyes open, avoiding the banks to stay under as long as possible. The current would propel us under the bridge until the air threatened to burst our lungs, spewing water when your head broke the surface.
We’d look around to see who had won. Who had stayed under the water the longest and let the current take them the furthest away from the bridge?
We always sat on the Garneton side, a natural pool which opened up to allow swimming and splashing in comfort. The Marlow’s farm was on the other side of the bridge and further upstream we could hear the cows every now and then.
Later, I remember a story that a crocodile had taken one of the cows from the bank. That croc lived in our Mwambeshi - the stream we swam in every day we could! I don’t remember swimming there much after that.
Frances Macaulay Forde © 2000