I was raised by the sea. As a teen I spent hours at the beach, lying in the sand, seeping up the sun, trying to surf and checking out the talent. Surrounded by friends of a similar mindset, coastal beach culture flowed – through our choice of cloths, wheels, activities, music, entertainment and love of the environment……a gentle, relaxed lifestyle, different to that of acquaintances raised on the buzz of big city life. I eventually married a waterman. The sea is a part of who I am. So why then does the forest move me to my core?
Perhaps it is because our coast line runs thick with indigenous bush and coastal forest. Lush foliage running down the sand-dunes and along coastal river banks, entwined by the revered Milkwood, (sideroxylon inermend) a protected hard wood tree which provides support to those trees surrounding it, feeds birds, monkeys and other small beasties, shares its secrets with traditional herbalists and works as an important firebreak. Perhaps this is where the love-affair began….
Travel north from our seaside village towards the Amatole Mountains and in a couple of hours you reach the tiny mountain village of Hogsback. The quintessential opposite of Chintsa. A perfect match.
You will find no ocean here but rather, magical waterfalls among the deep and protected indigenous Eastern Cape forest, snow in the winter and fairies if you sit very still.
The protected Yellow-Wood grows tall and true, home to rare Cape Parrots still spotted along the paths said to have inspired Tolken to write The Hobbit.
Regular school trips from an early age and return visits with babies in tow have made this beautiful place an ongoing part of our lives and one of the precious spaces we go to when we need to renew our energy, seek inspiration, or simply huddle.
I love the sea for all that it is, but it is the forest that sings to my soul, and where my ashes will eventually fall.
Hogsback, Amatole Mountains -Eastern Cape – June 2012