Levitating under stress

I think I’ll write about levitating.

I have levitated twice in my long life, both times under extreme stress. I have tried to levitate in normal conditions but it doesn’t work! I do have a witness for both times that I did rise up and forward.

The first time I levitated was many years ago in Africa. It was just before Christmas. We were looking for a particular prickly fern that grows wild in the bush. We used it as a Christmas decoration. The long tendrils draped nicely over pictures, doorways and window pelmets.

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climbing asparagus fern – a weed in Australia

A few of the farm dogs were with us as we walked down the gravel track leading from the main road into the farm. Among the dogs was my mother’s fox terrier, Kleintjie. Roughly translated, Kleintjie is ‘little one’. In fact, all my mother’s foxies were called Kleintjie. As one departed this life another Kleintjie took her place.

Walking back to the Big House, Kath – who had recently learned to walk – ran a little way ahead perhaps thirty metres. I noticed movement next to her on the gravel. Dear God, my heart leapt into my mouth. The movement was a banded cobra rising up to strike directly into my daughter’s face. So, I levitated from where I was standing to Kath. As I landed, Kleintjie ran between the striking cobra and Kath drawing its attention away from her. Even as I write this I can feel the hairs on my neck prickle. Death was so close. Kleintjie evaded the snake, which then slithered off the track and into the bush.

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photo by Peter Wright

The second time I levitated was in Cape Town. I think it was in 1977. We were living in a flat in Camp’s Bay on the side of the mountain. Because of the angle of the ground, the block of flats was perched atop tall pillars and we were on the top (third) floor. We were more or less level with the ground at the back but had the most astonishing views over Camp’s Bay and the ocean from the front windows.

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Twelve Apostles. Camps Bay. Photo by FromJoanne on Flickr

Anyway, early one morning I was standing in the kitchen looking up at The Twelve Apostles through the kitchen window. I heard an extraordinary sound, like a massive pantechnicon that seemed to come from the street behind us. I couldn’t see one and wondered to myself what was a pantechnicon doing up on the mountain at this hour? Then I realised that the stove was moving and rattling. Objects were falling off the shelves. The floor was shaking too. Shit, an earthquake! So, without further ado, I levitated from the kitchen to the bedroom and into the bed. I pulled the blankets over my head although, under the circumstances, that may not have been the wisest thing to do.

If you don’t believe me, ask Roland!

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Levitating under stress

Back to civilisation and being responsible parents again

Now that we were back on the mainland we stayed a couple of days in the fishing town of Vilanculos. One memory that has stuck were the delicious, juicy crab claws that were supplied as ‘bar food’. So, we’d sit at the bar in the evening and eat our way through bowl after bowl. I don’t even like crab but these were different. Fresh mussels were also available.

Somewhere, I think in Inhambane, we watched the African women collecting mussels off the rocks. When the tide was out, the women would walk out in stately single file. Picking their way across the rocks, with heavy metal buckets balanced on their heads, as a wave came in the women would throw their skirts up so as not to get them wet. As they did not wear underclothes, this was cause for much merriment for Wendy and me. I rather think Roland and Cliff either didn’t notice or were too embarrassed to laugh. Anyway, we bought a bucket of these mussels and I can remember how mouth-wateringly yummy they were.

Another treat in Mozambique were the cashew nuts. You could buy a great big square tin for next to nothing. I remember we were going to take a couple of tins back home but ended up eating the whole lot.

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So, from Vilanculos we headed toward Lourenco Marques, now called Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. Slowly but surely we were moving back toward civilisation.

Not long after we arrived in LM, I noticed that a wound on Kath’s heel was looking very red, swollen and lots of pus. Soon a red vein appeared running up her leg. I panicked. I knew this was a sign of blood poisoning. With no knowledge of the Portuguese language, we weren’t confident we could manage the hospital and doctor in LM. Roland and I decided to leave and head for my sister’s place in Rhodesia, near the Limpopo River. We bid a tearful farewell to Cliff and Wendy and off we went.

We went through the border between Mozambique and South Africa at Komatipoort. I remember very little of the trip, just wishing the Land Rover could go faster. We crossed from South Africa into Rhodesia at Beit Bridge – border crossings were not a problem in those days. Soon, we were on the ranch where my sister, Win, lived. Win and I decided to take Kath back over the border to the mining town of Messina (now Musina) to see the mine doctor.

In the event, Kath was given an anaesthetic – chloroform – administered in the old fashioned way, on a cloth. The nurse was the anaesthetist and assistant. Once she was anaethetised, the doctor started probing into her foot. It seemed to take hours and hours. He eventually found a small grain of coral deep in the flesh and plucked it out with tweezers. Coral poisoning is dreadful. Win and I stayed in the room all the time. Before Kath had even come round from the anaesthetic, we were on our way back to the ranch. We had to make the border at Beit Bridge before it closed. We scraped through but only because the officers knew Win.

I don’t know if I ever told my sister how grateful Roland and I were for her help that day. She is truly the hero of the story.

On the way back to the ranch, driving through the bush, we saw an aardvark.

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Back to civilisation and being responsible parents again