Found on the Mountain


September 9, 2017 by petrujviljoen

mountainous rock (I mean lock) 1

Mountainous terrain in

the old, eroded, rusted

lock transformed almost

to rock.

Found on the mountain.

mountainous rock (I mean lock) 4

What happened was this: I was out … no, wait; it started some two weeks prior. Charlie and I, Charlie being my cat who were renamed thus from Peter Deer because we [my landlady (at the time) and I], discovered she was a girl when we took her to the vet to be ‘fixed’. She’s a ginger and white. Ginger (with a white chest) cats are usually male. It was quite the surprise. Charlie’s brother, whose name I no longer remember, we were sure they were twins, also was ginger with white. I could tell of many occasions explaining Charlie as female. But I won’t. It’s another story for another time. Although Charlie was also found she’s not an object. She’s a Personality. Neither of us is ready for the museum.

So now the story started some ten years ago. Indeed that is how old Charlie is now, her being a kitten when we found her and her mother. Sadly neither the mother nor the landlady is with us any longer.

mountainous rock (I mean lock) 2

Back to two weeks ago: ‘they’ came to do a fire-break. Which broke rank and fled down the mountain in some haste with the aid of an errant wind. One gust it took. I know, I was there, I felt the gust. Except I had no occasion to flee down the mountain. ‘They’, in further and rather urgent haste, burnt another fire-break in front of our houses so the run-away fire-break wouldn’t leap back up the mountain to our houses, which it indeed nearly managed. So now everything got burnt but us and our houses. The baboons and monkeys and most birds, those who weren’t fledglings, escaped too. One is grateful for everything. Oh ja! I saw the spoor of the resident duiker the other day so that’s good too.

The baboons are integral to our story here. So is the run-away fire (break) for that matter.  I wouldn’t have found the lock if it wasn’t for these two important elements to our story. I chase them you see. The baboons that is, not the fire (break). I have potato plants in the back garden …

mountainous rock (I mean lock) 3

Shouting and throwing stones and aping their bark (note the pun please, I put it there specially) standing around looking braver and bigger than where I am sometimes does the trick. It’s an excellent way of getting rid of some pent-up frustration. I can recommend it to anyone. I think it works for heartache too, but like the baboons, the heartache keeps coming back.

So there I was scrounging around for more stones in the ashes of what once was winter-dried growth. The fire (break) laid the land bare with more efficiency than any winter could.

To put an end to this fire, I mean story, the story of the lock that is: the baboons realised I was preoccupied and strolled out from their hiding, their swaggering nonchalant as if on a cat-walk. The alpha male [it always is, isn’t it? (Hi guys!)] was within a few yards from me before I realised. I kept my senses, kept the lock, screamed at it (the baboons, not the lock) in bloody frustration and looked for more stones.

The lock? An easy guess. Someone lost the key and threw away the lock in bloody frustration. This Must Have Happened A Very Long Time Ago. For the lock to be found in this condition. See the heart where the lost key was to go.

mountainous rock (I mean lock) 5

As for the recommendation: find biggish stones, they travel through the air easier. I haven’t hit a baboon yet, for which I’m grateful. Aping their bark is getting a lot better though and heaven knows, I might even be accepted one day. Aping people is too bloody frustrating so I remain  happily unacceptable.


The Museum of Discarded Things has been inspired by and is affiliated to The Claudia McGill Museum – please visit for some serious contemplation in a light-hearted manner of all things discarded and usually unimportant.


25 thoughts on “Found on the Mountain

  1. Just Barry says:

    This story is compelling and textured and rich and terrifying and funny as hell. I’m relieved that the fire spared your things. The lock now exists as a touchstone, unlocking harrowing memories.

    Thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

  2. Charley says:

    So… you really could use a tee shirt that reads “The more I’m with people, the more I appreciate Baboons!” (Or something like that.) A wonderful read. I’ve lost the key, threw the bloody lock away, now it’s a rock oddity….” Hmmm.

  3. Suzanne says:

    What an amazing find and what an insight into your life in South Africa. I really like your last sentence. I have very similar problems.

  4. Thanks for the mention. And…this post is just great and I love the poetry – the tiny mountain found on the big mountain, the terrain the same. Beautiful image and I like the connections you make in so many ways, terrain, mountain, and the old lock.

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