The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

The most beautiful place in the world is scared of nothing. Not of love, nor hate, not of nothing. It is. It is rain and thunder. It is nothing and everything. I wake up at 01:45 to write this but then I run out of steam and realise what I wanted to write is this: Nothing says summer better than the smell of freshly mown lawn and a bright burst of bougainvilla to my right as I write from the most beautiful place on earth.

The place in question is situated on my friends Danie and Maaretjie’s farm ‘Node’ in the Eastern Free State, near the picturesque little town of Clarens. One could easily just stop there and say the whole area is the most beautiful in the world and one would not be far off any given truth.

However, just as Salvador Dali’s ‘Centre of the Universe’ is situated on the ceiling of the train station in Perpignan and does not include the whole of Perpignan, my ‘Most Beautiful Place in the World’ is a specific spot on Danie’s farm.

It is under a giant oak tree with the brilliantly blooming bougainvilla to the left if you want the view with the fields rolling away behind the white waving bulrushes across the emerald green freshly cut lawn to the mountains far off and forlorn.

The buzzing of the bees, everything the eye sees and even the rubble from the building of a new beginning, invite the belief that indeed one is closer to God or the gods (as your fancy might be) than anywhere else on earth. There is a plaque to that effect nailed to the gnarly old oak tree. The tree does not seem cross though. It spreads its arms to shade all below.

From left to right: Kevin, #NotMyGirlfriendJax, Maaretjie and Danie in

the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Whatever your troubles real or perceived might be, go and sit under that old tree and you’ll breathe free, I can guarantee. That old oak has seen better and worse than you and me.

But talking about new beginnings, Danie and Maaretjie are building a factory for their Noah’s Cheese, made in the shadow of Mount Ararat (I kid you not). They’re going big this New Year, proving once again that no matter what your age, you can change tack however leaky your ship may seem to be. And sail forward against the wind.

Maaretjie (real name Marietjie) has been a forex trader, Danie’s fulltime nurse and whatnot in between. Now she is an award winning cheese maker and forgiver of me for all my sins, including, but not limited to, broken glasses, wine and other spillages as well as broken dustbins and more sins.

Danie has been everything from an almost dead military intelligence officer to a banker and corporate clean-cook stove salesman (to replace paraffin stoves and all the ills they bring into township shacks every day) to his current position of Chief Vacuum-Pack Machine Operator of Noah’s Cheese.

He relishes that title as we laugh under the old oak tree where Maaretjie got the idea to make cheese as a hobby because her father gave her a cow and she had too much milk and nothing much else. That is where the most beautiful ideas form: When you can breathe free under a tree.

Here I sit now under a tree, almost broke but much better off than last year this time when I was completely so. I now know what I’ll regret most on my deathbed: Worries about money. I spent the whole of 2017 doing so, yet here I am sitting under a tree, saying: “My next trip will be a very long one so I’ll just enjoy this very short one in the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.”

I give #NotMyGirlfriendJax the eyes and she smiles.

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January 6th


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