Circles in a Forest

A couple of weeks ago, Immy and I joined my parents in Knysna to rest, relax and catch up on some family time. It was a welcome break from criminally early morning school wake-up times (mama - it's still the middle of the night!) , and strict 7pm bedtimes. Relaxed, unrushed, the biggest question each morning: what should we do today that's fun?

We explored. Forests, beaches, reserves, restaurants, bird parks, train rides. We found new places, and revisited old favourites. If there's a beach, she's thrilled. Rocks - even better. Any place where she can climb, run, jump, splash, dig, walk or run is her happy place.

We took a scenic drive to the Dalene Matthee Big Tree. And ended up following the Circles in a Forest hiking trail on a whim. We greeted and smiled sheepishly every time a person passed us, all equipped with hiking boots and backpack and bottled water and walking stick and hat and protein bars (or whatever) and flint (ok  - maybe not flint. But you get the picture.) Me and my mom in pumps. Immy in her sparkly glittery gold high tops. My dad with his scarf and pullover and hat. Urban meets jungle. In our defense - we didn't KNOW we were going to end up hiking through the forest. Eventually the mud got the better of us, and the better of Immy's sparkly shoes, which led to Immy losing her own sparkle quite quickly after that. We called it a day and trudged the 1km uphill to get back to where we started.

But next time I am determined that we will come well prepared. People will be astonished at our well-equipped-ness. Those boots! Sturdy sticks!  Bags of trail mix!  I've already promised Immy we'd walk the whole trail. I have about six months to mentally prepare for it, at least.

New watering holes...

The Bell Tavern in Belvidere

Totties Farm Kitchen along the Rheenendal Ramble.

A trip to The Book Exchange followed by lunch at Harry B's.

... and a miniature train ride. The Knysna Society of Model Engineers is really a cute excuse for grownups to play with trains. I'm not sure who enjoys it more - the kids or the men.

A broody old church one overcast afternoon. Immy explored, and I followed with my camera. I felt like I was in a Jane Austen novel. All purple heather and smudged clouds and autumn leaves. My reward for not being a killjoy mom and calling her back - this picture. I would never have gotten this shot if she hadn't led me - literally - up the garden path.

Our usual haunts. Lunch at The Lookout Deck, lemonade at the market and the beach at Leisure Isle.

Beach daisies and splashes of colour in unexpected places.

A rare moment of quiet, sweet contemplation.

And this. My mom and my dad and my girl.

I am writing this with a heart full of thankfulness tonight. Parenting paradoxes - fierce independence balanced against a warm body curled into mine at night, legs draped over me and fingers linked through mine. Moments of quiet contemplation, and loud shrieky games of tickle tickle. Sheer willfulness, and a small hand on the side of my face, eyes looking into mine - I love you, mama.

It isn't always easy, and I worry sometimes about the mistakes I make. But then I know there's always I'm sorry, and let's try to do better next time, and tomorrow is a new day.

Hand in glittery-nail-polished hand - learning, growing, changing, adapting.

Oh. I forgot to mention trumpets. We made and ate them for breakfast every second day on holiday.

I call them trumpets, mama, because I can't say CRUMPETS.

Happy weekend!