Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do you know where we are?

“Do you know where we are?” In front of us stood four teenagers with bulky backpacks. The girl who asked the question had a much creased and well used map of Silvermine in her hands. I don’t think it was hers.
It turned out they were Scouts, let loose for the weekend in Silvermine on a mission to find their own way to the Amphitheatre. They hadn’t done badly. They were in fact close to the Amphitheatre, even if they were heading in the wrong direction. And judging by those backpacks they were, as Scouts should be, well prepared. There were two boys and two girls in the pack and just in case you didn’t know, the days of Girl and Boy Scouts are over. It’s just Scouts now.
I was so happy to see these four Scouts challenging my preconception that most teenagers spent their weekends in half-dark rooms killing everything in sight on their playstations, that I said: “We’ve just decided we’re also going to the Amphitheatre.”
We had our own little scouts-in-training behind us. Eager little walkers, each one of them. Erin-Joy and twins Gabrielle and Chiara. There is something wonderful about showing a little girl a fresh pink flower and telling her it’s an oxalis purpurea, only to hear it repeated when she spots one a little further on: “Oxalis purpurea!”

Of course, if you have children (I don’t) you would know that refreshments are key to keeping children interested in spending a morning on the mountain. So we found a protected overhang above the Amphitheatre and spread out along the rocks like a happy extended Khoi-San family, munching and chattering.

Our Scout troop marched on and we watched them cross the valley with a touch of pride.
By now Silvermine was spotted with sunshine, clouds racing shadows across the mountain.
“Mommy, I want to spend the whole day on the mountain,” a little voice piped up. Have you ever heard more beautiful words from an eight-year old.

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