Janet Smoot was married to a pilot of a well-known airline, who had to travel to cities in many countries. So, often he was not at home and when Janet had no other obligations she sat at night alone in the living room and often her thoughts wandered away to pleasant memories of the days that she was a child.
Then she knew already the boy who would become her husband, together with other children of farmers and fishermen in the region where she lived.
It was excellent for children to play outside there especially during the summer months. They could live out their fantasies, play all kind of games, in those days when there was no television and they were not much interested in the radio either. There was so much to enjoy in nature all around them. In fact, at their age, they saw more in it than there was, and it was all exciting, spellbinding, new.
Their parents often looked at them with a smile and enjoyed their stories about their youthful adventures, in the wood, at the beach, in the bushes, and there was a lagoon surrounded by lush plants, flowers, berries, sometimes a rabbit, a hare or a squirrel, a wild goat or a lost lamb. A lonely mill stood like a sentry, surveying their playground. They had formed a club of seven; four boys and three girls. Nevil, the boy she liked best, was the leader.
They built a secret hiding place with observation post against “enemies.” Janet remembered yet a clear blue sky reflected on the glassy water of the lagoon, where they had their “pirate-boat,” a raft made of old boards and tree trunks, picked up at the beach. They moved the raft with punting poles. They had to be careful not to stand all together on one side, because the raft could capsize.
Sometimes they made voyages of discovery “in the jungle.” But the most fun they had with “digging for a treasure.” It was hidden somewhere under the blackberry bushes, said Nevil. Sometimes there was a “promising” trace and the boys were soon absorbed in their game, digging busily, while the girls were guarding with wooden rifles, protecting them against competitors.
When it rained they all sat in the hay above the cow shed of Janet’s Father and they chatted about possibilities where the “treasure” could be, and what exactly it would look like. And what would they do with it? There were so many possibilities. Nevil often came up with some quite new ideas; he had been reading a lot. He kept them in suspense. Sometimes they were there when it became dark outside and they had a stable lantern hanging on a nail above them. That was a bit creepy. Till Father called that it was time to go home.
It was a wonderful time. Of course, they never found that treasure, but that did not matter. It was only a game. Janet was always reminded of it when she was reading in her Bible that Christ said, that where your treasure is, there will be your heart. Over the years she had often found treasures in the Scriptures, to encourage her and to give her strength for any situation, every day of her life; they enriched her very existence in fact. When pilot Nevil was home, they enjoyed them together. ❖
J.P. de Klerk is an author and journalist from the Protestant Reformed Church of New Zealand.