|Track in the Wemmershoek Mountains Conservation Area, Western Cape.|
One of the exciting discoveries of venturing off the beaten track is suddenly and unexpectedly coming across a long-abandoned, crumbling homestead aka a ruin! My husband and I have always had an affinity with ruins...
I don't know exactly what it is about these silent, tumbledown vestiges of the past that spark our interest, but we find them irresistible...please click the read more button below to continue
...and have gladly risked both life and limb in our eagerness to clamber through rusted, barbed-wire fences, knee high grass and thorny bushes...
...harbouring any number of possible threats (think snakes, spiders, scorpions all of which we've encountered) to get close...really, really close.
I guess part of their allure lies in the fact that they stand as monuments of something NO MORE!
|Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders' spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to the environment, married to the ground. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright ~|
No matter how forlorn or dilapidated they might be, they still seem to carry an echo of a time when they were home to someone, to a family, inhabitants who loved, dreamed, laughed, cried, sighed.
Coming close to where all these feelings took place, one can almost imagine what it was like THEN...
...as we listen to the breezes that sigh through the cracks and breaks of the time-ravaged, derelict remnants in which we find ourselves standing, transfixed, wondering...
We inevitably find ourselves standing, silently, mesmerised by the decay, the old, musky smell, the 'feeling' emanating from the building itself.
Often, we can get a sense of whether this was a 'happy' place or a place of hardship, tribulation, sadness.
Sometimes, it can 'feel' eerie, other times,
light and airy.
Slowly, we begin to explore,
often splitting up, as each of us is drawn to something that catches our attention.
After a while, one of us will inevitably call out to the other, often excitedly, to share the object of our 'discovery'.
By now, my husband has invariably been clicking away with his camera...
Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.
~ Gustave Flaubert ~
...and I'm usually starting to look for some small treasure/token to take back home with me, some small reminder of our 'discovery', some small memento of a life and time no longer in existence, something that carries the 'essence' of the long-gone inhabitants of this forgotten place.
Sometimes, it's a rock; other times, it might be a piece of wood or a shard of pottery.
It could be a mud brick or an old airvent, or rusted implement found half buried among the rubble.
I only take one object and never anything that might still be attached to the structure.
I try to find something that 'speaks' to me and, no, I'm not clairvoyant and neither am I a mystic!
Many of the ruins we come across in South Africa were built of mud and daub or sun-baked, mud or clay bricks. The floors were often mud mixed with dung and the roofs were frequently tin or thatch.
These materials fall into disrepair quite rapidly and the remaining ruins meld charmingly into the surrounding landscape from which they were originally sourced.
As with all abandoned buildings, nature begins to reclaim what was hers and bats, owls, pigeons, rats and even snakes move in to build their nests and raise their young.
Trees and creepers often grow up through the ruins, lending an almost comical aspect to the scene.
|The years teach much which the days never knew. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson ~|
All things human hang by a slender thread; and that which seemed to stand strong, suddenly falls and sinks in ruins. ~ Unknown ~
|Old Time, that greatest and longest established spinner of all!.... his factory is a secret place, his work is noiseless, and his hands are mutes.|
~ Charles Dickens ~
|The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,|
Lets in new light through chinks that time hath made.
~ Edmund Waller ~
A land without ruins is a land without memories - a land without memories is a land without history.
~ Abram Joseph Ryan ~
I look at each ruin and take care to remind myself, 'this was HOME to a family' and then I try to absorb a sense of what their life was like and to ponder the myriad reasons that might have led to the abandonment of their home.
It holds a subtle fascination and it is this that keeps up our interest; it is this that prompts us to stop the car and take a closer look. We have never been disappointed. There is always something new to discover, something that reaches out across the barriers of time and space. It is rather a humbling experience...