OF KEURBOOM PARK
A letter from Lesley Satchel
'I have seen your
request for "memories" on you notice board several
times over the past few years, and may be able to add to other
peoples' memories. Our family has lived in that area for 4
starts with my mother, Grace McDonald (nee Skelton) who
is 93 now. She moved to the Rondebosch area from Retreat
around 1930, and lived at Rondebosch station where the
parking area is now. She attended Oakhurst Primary School,
and later Rustenburg High. Rondebosch was very rural in
those days and I am not sure if Keurboom Park existed
as a park then, it may just have been an undeveloped space.
Her life took a few turns and she left Rondebosch for
a few years, but moved back there when I was a baby in
1947 as she and my father bought a house in Locarno Road.
I remember walking through the park to visit friends towards
Belvedere Road as a very small girl. It became very wet
in winter in the park! The family had only one car then
and we always walked through the park, watching the squirrels,
stopping for a swing or merry-go-round on the way. Also
collecting tadpoles and picking sierings to suck the sour
juice. It was always a lovely recreation area, and the
people of Rondebosch used it to walk dogs and for children
Nannies met each other
while taking the children they cared for to play there. Keurboom
Park was always natural and "wild" in a way, without
mowed lawns, neat paths and beds of plants. The terrain was
always undulating in its own way. Spring flowers just popped
out of the grass, stoney, sandy footpaths meandered through
the area, and the trees grew wherever they were. We collected
pine cones and pine nuts.
My husband grew
up in Newlands, and he and his friends who lived in
the Sunnybrae area used to take their dogs there in
the 1950's and make them race in the canalised river.
It must have been hectic with different breeds of dogs
all barking and their teenage owners calling and whistling!
My parents, the
McDonalds, moved to a bigger house in Gables Way, where
they lived from 1955 until 1970, and after that they
moved back to the Keurboom Park area, as they bought
the very last house in Sunnybrae Rd, right next to the
park and the little bridge over the river. I think that
is where the owls breed now.
My husband and
I left Cape Town in 1967 to farm in Natal and the Garden
Route area, and have lived in Knysna ever since, and
our children used to love coming to their grandparents
and play in the park on the high slides, merry-go-rounds
and swings, the same old metal ones that I had played
on as a child myself. Grandpa's scotty dog Jock always
The grandparents eventually
moved to Belvidere in Knysna, where we have lived since the
1980's, but our family's association with Keurboom Park just
goes on and on. Our daughter Lauren Satchel, and husband Alistair
Noyce, bought a house in Lochiel Road and have been living
there for 6 years. Lauren is a teacher at Rondebosch Prep.
and their daughters, Ashleigh and Rachel (and cousins Robyn
and Tom Cawood) play there regularly on the old outdoor equipment,
taking their dogs for walks along the same paths, collecting
tadpoles in the same sloots and ponds, having picnics under
the same trees (some new indigenous trees planted in the place
of the pines), learning to ride bikes .....and just doing
the same things generation after generation in that special
place. When we spend time with our family in Rondebosch, our
dogs also walk those paths, and we meet friends there unexpectedly.
It is truly a place for all seasons and all times.
Keurboom Park -
Your old fashioned beauty
Your graceful charm
Does secretly uplift
Trees filled with memories
Streams with tadpoles,
In deep reverie
I recall where I
Over the bridge to play
In the field of
Late summer afternoons
with friends together.
Pine cones and squirrels
and dove feathers,
Arum lilies and
frogs and mole hills,
From blue sky to
My innocence in
the green filled.
The years have moved on
And I am still in
awe of this space,
Where I laughed
and cried as I grew up,
I still come to
visit for quiet solace.
The blades of grass can
Which were my favourite
Where I sat down
to think deeply
In the shade when
it was hot.
And what of the Cape winters
When the rain lashed
down so hard,
Misty muddy mornings
Where the north-wester
wind did charge.
So much of me is here
On the slide and on the swings,
The see-saw and
hat and the jungle-gym.
So many feelings make
Inside this heart
The flavours and
Perfect and sublime.
My best lessons however
Were from these
Infused in my spirit
I found the character
I walk along the pathway
Where once I as
a teenager did bicycle,
myself in parallel time
Oh Keurboom Park,
Where would I be
without your grounding,
In a world where
your teachings are laughed at
I am grateful for
that extra something.