Country life is filled with unexpected little pleasures, especially if you’re willing to try new things and meet new people. Our young son was recently invited, along with his classmates, to celebrate the birthday of one of his friends, whose parents happen to be wine farmers in the area. As luck would have it, our son’s parents happen to be frequent consumers of the said wine estate’s bounty.
As a newcomer to the country, I have tried as much as is humanly possible (while working a full time job) to attend every single party and school event. It literally is the only way you get to have good conversations and get to know the people who share your village with you. Nevertheless, every event is fraught with anxiety about meeting new people while shadowing existing conversations like a voyeur. It does get better with practice.
Here we were on a strangely warm yet clear autumn evening, watching the sun go down over the valley with a lake in front of us while our kids ran up and down like maniacs. Parents chatted away and some parents (read ‘we’) got to know more about the others. It pleased me immensely that it was an evening party as it presented an opportunity for my husband to meet some locals. Every child had some form of flotation device on due to the proximity of the lake – a raggle taggle posse of plastic augmented Fiddler crabs scattering up and down the shore.
To everyone’s delight, happy birthday was sung to a floating bonfire reflecting sputtering flames across the lake whilst threatening to topple over with every warbled movement across the surface. It was indeed magical…mesmerising flames, deep-purpled mountains, crisp autumn air, kidlets cooking their own ‘stok brood’ (dough cooked on a stick) on the fire with great enthusiasm and…wine, of course (for the parents that is).
Besides the beautiful setting and quality experience, another important event occurred. My son finally learnt the painful lesson of fire when he touched a bubbling toasted marshmallow and experienced, first hand (pun intended), the gift that keeps on giving. Maybe once, just once, we can get through a fire without us all arguing about who ‘owns’ the flame. We can only live in hope.