Devonshire Avenue

The avenue of our childhood had simply disappeared: the yellowing veld of memory lost in the big houses and manicured lawns. The sky had fallen to the earth. The distance of the faraway veld cultivated into something quite different. Re-drawn.
I simply had to tell you.

 

I am searching for the outline of the road in my memory. The street was an avenue. To call it that was a bit of show off really – rather stuck up for a dirt, rutted road, cut out in the veld. Dust raised by wheels caked the winter sun.

The name oozed an English place: Devonshire Avenue. (Nothing indigenous here.)
Look at me. No handle bars. Bike ride freedom. Sun-dried childhood, drenched in endless play: we roamed in packs, up and down the avenue to the outer limits of our galaxy. Boundaries, yet we were boundless. I remember the puddles and potholes, the empty spaces: the eye could see into the blue-wide-forevers. The veld not yet entirely tamed.

On a recent visit, I had the surprise of an intimacy lost. This street had grown up as an avenue, tree-lined, neatly curbed (and the ubiquitous barbed wire, electric fences). I couldn’t see the house, lost in the forest my father had – in part – planted a lifetime ago. Only the shape of the building and driveway glanced back on a past where ghost Ford Zephyrs and Morris Oxfords were the kings of the road. They shimmered in the dream-haze of the Jo’burg Autumn.

The avenue of our childhood had simply disappeared: the yellowing veld of memory lost in the big houses and manicured lawns. The sky had fallen to the earth. The distance of the faraway veld cultivated into something quite different. Re-drawn.
I simply had to tell you.

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