Nostalgia, defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past, becomes more pronounced and is one huge advantage of growing older. The elderly have an endless supply of memories stored away in their brain closets, which they unpack from time to time to laugh at, cry over and polish to a new shine before they are lovingly put away until next time. I know, I’m also one of those – the elderly.
My mother, who lived until the ripe old age of 96, used to tell us tales from her childhood and she taught us a few of the games that children used to play in the days before television and computers. One of those games was dung spitting (“bokdrolspoeg” in Afrikaans), which has grown into a competitive sport in this country. Players are required to spit the small, hard dung pellets produced by antelope, as far as they can. The farthest distance reached by the projected pellet, determines the winner. No, this is not as gross as it sounds; remember that antelope graze in the fields and the pellets consist of plant matter. Once it is dry and hard, there is no foul smell or taste.
The photos above were taken in 2014 in the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in South Africa’s Gauteng province. My mother, then 95, loved the short walks and the picnics in the reserve. On a quiet afternoon like today, I can still hear her giggling and see the sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes while watching her children and grandchildren practicing the fine art of dung spitting in the picnic area.
Nostalgic? Sentimental? Yes, but also one of my most treasured memories.