Die Foefieslide

The contraption that we called a “Foefieslide” was created by slinging a length of steel, multi strand cable between two trees.  The trees had to be at different elevations so that the cable ran from a high point to a low point and the steeper the angle of decline the better.  A pulley wheel with a handle was slid onto the cable prior to securing the cable ends to their respective trees.  A length of rope was tied to the pulley so that it could be reeled up to the high point where the brave (or stupid?) could grab hold of the handle with both hands and then launch themselves to slide down the length of the cable.  Generally the height of the cable above the ground was sufficient to dissuade the one sliding down from letting go.  The choice was simple.  You could let go and break some bones in the fall or you could hold on until the end of the ride.  No one let go!

On the day in question we had a newly made slide that was not only high but ran over water and it needed a test run.  Quite stupidly I had volunteered.

 Die Foefieslide

 Staal tou tussen twee bloekombome
Lekker styf gespan
Oor die water lê sy weg
Met slegs ʼn katrol om aan vas te hang
 
Stewig vas aan beide kant
Een hoog daarbo die ander laag
Finaal getoets, ja als is reg
“Toe nou manne wie gaan dit waag?”
 
“Ek’s nie bang” sê ons jong held
En begin die boom te klim
Sjoe! Maar dis hoog as ek moet val
Bly daar van my bra min
 
Dis nou te laat ek kannie terug
Al breek ek hier my nek
My bek’s te groot dit weet ek goed
Daar’s nou geen kop uittrek
 
Vat dan goed vas en skop my weg
Op pad met volle vaart
Dis maklik vir dié daar op die wal
Hulle gee my goeie raad
 
My oë is toe, my hande klam
Meteens tref voete grond
Ek’s veilig nou en sê “Dis niks”
Maar my hart sit in my mond
 
Nou gaan die ander een vir een
Ek lag vir hulle vrees
Dit kan ek doen, ek is mos baas
Ek het die foefieslide oorheers
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Die Kettie

I grew up in an area close to several small dams and a number of blue gum (Eucalyptus) tree plantations. The trees served as nesting places for a variety of bird species chief of which was the turtle dove. At weekends and during school holidays I would spend many happy hours in the plantations “hunting” turtle doves with my trusty homemade catapult which consisted of a forked stick with a length of elastic (cut from an inner tube) attached at one end to each of the two forks and a patch of leather joining the two lengths of elastic at the other.  Had I relied on my hunting ability to feed myself I would have frequently gone hungry but at the time I imagined I was a master hunter. The commonly used Afrikaans word for a catapult is “kettie” and this poem is accordingly titled “DIE KETTIE”.

Die Kettie

Met n rekker van n trekker binneband
En ʼn mikstok van n bloekomboom in hand
Was ek die bobaas kleinwild jagter
Geseen met bomenslik spoorsnykragte
Om troppe voels van eenderse vere
Plus hope ander ongedierte menere
Te laat les opsê met onfeilbare skoot
En ʼn spoelklip as boodskapper van die dood