Don’t run, slow down – he said pulling her hand back.
I can’t – the sand is too hot, it’s burning my feet – she moaned while hopping up and down, flicking the stinging sunburnt grains further up her legs.
Her constant clambering and tugging at his arm and hand in an attempt to lift herself off the ground was making his progress along the thick sand more difficult so he stooped down, put down his load and let her sit on his knee while he whispered a secret into her ear.
This little “dadeloog” so loves secrets. And walking barefoot.
Slow down, he instructed gently. Take your time. Every time you put your foot down start digging into the sand with your toes. Right under the hot, hot there is cool, cool. I promise you. When you find that place slowly shift yourself onto that foot and then do the same with the other foot. Dig your toes in, find the cool, stay a while, move over. And then the other foot. And then the other. And before you know it you’ll be perfect at it and we’ll be home.
She, in her childlike way still tried to get him to carry her, but he was already burdened with some of the basics they went to town for. If only he had taken the other truck – now he’s had to leave the feed behind, in the broken down truck. The baboons are going to have a feast. And, he should’ve insisted she take her sandals.
I can’t – she continued to resist.
How do you know you can’t – he asked. Have you tried it? Do you know you can’t? At least do it and if you really don’t get it right I’ll help you – he encouraged her with a smile on his face – hoping.
And so, as if knowing that he was going to prove her wrong, again, she unwillingly took that step.
If little else remains of the very tall old man whose face has faded in her memory like the time-bleached sepia shots of a family long gone, her grandfather’s words to slow down, dig in and to do the thing before convincing herself that she can’t, ring loud and clear. Just like the excited echo of the raucous baboon chatter in the rocky mountains running north and south alongside the farm.
Still today she finds herself digging in and slowly taking one step at a time when the going gets tough and things get hot!
One of my “Lewis” stories – the farm in the Kalahari. With love, Hester