Story forms Assignment: An afternoon jog [Direct Observation]



Coming home from work it’s time for my seven kilometre afternoon jog. My Asics GT2000 road running shoes look worse for wear. It’s not their fault. They have carried me the past 16 months over 470 kilometres of dirt and tar roads. Or let’s rather say I dragged them across that distance.

Black and brown Labradors Alpha and Omega want to join me, but little do they know that this venture is not about sniffing or running off in every conceivable direction apart from but forward. I leave their disappointed eyes and drooping tails behind me and face my first obstacle. A five hundred metre uphill dirt road. “Find a breathing rhythm. Settle in.“ A majestic umbrella-like fig tree towers to my right, standing guard over the newly ploughed farm land. An electric game fence keeps me company on the left. It used to deter rhinoceros, impala, wildebeest and jackal from passing through, but now it’s useless as the pristine bush veld it encircled until recently was converted to house more profitable Macadamia trees. A plover family of four noisily take to the skies as I near them. They always hang out here and have the idiotic tendency to build their nest in the middle of the road. I smell rotting flesh but can’t see the deceased animal’s carcass.

Our neighbouring farmer has been very productive this spring. Tomatoes, pumpkins and cabbages has magically skyrocketed from the field with a little help no less from irrigation, virgin land and hard labour. The farm labourers’ homesteads to my left are a beehive of activity. Children play football, a woman who has her baby tied with a blanket to her back weed the garden, five men sit around a fire and drink homebrewed beer. Finally I hit the tarmac. This is an open road connecting Curlews with Plaston. A right turn takes me down the hill towards the lowest part of the trail. Tobacco grow lush as far as the eye can see to the west. The road makes a sweeping bend to the left and Primkop dam comes into view. Just over three kilometres long and sporting a 200 metre wide and 10 metre high concrete wall, it supplies much needed irrigation to farmers downstream in the White River. Everywhere plants are bursting into life with spring’s first rains.

A family of yellow finches mock my shuffling feet with shrill laughter from a nearby fence. It’s time to face the steepest section of the route. Unreasonable gradients of up to 11% tax my lungs and legs to the point of surrender. I soldier on. One foot in front of the other I grimly tell myself. The reward at the top is a stunning panoramic view of Plaston and its surrounding farms. How lucky am I to have this view. Smoke billows from a chimney in the far distance. Cars move ant like on the Plaston-White River road four kilometres away. Macadamia plantations are neatly spread in linear rows. To the south rolling mountains chaperone the Crocodile River to the near vertical 3oo metre high Crocodile Gorge.

At last some much needed downhill. The sky is ablaze with dusky pink clouds as the sun makes its final bow for the day. I arrive at my turnaround point. I look with disgust at my stop watch. Maybe the return leg will be faster.

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