(photos courtesy of the author: David Gwynne-Evans)
Do you believe that people find crystals, or that crystals find people? Here follows my own fairytale story – a botanist who in following his heart found his love and a magical crystal in the Tanqua.
It was the first burn in a sweltering Tanquan November of 2007. Unpretentious campsites and languid residents both lay scattered beyond the binnekring in a marked departure from the clutter and mayhem that is the hallmark of our modern times. As I chatted to my friend Boyd who studied horticulture with me, my gaze fell upon upon a bowl filled with a delightful assortment of crystals.
Truffling through it, I professed to Boyd and his partner Davina a wonderment for such crystals, but mentioned that I wouldn’t be taking one as without a tether I’d surely lose it. The words had barely escaped my lips when my fingers encountered a thick yet supple cord. As I gently eased it out from amidst the crystals my eyes alighted upon a most beautiful purple quartz crystal, set in putty and complemented by a roughly angular crimson ruby. I asked Boyd with wonder whether I could take it, but he said it was meant for someone else. After a pause for reflection, he changed his mind and said that the crystal had found me and that he insists that I have it.
I wore that necklace for nearly seven years straight as my sole adornment till one day I lost it while skinny dipping in the sea. On many prior occasions it had slipped off from around my neck normally unbeknownst to me, and each time I found it or it was returned to me. On its third attempt at freedom it was picked up by a fellow hiker naive as to its owner during the Greyton-McGregor trail and kindly returned to me. I felt slightly bad for my consequent actions, but resolved to curtail its bid for freedom and thereafter I fastened the clasp securely with a cable tie.
Stopping in town late one evening I was accosted by a woman who claimed I was wearing her necklace. I vehemently denied it and related the story of Boyd, my finding the crystal at the burn, and its origins in the Brandberg. She said that she was with him on that trip, that she had set the stone and that she now makes and sells necklaces like this for a living. It turned out that this was her very first necklace that she had made and inquired if it still had the original putty clasp. Reaching up to my neck and turning it around her face was a picture of delight as she gazed upon her original creation and the crude button clasp. In its journey the crystal had found its maker amongst a population of millions.
One day, Fran, the love of my life whom I first met in equally magical circumstances on the distant hills of the Tanqua while botanising, came to me with a grave look on her face. “David, a friend of mine found this necklace washed up by the sea” and with that she proffered it to me. “Fran”, I responded, “If it fell off and came to you, it is meant to be yours, keep it”. With that, tears welled in her eyes and she related a most remarkable tale: She dreamed that night that we went swimming in the sea and that I drowned. She then found my naked body washed up supine upon the shore.
Bending down and with a sorrowful heart, Fran kissed me one final kiss before reverently plucked the necklace from my neck and placing it around her own neck. It somehow felt fitting and right to her at the time, and now the necklace had in this life and through dream found its present owner.
The Burn for me has been marked by a myriad of friendships, coincidences and magical occurrences. Nowhere is magic more strong in my life than at the Burn. Five years ago, and unbeknownst to me as to her identity at the time, I met her for a second time behind a mask while she was doing a moop swoop on the playa. Several months later I chanced upon her during the first Desert Knights cycle tour in the Richtersveld. Two years ago I married Fran at the foot of the deeply soulful Metamorphosis amidst a flurry of fantastical alignments and coincidences.
I am eternally and internally grateful for the land thickly encrusted with memories and the transient folk that bring a flush of colour and vibrancy to the Tanqua every year. That evening, my relationship with Fran, and every burn I have attended have etched profound journeys into my life and soul – welding and transmuting me into whom I am today. Long may The Burn continue to touch you, as it has me – in it’s own special and enchanting way.